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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This Parenting Thing

I don't write about parenting much, since its really not my crowning achievement. I don't think fast, which makes decisiveness very challenging, especially when four children and one husband are asking five separate and demanding questions all at the same time.
Hence, my parenting style is perceived as quite laid back. Its more accurate to say that it takes me so long to make a decision, that the children happily run amuck while I stand around with my finger up my nose trying to think of the correct response. And, because I think too much, I overthink what that correct response might be.

While visiting my parents on the weekend, my mom made a comment about how she might have done things differently in raising us kids, and dad mused on what mistakes they might have made. It was easy for me to suggest that perhaps they'd not made many mistakes.

I know it now from the other side- that murky and confusing side of being the one who should do and say and know everything right.

There are a few simple things that I practise to keep myself from tripling my meds and running into the endless prairies barefoot and screaming for the Lord's return. One is to say "hmmmm" a great deal, while studying my children's faces. This communicates attentive listening and makes them believe that what they say is valid and worth my time. The other is to be evasive whenever possible. Quickly pronounced yes's and no's would only ensure that I'd have to have all my justifications at quick reference and just doesn't leave enough room for all the information that I've probably not yet assimilated. Another easy tip is to occasionally remind my children that I used to be a person. That radical statement may be a bit of a jolt to many a developing mind, but it might in fact save that same mind from possible future electro convulsive shock therapies.

When my kids grow up, they'll likely come back to me with lists of what I've done wrong to damage and maim their tender little selves. I hope I'll find the presence of mind to take a deep breath, gaze into their eyes, and........
"hmmmmmmm".

9 comments:

deb said...

I don't think I'm cut out to be a parent, it's too much like middle management. My mother still gives my advice, she did last night in an underhanded and I'm sure she thought, very subtle comment about Katie throwing things on the floor. The comment was along the lines of, if maybe we just tried a little harder, Katie wouldn't throw her cup on the floor. It's really too bad we hadn't thought of trying that!
Oh, that's right, we've been trying for what 12 years now.
I'm hoping I'll be better with grandchildren. I'm awesome with neices and nephews.

Michele said...

i hope my kids will remember that i told them that honour and integrity is important, and that they will forget that i am not above lying to the principal so they can get out of school for the day.

andrea said...

I've noticed that becoming a parent has one of two effects on your view of your own childhood: either you learn newfound respect for your parents because it's damned hard and they did a great job, or exactly the opposite: contempt for the way they continually screwed up. Is there any middle ground or is parenting so emotionally charegd that it's one or the other?

esther said...

that would actually be a VERY interesting conversation with my Mama...what she would have done differently. always learning, hey?!?!

oxoxox

it's a gong show... said...

Oh Joyce, you're such great therapy for me! I love the hmmmmm...it sounds very familiar.

Homo Escapeons said...

Wow michele summed it up perfectly..do as I say not as I didn't!
Take advantage of the fact that each child is unique and requires a different 'style' of parenting (as long as you are consistent) and that all children are complete Narcissists!

Life....by the time you sort of figure out what works your little cloning experiments are finishing University and on their way...
try to remember that these are THE best years of THEIR lives too ((sigh))

Donna said...

Now that I'm a mum of four and know how often I screw up and wonder how much I'm screwing up my kids; I reflect often on how my mum raised four of us with great adversity ( definately not perfectly, you could say even dysfunctionally) and mostly on her own; then on how much I love and adore her, how much she sacrificed and did the best she knew how. I then remember my kids will at least love me that much.

Heather said...

Oh yeah, I'm a master at the evasive answer. And yet my daughters (especially the middle one who has the mind of a lawyer) always figure out how to turn my indecisive answer into one that suits them.

Danielle B. said...

Amen! I especially use the Hmmmmm alot since she has become a tweenager! How funny you should mention this ;)