I suppose that I should begin this blog with a sincere apology to my parents for being such a total shithead from about the age of 8 to 21. I can think of several specific instances in my teenage years that I am sure took years off of their lives; and yet, somehow they didn’t disown me. Likewise, I should also thank my gorgeous daughter for prompting me to write this blog; because amazingly enough at age 7, she already knows how ignite fire in me with the blink of an eye. Thank you, Kendall for allowing me the chance to be more self-reflective. You provide me the opportunity to see how I can become a better mom, by controlling my reactions to your behavior in certain situations; often times something as simple as brushing your hair.
We have all heard it before, and I would tend to agree that being a parent is the hardest job in the world (and yes mom, I realize this is a full circle moment for you :-)). I am not talking about mothering or fathering a child; I am talking about being a parent. Being present. Setting rules and establishing boundaries. Advising our children on manners and life’s lessons. Preparing them for this crazy world that we live in, as best we can. Teaching them the value of family; how to love, hurt and respond to emotion.
Countless times, I have related parenting to walking atop of an endless 6-foot privacy fence; balancing like a young gymnast in her first meet trying desperately to make it to the opposite end without falling. If she falls to one side, she hits the hard floor; on the other she falls into a foam pit, struggling to get out. Her goal is to cross the beam with minimal glitches; but if she loses focus, turns too quickly takes the wrong step, she will inevitably fall to one side or the other. The equivalent to parenting.
If you are the strict disciplinarian, chances are your kids may rebel trying to explore and find their own place in this world. If you are the lenient “let’s be friends” kind of parent, it is very likely that your kids have no boundaries and are out of control. So, the question is – is there truly and even medium? Can you stay on top of the balance beam without falling to one side or the other? I think so, but it takes hard work!
So which are you? The parent with the “hard hand” who runs a house of strict discipline? The parent who lets things slide or thinks, I’ll worry about it later? Or are you the parent who puts in the extra time or takes a step back when you know you are about to lose it? Do you talk to other parents to develop a mental library of strategies that work and disciplines that don’t? Do you ultimately look at yourself and think what can I do better? I do believe that to say you are this type of parent; you must be willing to grow as a person, be introspective and allow your kids to teach you at the same time you are teaching them. I know that many of my friends and people I associate are the “hard-workers.” They are the ones “winning” by staying on top of the beam.
On a personal note, there are two things that seem to work for my husband and me when raising our children and dealing with behaviors. The first is that I am sincerely blessed because Jay and I are a team. We always work together and are on the same page when it comes to discipline. It seems to work in our favor, that when one of us can’t seem to get a handle a situation or is losing patience, the other steps up and vice versa. Secondly, we have a select group of friends who we believe to have similar values/rules/beliefs about raising their children as we do and when the need arises, we collaborate. It is amazingly powerful to talk with a friend and have them validate your frustrations or share emotions; to come together knowing that you are not the only one dealing with an issue. THIS IS WITH ANYTHING IN LIFE – not just parenting. It is so important to always have positive powerful supporters on your team so you can stay on top of the balance beam!