Parenting is not easy. Parenting is not easy. Parenting… is … not… easy. There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a parent. The avalanche of responsibility that comes with parenting can be overwhelming. First and foremost, you have to work to make sure you can provide for not only yourself but your children. Sometimes that means working two or three jobs to make sure your kids have food on the table and clothes on their back. Second, in raising a child you have to teach your children how to be an upstanding citizen and a productive part of society. You have to lead and guide them and instill values that set a foundation for them, so that when they get older they are capable of making their own positive decisions. Third, in doing all of these things you also have to nurture their emotions. I wouldn’t say that means walking on eggshells but it means handling their feelings with care and navigating teaching them the lessons of the world without breaking their spirit. While these are only a few of the tough tasks that come with parenting, each is unbelievably important.
Don’t get me wrong, just because parenting isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it’s not fulfilling. Becoming a parent changed my life completely and having my daughter has been the best thing to happen to me. There’s a phrase I often use, “Perfect Parenting.” It’s the idea that many of us have that we have to be this Perfect Parent. It is oftentimes a result of trying to prevent our children from experiencing some of the harms they themselves have experienced. It’s an exhausting task. I’ll break Perfect Parenting into a few types of parents it can create.
I want to be intentional in saying, this isn’t intended to feel like an attack. If you fall into one of these categories it’s a result of trying to do better for your children then you felt you had. It’s a method of preventing your children from some of the pain you have experienced. And trust me we have all been there before, if not in one of these categories, in another one that is a result of the desire to be this perfect parent.
This is the parent who may not have had a lot growing up. Someone who may have experienced some form of trauma as a child because they didn’t have what the other kids had such as money, or expensive clothes and/or shoes. It’s a terrible feeling like an outsider when around your peers. Because you know what that feels like, you don’t want your children to experience that so you begin to overcompensate. You over buy for your children buying them the most expensive things you can find in unnecessary quantities.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong at all with buying your children expensive items. The challenge becomes determining the why behind it. For “The Overcompensator” parents, oftentimes these purchases fill a void in their own lives and have nothing to do with the children themselves. That can turn into a dangerous whirlwind of spending that sometimes you can’t even afford.
THE BEST FRIEND
Well this one is self explanatory. This is the parent who desires to be your child’s best friend. The parent who wants to remain the “good guy” or the “cool parent.” This usually results from having parents who were overtly strict. As a result, because of all the restrictions they may have had, they parent without many boundaries and restrictions. While children need room to make mistakes, they also need someone there to teach you right from wrong and create boundaries. The lines become blurred between the “Best Friend” parent and the child, which can later result in you as a parent not having control over some areas in their child’s life.
I’ll give you an example for perspective. As a high school teacher I come across all kinds of children and parents. I see the “Best Friend” parent often. Usually it’s one of two situations. , “Well I asked them if they did their work and they told me they didn’t have any” or “I asked how they are doing in their classes and they said they are passing them all.” As a result the parent doesn’t necessarily check in with the school on the child’s actual progress. It’s not until the parent gets to the school that they get a rude awakening that a lot of what they were told from their child wasn’t true.
The other being, “I give them the options to decide what they want to do.” While the option of choice is great, there are some areas where children don’t understand the long term consequences to their choices and as parents you have to step in and be the “bad guy” to prevent your children from making life altering decisions. By no means am I saying don’t trust your children or control them how you were controlled as a child. But finding balance is key.
THE OVERBEARING PARENT
The “Overbearing Parent” is usually someone who wants to protect their children from some form of physical harm or from making the same life altering decisions that they made. I had a student whom I was trying to get to come to after school for extra help. On the several occasions that I asked her to come she expressed that she couldn’t. After about the fourth time that she told me she couldn’t, I asked her why not. She responded telling me that her parents were “controlling” and “didn’t let her go anywhere alone, not to the store, not to the park, not to a friend’s house, not even to after school. They dropped her to the door for school and picked her up from the same door after school. When I asked her why she thought they were this way she shared that her mother, as a teen, had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and was raped. The reality was her mother was trying to protect her from experiencing the same pains that she did as a child. A pain that changed her life forever.
When you have experienced that type of trauma and pain, you never in a million years wish that on anyone else, especially not your own child. So as a defense mechanism you “Perfect Parent” and shield them from the world that is full of hatred and people making poor decisions. You shield them from all of the possible things they could experience that would hurt them.
Parenting is not easy. Parenting is not easy. Parenting… is … not… easy. We only want what’s best for our children.
How Can We Move Forward?
Take from it what applies and resonates and leave the rest.
Forgive your parents. As children it’s hard to understand the why’s behind things. Why is this happening? Why don’t we have the same things as other children? Why me? When the reality is 95% percent of the time your parents were doing the best they could with what they had and what they knew.
Give yourself grace. Do the best that you can without feeling guilty when you can not provide your child with something they want without breaking the bank.
Know that your children’s love can’t be bought. They simply want your affection, support and direction. While they will also want some of the material things that society says they should have, your love is priceless. They want you to be there, be present and nurture them.
Children find friends in their peers. What they need from us as parents is guidance. You can be kind and a place of peace and comfort to your children while also creating appropriate boundaries.
Find healing from your pain. Oftentimes we suppress pain which causes us to project that pain onto those that love us most. Seek some form of therapy so that your trauma doesn’t turn into a generational curse.
I left this one for last because it’s the most important. Know that there is no such thing as a Perfect Parent. We are all using what we have learned and experienced to guide us while raising our children to be healthy (both physically and emotionally), productive parts of society. DO THE BEST
THAT YOU CAN WITH WHAT YOU HAVE. YOUR CHILDREN WILL LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOU FOR THAT IN THE LONG RUN.
Feel free to drop some tips, experiences, or comments in the comment section below