I knew exactly how to be a great parent…when I was a kid. 8 year old me said “if my kids want to stop at Dairy Queen- we are stopping!” and “my kids can have as many pets as they want”. I figured out that one the hard way when I looked around at the zoo my own 8 year had acquired- a lizard, fish tank, cat and two dogs. 8 year old me got grown up me into a few messes. I was not going to yell at my kids or ever hurt their feelings. I was going to have endless patience (and money). Later in life I started tracing my struggles with relationships and money and school back to my parents less than perfect parenting.
‘What would my academic career have looked like if my parents had known that I had ADHD? I fantasize that with more structure and pushing I would have been a straight A student bound for med school. Realistically, structure and pushing have never been helpful to me. Had my parents insisted that “I work up to my potential” rather than sitting back and allowing me to figure it out for myself it is possible I would have won more awards, it is more likely that I would have rebelled and made a mess of my life. We can’t see the rockiest road not taken.
When I make decisions about my parenting, I start from our relationship- I want to respond honestly, from who I am and what I know and do what I think is best for the people I think my kids are. This is why I can’t figure out how to write a parenting book. I don’t know your kid… and don’t know you, what you need. I know me… and I am still learning to know my kids.
Often as parents we are up against what we thought life would look like. We had ideas about who our kids would be and the kind of parents we would get to be. Those ideas just aren’t always helpful. Kids are not lab rats, they are not science experiments or equations. It is never as simple as do this- get that. There is absolutely no way we can get parenting right. And if we can’t get it right, than we also can’t get it absolutely wrong. We try stuff, we adjust and we try other stuff. There is room for mistakes and do overs. We can try again, we can apologize, make it up to them, learn to do better. We get a whole lifetime of parenting, not even just 18 years, to work on learning to actually be the best kind of parent that your kids need.
I only have a couple more options this spring- no workshops over the summer, I want everyone outside until the end of summer. Check out mom retreats, Emotionally Coaching Your Kids, and Stop Yelling.