Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On Parenting

Photo credit: art.com

My child is a unique individual: thoughtful, perceptive, wildly inquisitive, fiercely independent. And while I believe I played a part in enhancing these traits and allowing them to flourish, I don't believe I am responsible for them. Oh no! He came here that way. Those things are just what make us compatible mother-son partners for his journey. I understand these aspects of his personality, and the truth of who I am allows me to relate to him, and to test him and to help him push beyond his limits. You see, I don't believe that as parents we are meant to try and turn our children into miniature versions of ourselves. Sometimes, it happens that way naturally and exhibits itself in certain aspects of their personalities. But children come into this earth as their own people, with their own personalities in place and their unique journeys already unfolding. We parents are meant to just teach them the rules of living while they are here, so that they can decide to live within them, run outside of them, or break them into tiny little pieces (and certainly I mean those rules applicable to limitations and fear--not the laws we have to abide by that could land them in compromising positions legally). We have to protect them from evil, because their innocent minds make them easy prey for those that mean them harm. We have to expose them to new things and show them what the world has to offer so that as they experience these things, they might recognize something that calls out a truth they see in themselves.

We are bombarded daily with "to-do" lists for parenting: "this is what a good parent should do; a good parent never does that; your children aren't getting enough of this, or doing enough of that". Isn't parenting difficult enough without everyone trying to shape themselves into the same cookie cutter mold? It just feels like an impossible task when there are so many different types of adults and children involved. And the end result is that we end up feeling guilty for not living up to these expectations that are imposed upon us, or to what our neighbor/sister/friend is doing in her family. We end up feeling that if we choose to spank our children, or if we work outside the home, or if we don't make our own baby food in a food processor, or if we can't volunteer at our child's school etc (the list goes on and on) that we are not good/great parents.

So maybe it will be easier if we let ourselves off the hook for being these super human, all important figure heads of dictatorship and authority, and judges of right and wrong...and just enjoy our children. We can show them what love, loyalty, trustworthiness and responsibility look like and let them follow suit. Show them how to make healthy choices to nourish mind, body and soul, and then watch them make healthy choices on their own. Maybe my child doesn't keep his room clean, but he's a straight A student-well that's my compromise. Maybe your child won't eat vegetables with every meal but you can sneak them in once per day and that's your compromise. It's all about deciding what works best for the unique spirits that make up our own family units. I think we could save ourselves a lot of stress if we see ourselves as responsible only for teaching our children lovingly as they develop; guiding them gently to better choices when they inevitably make wrong ones and hugging them until our arms hurt so that they feel safe. Because in the end, they are God's children/children of the earth/children of the universe. Their purpose is already implanted in them--we are simply temporary stewards and seed waterers. The control is in the hands of a higher power and just as we trust it to bring the best for ourselves, we should trust it to do the same for our children.

Well, that's just what I believe...

3 comments:

Vonnie said...

Thank you for this post. I needed to be reminded that it's ok to let myself off the hook when I feel like I'm not being a 'perfect parent'. I shouldn't beat myself up over the few nights that my 1 year old defeats me in the bedtime game because after all, she's just being a 1 year old, right! I'm learning, just as she is learning, and I have to remember that everything might not be 'textbook'.

GG said...

I agree. I will definitely refer back to this when I feel guilty about this or that. Some of the toughest lessons for me have been accepting that sometimes I just have to be "the bad guy" or "mean mommy". Seems like daddy can be hard on them and it's OK, but when I come down on them they act like the world is coming to an end.

Another thing is, they will not be ruined for life if they go to bed late, forget to brush their teeth or eat chicken nuggets for dinner now and then.

And they won't always do things the way I would do them, but they will do and learn things their own way and the best thing I can do is love them and support them through it all!

Chic Mommy, Cool Kid said...

I'm glad this resonated with you ladies as well. Parenting is such a touchy topic and I was hesitant about this post, but I hoped that I was not the only one who needed reassuring and that it would touch the hearts of other mothers too.

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