Wednesday, January 2, 2008

On Being a Parent

In the comments section on my last post, I brought up the issue of the difficulty of parenting. And in visiting Baby Burgh's mom today, I laughed at her sweet daughter throwing things away, remembering when my kids learned to do that. I was so pleased, until they started throwing away the silverware, specifically the spoons along with their discarded yogurt containers (this was before I recycled - not like that would have helped). The kids have all done equally bone headed things over the years, and I, in my scatter brained fashion of parenting, have stood by and observed at times when I should have been stepping in.

Over time I have taken parenting courses (horrible things), read books (always confusing, or too general), listened to the advice of others (occasionally some really good feed back). Now that I have two teenagers, I could really use a power course on parenting. Unfortunately, I think that parenting teens is something that's too specific to each child to have a successful course. I think observation has probably been my most effective learning experience. Watching what NOT to do, as well as what to do. And partnering with my husband is key. He's such a better father than I am a mother. Now. The teens seem to be where he shines as a dad, and for that I'm deeply grateful.

Some of my parenting restraint (you heard me - parenting teens requires great restraint SO MUCH of the time) has been in remembering my own early teen years. I bite my tongue and make allowances when I remember the pain and awkwardness of boy craziness, school, general flightiness (worse as a teen). I stop arguing when it becomes circular. Walk away. I fuss about clean rooms, but allow them to do it themselves, in their own time. The most frustrating room mess-er has taken to cleaning of her own accord WHEN SHE CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE. I NEVER thought that would happen.

One book which has been extremely helpful has been Dan Allender's, How Children Raise Parents: The Art of Listening to Your Family. The first line of chapter one (Listening to the Voice of Your Children) is this: Aging is inevitable, while becoming mature is uncertain. From there he identifies the two questions that all children ask from the moment they are born, as well as the four types of responses all parents can give. Yes, it's general. But he gives specific examples from his own life. He really just tells the story of life with his own children, the mistakes he made in parenting, the things he did right. He's gut level honest. It's a beautiful thing. I love the book because it makes me feel human, not like some weird parenting freak. His mistakes are huge, and he gives insight to his selfishness in the parenting process - something I acknowledge as a parent. I want things to be just so because I want it, or because it will be a good reflection on me. Do I really care about my kids, who they are as human beings? Especially now that they're TEENAGERS?!? Not always. Mostly. Argh.

So if I had a new year's resolution, it would be to get to know my kids better. To be involved in who and what they are. To love them for who they are right now. And to allow the consequences of their actions to occur because I love them. Because they'll never mature otherwise. Argh. Parenting is hard.

until I write again ...

Flea

15 comments:

Marguerite said...

This reminded me of Brandon's favorite quote:

Jeff Foxworthy on the toddler and the 400 pound TV perched on the dinner tray: "Let him pull it down on his head a few times. He'll learn!"


For the record, your kids seemed mostly normal to me the last few times I've hung out with them. :)

Flea said...

That's a great quote. Didn't Brandon do that when he was a kid? :P

And thanks. They're normal to the naked eye, but grab a microscope and well ... it's now when things really start moving and shaking. This whole hormone thing, about the time that mine are starting to change and go crazy, is too much for me. I'm so glad to have Chris.

Karen said...

I'm with you on that. I need to take time to listen more and talk less. I think that's the key to raising kids, and teens espeically.

Melissa said...

I think raising teenagers must be much like herding cats. It seems like a good idea when you start it and then you realize just how futile the whole situation is.

Thanks for the recommendation of the book. I've been looking for another book so I can get free shipping from Amazon. Now I'm set! Yippee!

Flea said...

It's a really good book. Just know that he tackles the whole subject as a Christian. He does it really well - I just don't anyone yelling at me because I didn't say anything. I think the honesty in a Christian is refreshing. :) Did I say that?

The Sports Mama said...

I've found that I have to get to know my teenage son all over again about once a month or so. He changes that often!

We take one day a month, just he and I, and go to lunch and just hang out. I don't lecture, and he doesn't whine. I love those days! I dread the day when he decides he's too cool to do that anymore. *sigh*

Flea said...

So once a month? I remember that growing up, things changed about every six months, then every year. Then we hit a nice even stretch. Once a month? Thanks for the tip. The Daddy is taking the 14 year old to dinner tonight. Guess we'll have to make this a habit. :)

KIDZMAMA said...

Oh the teenage years seem so far away for me and mine. Our oldest is by far our easiest child. Very practical, smart, and down to earth. So you're telling me I won't recognize her come teendom? Great.

Flea said...

Basically our kids are the same as they were even as babies. I look at pictures of my kids laughing now and I see the exact same look as baby pictures. Their personalities are mainly the same. More so. It's like someone replaced my adorable children with real people when I wasn't looking. What little facade of control I had is gone. Now I guide. But they are definitely individuals now. I think that's the hard part - I no longer have control. MY role has changed, leaving me feeling adrift. Still trying to do things the old way. That, and their brains have fallen out.

Maria said...

Parenting teens is such a complex issue, but I love it more than anything. I thought I never wanted my kids to grow up, but I can't believe I'm actually enjoying the teen years. Sometime it's the most frusterating thing! It's a contant thing for me to worry about. I love learning tips from other parents about their teens.

KellyJean said...

Hey There! Your comment over at PW caught my eye! I, too, homeschooled for 9 years and have sent my kids to school this year!

Flea said...

Maria - I think I've always looked forward to my kids growing up. I'm like a kid that way. I wanna be older NOW! :) So I have to slow down and savor the now.

Kellyjean - why did you stop? I hated homeschooling. And you?

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I'm glad I was able to send you down memory lane for a moment :-)

A friend of mine keeps asking me for advice with her son that's a few months younger than Alexis and I keep getting weirded out by it. I think you hit on the exact reason. Each kid is so different, there is no book or class that can give you the right answer. My advice might help, but everything I do is tailored to Miss Independent. She's thrives on figuring things out by herself, so I have to let her do it. Should be wildly fun when she's a teen.

Suzie Eller said...

Flea, you told me today you wanted to read one of my books. Maybe Real Issues, Real Teens: What Every Parent Needs to Know is a good start. : ) You sound like a great mom, and perhaps this book would be just one more tool or resource. Let me know, okay?

Flea said...

Thank you! I'll get back over to Boomer Babes Rocks. :)