…Or Hannah or Bobby or Kaitlyn…
All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.
It has taken me some time now to work up the courage to blog about parenting. There are a whole host of reasons…not the least of which is my awareness of just how complicated the subject can be. Not to mention my own struggles over the years…constantly wondering if I’m doing it “right.” I don’t know…I honestly felt that I was terrible at it…and to be REALLY honest, I still feel that way sometimes. When my kids were younger, I was severely lacking in a sense of confidence that I knew what the hell I was doing. Now, I guess, I’m certain that I don’t know jack, and that has given me all the confidence I need to be what I need to be with my girls.
The reality I’ve discovered about parenting is, none of us know Jack…or Hannah or Bobby or Kaitlyn. And within that notion is peace—for us and for them! Here’s what I mean.
We don’t know our children, and the more we think we do, the more we project our worries onto our kids who have barely even begun to form an identity. Who will they be in 25 years? How in the heck do we think we can even remotely answer that question with any accuracy based on the crazy, mixed up, stupid stuff they do today? I mean, have you forgotten what a goof you were when you were 12? 15? 17? Have you forgotten how little you knew about pretty much everything when you were that age? And was there someone older and wiser who still believed in you…in what you could be…in what you might become? Someone who gave you the gift of not worrying about you and the gift of not projecting all that worry onto your feeble, yet-to-be-formed little brain? Someone who gave you the gift of a not-so-sticky relationship?
If you’re particularly stuck as a parent you might respond with something like, “Well, I may have done some wacky stuff as a kid, but I was never as bad as my kid is today! I would never have done the stuff he’s doing!” “Pashaaah!” I say to you. Times have changed, old man! What was edgy when you were a kid is not what is edgy or normal for kids these days. But also, I’m guessing you’re forgetting what a goof you were back then!
The bottom line: we will find there is an endless list of why our worries are justified. I promise…if you want to worry about your child you will never run out of reasons. But ask yourself as you reflect on the year that has past and as you turn your attention to the year to come: Is it helping?
I’m convinced it’s our job as parents to find ways to see past our worrying so that we can become open to the possibility of what our children can become. I’m not advocating a live and let live policy. I’m talking about finding ways to calm down as a parent. No easy task to be sure, but worth the effort. I can assure you of that.
How do people truly calm down about their kids? Here are a few things that have worked for others:
- Read ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Runkel. And visit screamfree.com for tons of resources like blog posts, webcasts, daily email subscriptions, etc. Calming down doesn’t happen in a week or even in a few months. It takes sustained effort over the long haul.
- Keep your eye on the prize…meaning ground yourself during tense moments by keeping yourself focused on the prize, the goal…the thing most every parent dreams of…that of being able to have a relationship with your kids when they leave home. Ask yourself each and every time when you feel the tension rising, is me blowing my cool right now or projecting my worries with my kid going to make it more or less likely that they’ll call me from college…or when they’re deciding to get married…or when the grandkids come along?
- Learn about the family you came from. Study it like a research project. Get curious. Develop a relationship with your long lost cousins. The more you know about where you came from, the more you will know about you and how you tick…and how your kid might tick some day. Think you know all there is to know about your family? Think again. If you can get curious about your family, you can make a difference in your child’s life. The ripple effect will amaze you. And you won’t even have to argue with your kids to achieve stable results!
- Talk to a parenting coach or therapist.
- Get your kid to talk to a therapist, and then listen to what that therapist has to say about your kid…and you. You’ll know he or she is a good therapist if she gently and firmly pushes you to think in new ways.
Happy New Year’s! May 2015 be a calmer year for you and your kids!