Wednesday, January 12, 2011

parent-hole

i've been thinking a lot about parenting lately.

not that this is a new thing... after all, i am a stay at home mom, thus leaving me with the kids all day, every long day.  i guess i'm just realizing that the deal with parenting is that every day you are learning, and trying and failing...

for most of us our ideas or strategies about how we 'raise' our children come from three primary places.  first and foremost, our own upbringing.  as much as we like to think we aren't going to be like our parents, the reality is-- we are. and the older we get, the more and more we become just like them.  our second major influence is our friends.  the people that we choose to raise our kids with has a huge impact on how we parent.  these are the women and men that we spend most of our time with.  our kids learn, and teach good and bad behaviors to their kids and we learn from each other how to handle it. the third major influence for some of us is our faith.  we look to our churches and synagogues and mosques (i know, i'm so pc) and try to glean on what our elders deem as valuable in raising children.  this can come through small groups, mentoring, books, etc.

i guess i just thought my kids would all come out just like me.  in my mind that seems like it would be easiest thing ever (though i've heard this is not always the case).  but since my kids seem to be nothing like me, i just feel like it would be awesome.  thankfully for me, i grew up with an amazing mom. anyone who knows me knows just how close and how influential my mom is on me.  she is my best friend and helps me daily navigate this maze called parenthood.  she has always tended to be on the touchy feely side of parenting. she's big on talking through disobedience, never one for spanking (yeah i said it) or even time-outs.  in her world, every behavior or mis-behavior is just the result of an un-met need. if the said need can be met, than all is solved.  my kids respond very well to her in all areas.  they rarely act out with her and if they do, it's quickly solved. however, the rest of the world doesn't share these same tactics.  so when they are around other adults, family or not, and they get repremended, they do not respond well.

at home, we tend to be much more strict than my mom.  we have little tolerance for disobedience.  i've heard it said that if your firstborn turns out okay, the rest of your children will be good. if that's the case, we are in deep doodoo.  for real.  she's only five, but i'm just sayin, it's really like she's 13 year old twin girls jammed into one teensy tiny pair of booty shorts.  she is firery. in a good way yes, but also in the not so good way. from the get go, i've felt like we've had to ride her pretty hard, and the older she gets, the more i'm wondering if we're on the right track.

i've read all the books (not really, but at least a few pages of most).  pre-kids we read some super gnarly fundamentalist crap about ZERO tolerance for anything.  thankfully we sobered up enough once the babies were born not to follow it.  but i did read me some babywise (pretty hard core).  then lightened up into some dr. leman, and then a little magic, and even messed around with this guy.  all of them seemed great while i read them, but none of them ever stuck or made the impact i was hoping for.

and then one day we decided we were going to adopt.  part of our adoptive parent requirements were to complete 10 hours of 'education.'  i figured we were going to learn about some basic aspects of adopting, some cultural stuff and maybe some parenting advice.  however, what we got was a pretty awesome introductory course in early childhood development. both b and i were blown away by all we were doing wrong all this great information.  interestingly enough these women that that were teaching these seminars tend to be on the uber touchy feely side of parenting.  a lot of it was specific to adopted kids, but the science behind why they parent the way they do is pretty solid.

through all of this,  i'm finding i feel really torn by where the line is drawn between trying to understand and reason with my kids and just plain enabling them.  i feel like with my oldest when i compromise or give in, i'm just turning her into a brat.  or by not disciplining oz for yelling or hitting, i'm teaching him that its okay. i'm conflicted cuz on the one hand, the new method of parenting would handle it by trying to ask why and what happened, whereas another one would be immediate time out or spanking.  its so hard to navigate these decisions so quickly in the day to day. i've learned the best way to parent is consistency.  but what happens when you aren't sure what kind of parenting you are doing?

i guess the one thing i know for sure and have learned, is that you need to choose your battles.  i've had friends and family think we're crazy for letting lily change her clothes so much or throw the house in an uproar over a certain outfit or pair of shoes.  but in the same breath i've passed that same judgement on friends that allow their kids to play hours of video games.  but i know that for our house, clothes are a deal breaker.  if we can't get wardrobe under control, the rest of the day is a challenge.

i know this is a passionate subject for a lot of people.  i also know that some things work for some kids and others don't.  with parenting there is no straight and narrow path.  there are many digressions.  i guess the hardest thing about it is that we are all trying so hard.  we all want so badly to raise happy healthy confident wonderful kids.  and just when you think maybe you just might be doing something right, your 5 year old has a massive  fit about not being able to find/wear high heels, or your almost 4 year old tries to hit the nurse as she gives him the flu mist (not the shot, the mist).

but then just when you think all is lost, you overhear your daughter in the sweetest, most tender voice talking your son through why it will be okay and not to scary to get kindergarten shots one day, or you look over and see your 4 year old son wrestling with your baby and her just cracking up at how fun he is.  its moments like those that you think that maybe all those prayers just might have been heard.

so as we continue along the journey for our new son, i'm trying my best not to get so wrapped up in the right and wrong way to parent.  i'm trying to really seek God and trust that he will help us navigate it all.  today, more than anything i'm just so thankful for all the support we have.  from all our amazing friends and even amazinger family.  i'm thankful that i have a husband who's in it to win it, and a God who loves my kids even more than i do.  cuz these days, it truly does take a village.

6 comments:

zaiahbird said...

i think everyday what a horrible mom i am. how much time i spend on other things when i should be paying attention to my kids. how horrible of a child eli is turning out to be (that is all my fault, i know that)it's freaking hard and i wonder sometimes why oh why did i do this? but then i realize how blessed i am for the three cute little kids i have that are extremely happy (well not eli most of the time) and most of all healthy, smart little beings. i do agree it takes a village and i am so so so blessed to have you and your family in my tribe.

Matt said...

That was encouraging Holly! Just realized I am pretty much scared to death that I am going to be a stay at home Dad with twins in 5 months! Glad you are part of the village:)

A.M.H. said...

I needed this today. I cried on and off all morning (and I'm not a big crier) b/c I feel so inadequate in raising my one child - and here we are adding more! Again and again I find myself coming back to the Bible for parenting advice. A very wise woman has recently showed me that there is alot more in there about parenting than I ever thought. And I completely agree - it comes down to your child's personality, choosing your battles and the village that surrounds you.

Excited to hear that your dossier is coming together!

Anonymous said...

As a more mature reader, I have to comment that not everyone was blessed with the modeling of a mother like yours-few of us actually. It's also good for those of us who only feel guilt as we read through your entry to reflect on the absolute fact that many of us were in the midst of our own 'generations' of influence and we simply did the best we knew at the time. Parenting has always been a struggle and yet a lot of us produced pretty darn good kids!

Holls said...

hmmm, interesting comment anonymous. of course it was not my intention for anyone to feel guilty reading this. more of a platform to discuss my own feelings of failure and shortcomings as a mother. it is my hope that even though i do feel like i'm often failing, that i too would produce 'pretty darn good kids.'

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