I remember being spanked, backhanded, pushed, yelled at, belittled, called “stupid” and “worthless.” I was told to stop crying or I would be given something to cry about. Nothing I ever did was good enough.
I was not a bad kid. I got good grades. I seldom got in trouble at school. I did home chores, anything I was asked to do. I helped with cleaning and cooking and yard work.
All grown-ups were once children…but only few of them remember it.Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
My parents stole so many wonderful memories from me that I longed to happily share with them – moving out in a healthy way, graduating college and grad school, having my first baby.
I did my best to drag myself out of the pit I made. I struggled. I learned. I grew.
What if I had been raised better?
What if I had been protected, loved, cherished, validated?
I can reparent myself as I learn how to gently parent my four children. I can repair and heal myself as I learn better ways.
I’ve spent over twenty years stressed and anxious about my four kids.
I have running commentary inside my head all the time:
Am I doing this right? Am I doing enough? Should I back off? Should I do this? Should we stop that? What can I do differently? What is working or not?
And I have so many regrets about doing the wrong things when I was a younger and more inexperienced parent.
What are my expectations and are they about my ego or what’s best for my child?
We sometimes struggled to give our kids the life we didn’t have. We have no guidance or role models.
When children are little, parents do have to make (sometimes hard) decisions for the child. I try to include my kids and respect them, but sometimes I have to override their wishes to make the best choice for their well-being.
Children naturally trust parents and are attached to them as caregivers. They have little choice, so it’s very important that I do the best I can and treat them well and respectfully. I want my children to grow up healthy in mind, body, and spirit. Better than I was.
I made sure we enrolled the kids in recreational sports, dance, gymnastics, music, art – whatever was available and they expressed interest in. The kids often shared my enthusiasm and we were careful not to pressure them. If they expressed they wanted to move on or update their interests, we welcomed their input and made necessary changes.
As my kids grow into teens and young adults, they sometimes express themselves to me and their dad in ways that hurt. I try really hard not to be triggered or take it personally. I try to listen and understand. I cry alone, in secret. I don’t want my kids to feel guilty or wrong for telling me their thoughts, wishes, dreams, feelings. I want them to feel safe to tell me anything. I don’t want to put pressure on my children to rescue me.
I worry constantly if I’m saying or doing something like my parents did to me.
I have to update my expectations often as I continually remind myself and realize that my children are individuals with their own lives to lead. Parents surely have dreams for their children, but we can’t and shouldn’t impose that or try to live vicariously through our kids.
I have spent over twenty years meeting physical needs and trying my best to guide my children into being healthy adults – mentally, emotionally, psychologically.
If the consequences of my child’s action or inaction does not affect me, then I must force myself to back off.
My kids this spring are 11, 14, 15, and my eldest will be 21 this fall.
I have imparted my values to them. I guide them and answer questions. I try to be proactive. I tell them what my experiences were in similar situations.
I can only be as concerned as my child.
My child’s grades do not affect me.
My child’s hair, skin, makeup, clothing is their personal choice.
My child’s possessions are their responsibility and I cannot dictate how they treat their possessions.
It is not up to me how my child spends her money (whether money is earned or a gift).
My child’s choice to quit or postpone college is not about me.
My child’s car (after age 18) is her responsibility for maintenance, insurance, gas, repairs.
My child’s choice to move into an apartment is not my fault nor can I control anything about it.
My adult child’s food choices are not my concern unless they become disordered or extreme.
My child’s tax return is her responsibility to gather paperwork and to file.
It is not my job to say “should.”
It is not my job to offer unsolicited advice.
It is my concern to help my child manage her personal hygiene and keep her room relatively clean and neat for physical and mental health and to learn executive function.
My child’s health is my concern. No matter her age. I worry about physical, mental, and dental health. I worry that my adult child has to buy her own health insurance this fall. I worry about some of her personal choices that could pose problems later. I worry that I will want or have to rescue her from herself.
While I will, of course, rescue my child in an emergency (in most cases), it is not my duty to be anxious that she makes different choices than I did or would in her circumstances.
I do intervene when a child’s mistake, words, physical abuse, action, or inaction affects her siblings or others. It is often difficult to parent a child who doesn’t react to natural consequences or is constantly flippant, expecting the problems to just go away on their own. Lack of empathy and refusal to make amends is not ok.
It’s been hard having a child who laughs at consequences and no punishment matters.
Parents are still constantly learning.
I am so glad I am out of the baby, toddler, and young child stages. I love having older kids and teens. Conversations are lively and exciting. I love seeing my kids still act like kids and wanting to be together and show affection to each other.
Look at how much love and joy comes from just letting people be who they are.Dan Levy
Linking up: Pam’s Party, Random Musings, Mostly Blogging, Anita Ojeda, April Harris, Marilyn’s Treats, Uncommon Suburbia, InstaEncouragements, LouLou Girls, Jeanne Takenaka, Grammy’s Grid, Our Three Peas, Grandma’s Ideas, Soaring with Him, Anchored Abode, Ridge Haven, Ginger Snap, Fluster Buster, Girlish Whims, Ducks in a Row, Katherine’s Corner, Penny’s Passion, Crystal Storms, Debbie Kitterman, Slices of Life, Answer is Choco, Momfessionals, Simply Sweet Home, Embracing Unexpected, OMHG, CWJ, Create with Joy,