Monday, December 24, 2012

where the rubber meets the road in parenting

"Why do you ALWAYS do things for me!" I was taken aback, when my 9 year old son said this to me. He was making it very clear that I was overstepping and that he was capable of more... if I would allow him. These words, shouted out in frustration, have stayed with me. Somehow, without knowing it, I have become the Queen Mother of Overdo to two children who clearly still need me, but perhaps more than that they need me to let go.

A friend  told me recently that some of the best advice she's gotten as a mother is to allow her children to fail - that children learn from failure, and grow into full human beings because of it. I know she is right. I feel it in my bones. But, knowing it, and having the courage to gift your children with reasonable freedoms...that is where the rubber meets the road in parenting.

 I pride myself on being a good mother, yet perhaps I've overlooked one of the most important things of all...letting my children have their own life experiences without me.

I haven't been one for New Year's Resolutions, but this year I'm going to hold myself more accountable, shake things up. I've set my sights on that rock that sits uncomfortably high over the river. I won't spend a lot of time looking down, will take a deep breath, and with a leap of faith will jump. The water might be cold, but I'll either get used to it, or climb out, sit back with my face towards the sun, and know that I will be the better for it...and so will they.

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  1. I feel your pain. Wait till he is 16.

  2. Yes, knowing when to step back and when to stay close is one of the hardest aspects of parenting in my book, but as you said, giving them the freedom to fail and learn from it will have big payoffs down the road. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, JCK! Even though we don't "talk" often these days, I always wish you and your family well!

  3. Oh my goodness, yes. Think of it this way--when you do something for them they are capable of learning to do themselves, you are telling them (non-verbally) that they are not good enough.

    This is not meant as an indictment, because it is a very common way to parent, but it's great you're noticing it--and kudos to your boy for pointing it out.

    The bright side is that taking the time to let them learn to do all the things they can--especially when it comes to cleaning and household help--when they are young, is rewarded in spades when they are adults.

    Remember, "perfect" mothers don't exist and if they did they'd be terrible for their kids. "Good enough" mothering is where it's at!

    So happy to see you whenever you can find the time.

  4. Oh, yes, it's a tough one. But I have really started embracing it and it's well worth it. Now if only I could embrace the clutter issues and the back talk. :)


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