Knock on wood
Getting my kids to the teen years has been a huge relief. Not only do I get to go out without a babysitter but finally have a sense that some of my parenting actually took. After 33 years and lots of well earned grey hairs, I actually feel confident teaching parenting classes.
I know my boys can stand up for themselves and fight for what they believe in…because they sure can fight with me.
I know my boys can lean into relationships, ask for what they need and allow others to nurture them… because they certainly still need me.
I know my boys can hold people accountable, let them know when someone has let them down, disappointed them or hurt their feelings…because they sure know how to give me hell when I mess up.
I know my boys can manage conflict and hang in there, they can forgive and let go…because they fight day and night and still choose to spend time together and they forgive me every time I mess up.
I know my boys can form strong opinions and express themselves because I couldn’t have picked anything in their bedroom… not their clothes, not their music, not their decor.
I know my boys can show their love, care for others, and be respectful because that is what I hear at conferences… and in their friendships… and on rare occasions even with me.
Parenting isn’t very rewarding. You can’t really know if you’re doing it right. You certainly can’t measure your success by their behavior or their feelings or their satisfaction. Can you imagine if the measure of good parenting was making them happy? Ice cream for breakfast, no chores or school and certainly no bedtimes. Your kids can’t really appreciate all that you do. They can’t take care of you. They don’t know all that we worry about, all that goes into making their lives work.
I have been reading a ton about burnout (remember my 2018 resolution to read less? Massive fail.) A few things about avoiding burnout that I think speak to parenting.
The perception that the needs out way the resources is horribly stressful. Remember that you are enough for your kids. They are loved and safe and have a pretty great life.
Giving up traditional hierarchical parenting strategies (mostly spanking and shaming) means we chose to parent with respect and compassion… and this sucks. It is hard. It is slow. It is messy. It often looks like you’re not doing anything.
You have to find your higher purpose. Whether you believe in God or see your kids as your karmic burden or your social justice project – you have to take on parenting at some level beyond behavior and clean rooms.
Cliche alert- The nights are long and the years are short. While your kids are doing all the things that kids are supposed to do- be the parent you are committed to being.