What the Kids Taught Me About Parenting

When Becky was 5, she tried to run away from home. Her plan was thwarted by Josh, but it wasn't the best plan anyway. She was going to live in a corner of our yard behind a hill, sneaking into her open bedroom window at night for food. It's very likely we would have found her before the week was out, had she gotten away with it.

So we were discussing this incident from the past, and Becky asked what I would do if this happened today. You know, after Micah, because we're all aware that parenting Micah has changed me in more ways than I'll ever change him. Way back when Becky was 5, I would have freaked out on the poor child had she really snuck away. She'd have been in Big Trouble, and probably would have had to clean her room as a punishment. (Think cruel and unusual, because it would have been.)

But now, I probably would have just let her alone, had a sibling confirmed that she ran off. Especially knowing that she was still in our yard and planned to stay there. I'd just let her work through her anger all by herself and decide on her own that life isn't so bad here at the Rocking Pony house. (Naps are the worst thing in the world when you're 5 - and yes, my 5 year olds napped. My kids were sleepers.)

I have learned, parenting Micah, that very little is worth getting your panties in a wad over. Kids playing on the road is worth it, and kids who intentionally hurt others - whether by words or actions - is worth it. Pretty much everything else isn't. Sometimes I'll sit back and allow kids to make mistakes on purpose to let them learn about life, and sometimes I'll even say "I told you so." But I have learned to think before acting, and in my world that's huge.

This is especially true with teens. Reacting to what teens do or say is so natural for a parent. This is partly because the things teens do are incredibly stupid, and partly because we see the mistakes they're making and want so much better for them. We know how to prevent this; we have the answers. But teens are like toddlers, and they have to find their own way sometimes. This means that I have to think about why the kids are doing things before I react about what it is they're doing. This means that I have to think before engage my mouth, whether asking a kid why they did something that stupid, or giving a hasty NO answer to something I'm simply not comfortable with. This means that I'm a better mom for my 16 years of experience.

Too bad I'm a slow learner. Things could have been much different a decade ago.



Flea said...

I love his tie. And isn't your last statement true for all parents? *sigh* Parenting is wasted on the young and inexperienced.

CanadianMama said...

I needed to read this!

Roger said...

You are not a bad mom, we all go through it. I mean think about it, child #1 drops pacifier - you sterilize it before ever thinking of putting it back in their mouth, child #2 - you wipe it off, child #3, etc... - let them deal with it. :)

Okay, that last part may be an extreme, but is it really?

*** See it fits much better here, and I swear that's where I put it initially. *** :)

Anonymous said...

Now THAT is an outfit!

I sometimes wonder how C.ooper would be different if he was Child #3(4) instead of #1. There is such a steep learning curve to being a parent, and I find myself regularly tormenting myself over the things that I should have done a little bit differently the first time around! That being said, they are all going to turn out okay one way or another . . . even if we all need a little therapy to get there!

imbeingheldhostage said...

Can I print this and hang it on my mirror??? I STILL don't have that "think before engaging" thing down and we're about to swing into the teens--multiple times in a short amount of years.
This photo of Micah is a classic!!

The Sports Mama said...

I've always wondered why our kids don't ever seem to realize that they are teaching us as much as we are teaching them?

Congratulate Becky....she's helped turn you into a spectacular mama! ;)