Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 5:35 PM

Or maybe I should have titled this “Why Do We Make Parenting So Hard?”

This is not going to be about #1 son (for a change). #1 son has his ups and downs, but on the whole he’s turning into a fairly reasonable human being, and I actually go for whole days now totally enjoying his company.

Recently I read a piece from a parent who’s having a tough time, and I keep turning it over in my mind and wondering… why do we make parenting so hard?

Don’t get me wrong. Parenting is probably the single most important job any of us can ever have — way more important than the other mundane things that usually grab for our attention with an illusion of significance. And parents are humans and make mistakes. I know that parenting styles are different, and that’s OK. I know that each kid is different, too, and each kid requires a different style of parenting. There’s no one-size-fits-all method.

I know for a fact that the “Mother Of The Year” award will never come my way. There are parenting moments I’m not proud of. When #1 son first came along, a wise person told me, “You will want to be a perfect parent. It won’t happen. But strive to be a good enough parent. That’s attainable.” And hopefully I have been a “good enough” parent.

I do think there are a few things I’ve done well, and a few items of — if not wisdom, then maybe common sense? — that I’ve gleaned over the years.

— Kids are people, too, and deserve to be treated with respect. How can I expect my kid to respect me, if I don’t respect him? I want my child to learn to treat people with respect simply because every human being is deserving of it. The best way to teach him that is to practice it.

— Kids are not stupid. They understand and comprehend much more than adults give them credit for. Explaining the reasoning behind a rule, privilege or punishment teaches decision making because it shows that decisions are not made arbitrarily but have some rhyme and reason behind them. And, in the process, it teaches what values I hold important in a far more powerful way than simply saying, “This is what I believe. Believe it yourself and live by it or else.”

— Don’t punish for something that you haven’t already made a rule for. Don’t punish behaviors that are part of normal childhood. Don’t make a threat that you aren’t prepared to follow through with it. And, if necessary, follow through immediately and always.

— Be consistent.

— It’s a kid’s job to grow away from his/her parents. Sometimes that’s a rocky road, and a normal child will test the boundaries constantly in ways appropriate to their age.

— The best way to “win” a power struggle with your kid is not to get into one in the first place. When it looks like a storm is brewing, give a kid two equally acceptable choices and let them pick one. And then let them live with the consequences of that choice. This works even with toddlers (would you rather wear your blue shirt or your red shirt today?). As long as it’s their choice, and as long as either choice is acceptable to the parent, then there’s nothing to struggle about. Sometimes the consequences might not be what the kid expected, and that’s a perfect time for an offhand remark to the effect that Yeah, sometimes things just don’t work out the way we want. That’s why it’s important to think our choices through carefully, because we always have to live with the result and be responsible for the consequences. End result: A kid who has lots of practice making choices in a safe environment, who understands that one has to be responsible for the consequences of one’s choices, and who won’t fall victim to the victim mentality.

— Something I heard once from, of all people, Dr. James Dobson — a man who I rarely agree with on anything — really rang true: The kid who will say no to his parents is the same kid who will also say no to his peers when they ask him to take part in “bad” behaviors. Something to consider when tempted to “beat them into submission.”

— There’s no excuse for hitting a child.

— Communication is a two-way street. Don’t expect your child to listen to you if you don’t listen. Even if your child stops talking to you, never stop talking to them. Never ever. Never.

— Tell your child every day that you love them. Even when you’re angry or upset. Make sure they understand that you will always love them, even when you don’t like their behavior. Make sure they understand that you will always love them, even when they are yelling I hate you! at you.

— Everybody does better with at least 5 hugs per day. Make sure that your kid is well supplied.

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