I never thought parenting was going to be easy but I didn’t realise how far in every direction I would be pushed and pulled within my parenting abilities. Welcome to the fine line of parenting! Trying to create well-balanced children is proving to be a lot harder than I thought and has made me question my own thoughts on particular topics as well as how I project these thoughts and feelings on the kids.
In the beginning, parenting consists of teaching kids the basic fundamentals. Facial expressions, love, happiness, how to move, touch, listen, laugh. Eventually, we teach them basic play skills, walking and social interaction. I thought I had parenting down packed. Well, sort of. But then my kids became people with minds of their own and the more complex aspects of life suddenly became a lot harder to teach. Certain situations that we come across in life are not just black and white, or right or wrong so how do you teach your child tha
t a certain behaviour could be the right thing to do but in a certain situation could be the wrong thing to do? How do you teach them to work out the variables depending on the situation?
One of the first times I became aware of this was walking down the street with my son. We had walked past a couple and I had said hello. At the ripe old age of 4 he asked me why I had said hello to strangers. There it was. Everything I had taught him so far was not to talk to strangers and here I was talking to a stranger. How do I explain that it is okay to say hello to people in the street because they are okay? Who decided they were okay? Well, I did and I found it difficult to explain my justification to a 4 year old.
Another time was when my son came up against another boy in the playground. He got into trouble but he told me he was standing his ground and defending himself. How do I explain to a 5 year old that it isn’t okay to push someone but if you are provoked it is okay to defend yourself and stick up for yourself? How do teach that fine line between aggression and not being a push over?
As a parent, I want to raise beautiful, caring, loyal, compassionate children. But I also want to raise strong, resilient, not be pushed around children. How do you create this balance? Teaching your children the balance of learning when a situation is okay and when it is not okay is hard and sometimes those boundaries get blurred, even when we are adults.
In the last few years, I have had a couple of experiences with both my children where their behaviour has been communicated to me. Each situation has not been black and white and I have tried to analyse what has led to this particular behaviour. Within each situation is always a child learning and pushing boundaries and I try to work out how to allow that essential part of childhood and for them to experience and learn but also teach them that their behaviour had a negative impact on others.
Some of the qualities that my children show are strong leadership skills. They both speak their mind, a bit like their mother, are firm when they don’t want to do something, assertive when something isn’t right or they don’t like something. These are all qualities that I am super proud of them for having and possessing. I believe they will serve them well in the big wide world and although these traits can be tough to deal with sometimes I prefer that they are stubborn and stand up for themselves than allowing people to walk all over them.
I am on the cusp of entering a new realm of parenting and I am aware that my children are looking less to me for the answers and are now looking to a greater group of people to help form their opinions on what and how to treat other people. I can only do my best and try and teach my children the importance of being aware of how you treat others and that your actions can have an impact on the world and people around you. They need to start deciding if that will be a positive or negative thing depending on the situation and will they be proud of what they have done.
I also feel it is important to teach them that it is okay to make mistakes. Perhaps the decision or how you acted wasn’t the best way in that situation but we learn from it and try and do better next time. I am a firm believer in my children knowing that I make mistakes also and you don’t just become an adult and have it all worked out. I still don’t always treat people the way I should and I do make bad decisions. It is what we do next time that matters and how we can try to make better choices next time.
I try to teach ownership of how we behave and how it makes others feel. It is important that they don’t pass the blame or make excuses but accept that they may have hurt someone’s feelings or made a bad decision. Sometimes in the morning, I yell. I’m not proud of it but I don’t have the patience and I end up yelling. I try to teach the children that I could have reacted better but I didn’t. Sometimes I use an excuse that I have a lot on my mind and I reacted, especially when I have asked them to stop behaving a certain way for the 254th time. I try to teach my son that we shouldn’t make excuses we should just accept ownership of how we behaved, apologise and move forward. We can always try to do better and that is the main thing in my eyes.
I will also try to teach them as they get older to think for themselves. They need to feel confident in the decisions that t
hey make. They need to take time to think if what they are doing or saying is the right decision. Are they happy with how they are behaving or making someone feel? I want them to understand how their actions can affect other people in a positive and a negative way.
Right now I am blindly walking through parenting and hoping for the best! I see some of my not so great qualities in the kids now and cringe that they have learnt a negative behaviour from how I have behaved. I do also try to look at all the positive things I am teaching them as well. It makes me feel slightly better! Forever more there will be a fine line with parenting. It won’t ever change as they grow to teenagers and young adults and then they won’t even care what my opinion is anyway!
When my children behave badly or their behaviour has been negative and affected others, I try to think of this quote that:
There are no bad kids, just impressionable, conflicted young people, wrestling with their emotions and impulses. Trying to communicate their feelings and needs the only way they know how.
May we raise strong, confident, thoughtful, passionate, caring kids the best way we know how.