The Learning Curve Is a Sharp One

We had to choose a class to attend during the Sunday evening service. I gravitated toward the parenting class because one can always learn something in that area, but in reality we doubted how enlightening it would be. We've been parenting for 15 years. And it was aimed at the parents of toddlers.

In the first session we were told nothing about parenting. Instead we were encouraged to spend time with our spouse. Specifically, sit on the couch every evening - just the two of you - and take a few minutes to discuss the day without allowing the kids to interrupt, or the television to invade, or with the distraction of a book at hand. I don't know about you, but we're not into hokey-weird stuff like that. And in what parallel universe would the kids just sit back and entertain the dogs so that you could have quiet time together?

Turns out, it has a purpose. And I learned something valuable.

The purpose is to teach the kids that Mom and Dad put each other first. (And bonus! We all know that there's nothing better for a woman's self worth than to know that her husband puts her above all else.) Kids that know their parents love each other will thrive on this one-on-one time without their presence. Not at first, mind you. And maybe their little brains won't ever register that they love it, but subconsciously it'll click. The kids walking the halls at night, seeking mom and dad's bedroom, will not need that nightly assurance that mom and dad do spend quality time together. And the kids that are all me-me-me will realize that mom and dad's universe spins just fine without junior at the center holding things together.

If kids aren't being subconsciously prompted to keep their parents together, whether that's by engaging them in mom-against-dad tactics or having mom and dad plot how best to punish for THIS offense (Hey, look! They're interacting!) - they're now freed up to just be kids. What a relief this has got to be for them.

And then my little brain went *click* and I realized that despite being 4-time parents (that's like being a 4-time Olympic medalist) we really do have a lot to learn. Especially with our youngest child, who spends his days wrapping us around his pinky finger. The child who's controlling and demanding and trying his best to find out if mom and dad love each other as much as they love him. And I can see how this happened, because after he came into our lives things did revolve around him. His therapy schedule, his doctor appointments, his IEP meetings, his surgeries. We put Micah first out of necessity, and we put Micah first out of fear and parental protection. If we don't fiercely love him by putting him first above all else, he won't have a shot at making it in this world. I mean, he was born with a disability; he already has a strike against him.

And because we wanted to help him the best way that we knew how, we have made life difficult for him. Sometimes parenting involves learning things that hurt.


Anonymous said...

That is a class I would sign-up for in a heartbeat!

I can't imagine the fine line you walk on a daily basis in deciding the best way to help, support, encourage, and advocate for Micah. How much is too much?! Even with a child without special needs, I think every parent is tempted to try to capture the stars for them!

(And when you put together your manuscript for the book you are writing about all the things that Micah has taught you, sign me up to read it!)

Katy said...

That's a tough one and one that I think a lot of SN moms face--finding the right balance between meeting their needs and making it too easy on them.

I heard a strategy once that said that the first ten minutes that Dad is home is just for Mom and Dad--no interruptions from the kids for the first ten minutes. This would never work at my house, but it does seem like a plan as opposed to the haphazard method my husband and I usually employ for together time. said...

It's strange, but I thought of our 19 year old when reading your post. Tonight there was an altercation between she and I that I thought should have been interceded by her father and he didn't. It seems like this happens a lot and I resent it. We need to talk about it, I know... Soon he will. :-)

Unknown said...

I so agree with what your class taught. Maybe ours isn't sitting on the couch talking but our kids know that Friday night is date night. Very few things come before date night. I can look back at my childhood and wish I had known my parents put each other first (they did, still marred after like 40 something years)
I can only imagine how much harder this would be if we had a child with a disability.

Michelle said...

I love this... especially after you explained it more, as I had the same initial reaction that you did. Huh.

And a book to recommend in general? Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg's Building a Resilient Child. SO interesting (I'm only a little way in) but so many things I can see with Mister Man!

the planet of janet said...

brilliant... and oh so true. the kids know that we treasure each other. a fabulous feeling for me, as well -- since previous experience led *me* to believe i had no value.


Leanne said...

Interesting. You mean our lives ISN'T supposed to be completely taken over by our kids? Who knew? Hubby, who's that? :)

Joyce said...

Such a great lesson. We all need moments of teaching and reminders to keep us in balance. Love the heart too.

The Sports Mama said...

I think I've talked about this before.... but it's so true! Mom and dad need to have that time, and the kids need to see it.

For us, it's about reinforcing the idea that we are a parenting unit, but also so that my boys get it in their heads now what kind of relationship they want later. And its a great reminder to US that we were partners before we became parents.

Karen Deborah said...

you said this so well. I think the difference is that kids used to be born and join a family; now when kids are born they ARE the family. Way to much status off the bat. Sounds like you got a lot out of the class. Micah will always need more and he will need you and your husband to be rock solid more too. It's a cool concept, so go out on a date.

caramama said...

What a fantastic class and analysis you've made. I can totally see the importance of this. I'm not sure that having the children be quiet/leave us alone in the evenings would work for us the way it's described, but we try to instill the same idea in other ways.

When we are all sitting together for dinner, my husband and I talk about our days. When my daughter tries to interrupt (used to be constant, but now is less frequent), we tell her that mommy/daddy is talking or telling a story and she needs to wait. We also make a point to show our affection for each other by hugging and even kissing in front of our kids. We want to make sure they see that we give each other the affection that we give them.

It's all a balance isn't it? The spouse, the kids, the house, the job, the time for oneself. All are important. But in my mind, the relationship between my husband and myself is the core of everything.

Flea said...

Is that the GKGW class? I liked that principle, but had a huge number of issues with the class in general. It sounds good, though, what you're learning for your kids sake. :)