I have to say that I am a little bit tired of reading the parent blogs out there that are written in a cynical and sarcastic tone, aimed at writing about their "real experience" of parenting. The mundane. The daily. Their tone seems to be getting whinier, more impatient, entitled and quite honestly disrespectful of their children. It's become so commonplace and truly a societal norm to rag on your kids, and your experience that we don't even bat an eyelash when someone says or writes it. Bitching and sighing and huffing and puffing has become our knee jerk response. Insidious, really. The wallowing and woe-is-me attitude is getting trite. Can you just envision our parents, our aunts, or grandmothers constantly kvetching about how hard it is and how much trouble it all is.
Also, our judgement of others astounds me. You want to fuck around on pinterest and give your kid an awesome *insert whatever here*, go, do! I can't wait to partake. If you don't want to do that, go, don't. You want to elf on the shelf? great. You don't? great. You co-sleep? great. You cried it out with them? great. Not happy with being a stay at home mom, get a part time job. Not happy being a full time employee, tweak schedule. Make choices and commit. Onward.
Does. it. work. for. you and your family (not being contingent on what Sally or Susan are doing)? Great. I call this "assured parenting", notice I didn't say "correct parenting", or "perfect parenting". We're doing the best we can.
Parenting can feel like the abyss at times, right? right. Short of drop kicking your child, starving your child, selling your child on craigslist, or having sex with your child, you're probably doing an ok job at parenting and I wouldn't dream of getting involved.
I believe what a child needs from us is unconditional love/safety/security/support/boundaries AND OUR PRESENCE. An example of this is the time our wee family went to Oahu. Amazing trip. All sorts of activities, fun for all. Snorkeling, surfing, eating (not too much because its too expensive), etc, etc, etc.
About after a month upon returning form our trip, my 5 year old is in the back seat of my car and I see her sorta sullen. I ask her what's up and what she was thinking about. She says "oh, I was daydreaming about Hawaii". I assumed she was daydreaming of the beach, the stuff and the beauty of it all. I said "what about Hawaii are you thinking about"? She says "the pool. And that little room". "That little room"?, I ask. "Yes, the room all four of us were together in. It was so much fun." I nearly cried. What my daughter had remembered and was feeling nostalgic about was the time we had spent together. Unencumbered, present, and focused on each other. It was a real eye opener for us.
As a marriage and family therapist, I've seen my share of families. When a couple has brought in their 16 year old to get "fixed", I always say "First off, Congratulations, you have a teenager". AND I say "what sort of discipline/boundaries did you have in place when they were 6 years old? how about 16 months old"? Meaning, that parenting begins instantly.
But wait. Is parenting hard? Fuck yes it is! It should be.
We sometimes act like we'd signed up for this though.....
Listen, we are raising beings. Guiding characters. Modeling behaviors. We're demonstrating resilience, vigor, gratitude, how we're fallible, kindness, grace and acceptance.
All of this suffice it to say that I believe we don't need to sugar coat and romanticize parenting (please, no), but, lets also rethink the way we communicate the bitch sessions. Our children hear us. They can feel it from us.
You may or may not agree with me (and that is totally ok), but, alas, it's my space to write my thoughts. Get your free blog at blogspot.com and go buck wild, mate.