Monday, June 14, 2010

How We Learn To Let Go and Let Our Children Be Who They Are

It is the first full week of summer break (which is 6 short weeks for my kids) and I am one of those strange parents who rejoice in the breaks. Not that it doesn't irritate me when my kids fight (and yes, they fight often) but I enjoy being with my children. I enjoy seeing the people they have become. I enjoy seeing glimpses of the children they are becoming. I watch seeing they develop on their own. I ooo and ahhh over the grand capture of 14 toads on a rainy day. I watch my children discover and delight in life.

Even nearly 8 years after my oldest was born, and 6 years after my son was born (and 2+ years after the youngest) I still am learning about how to be an effective parent. Parenting is hard. Flexibility is key. Also knowing which mountains to die on. I try this as a mantra...do I care enough about this issue to die on the mountain? Often I don't. It helps ease stress in parenting for me.

The goal of parenting is to raise children who are self-sufficient and self-correcting. When I hear comments from other parents who (most of the time) compliment my children I know that I am doing a fairly good job. Also? When my kids challenge me or their father I know I'm raising kids who think, who question authority, who don't follow blindly, yet also know when they've overstepped their bounds. (A quickly phrased "excuse me?" when insolence appears will quickly result in an "I'm sorry.")

When I hear things like "M is my one true friend because she likes me even though I can't do what the other kids do." I know I am raising my kids right.

When my son brings smiles to even strangers' faces (along with all the teachers, helpers, paraprofessionals, older kids, doctors, etc.) for all his energy and exuberance for life I know I am raising my kids right.

I often wish that I could stop time and enjoy my kids as babies, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary schoolers...

But the reality is that if they were to be frozen in any of those stages (and there is only one way that they would be) I would be absolutely devastated. So thank God my kids continue to grow and move away from me gradually, but surely.

I recognize that parenting is hard. I also know that I am lucky to have this privilege of parenting children. I often make mistakes but I think I am getting better at this as the years roll by. I know I am training these people to leave me. I let them ride their bikes to the neighbor's house (which isn't as close as I'd like in this situation!). They ride off in a tractor with another neighbor's grand kids. They have a blast. We release just another bit of control over their lives.

My older kids ask to use a restroom. I worry about letting them go on their own. I worry more about the boy than the girl. I can't tell why. Gradually, they go on their own. All seems fine, but I still yank back control on occasion.

Once the kids go to school without me I know I have to let go a little. They will meet other adults who will influence them. They will meet children who will definitely influence them. I can only pray that the lessons I teach at home will spill over in the real world.

So far so good.

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Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Kudos!

It's clear you were meant to be a mom. :)

Tell me about these mountains, though, and about dying on them...?

for a different kind of girl said...

This morning, I sent my 8 year old off on his first full day camp. He's randomly gone to some half morning preschool camps before he aged out, and sending him to those didn't really stress me out the way today worried me. I thought 9 hours would be more than he could deal with, away from home, his brother, his friends here. When I picked him up tonight, he was filled with stories, already loving his counselors, and happy to hang out with friends from his class he discovered when his Dad dropped him off this morning. It made me shake my head and wonder why in the world I worry as much as I do sometimes, kids are resilient and all that business, but clearly, it's our job. I think it's then our kids' job to throw us for a loop!

Pgoodness said...

Every day my kids amaze me with who they are becoming. Ever a work in progress, I definitely have to pull back sometimes. And choosing battles? By far the best advice I have ever been giving in regard to parenting.

 
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