Monday, April 29, 2013

pushed too hard




You go through the terrible twos, terrifying threes, frightening fours, fantastic fives and, while you are still exhaling, suddenly your kid is thirteen.

And now you’re no longer just wrangling and manipulating and rounding up, herding him into the clothes he needs to wear, spooning food into his mouth, and pointing him in the direction he needs to go. You are no longer a circus clown, but a counselor/mentor/life coach.

One day you start to get glimpses of who your kids are going to be when they grow up and you wonder how are they going to handle life. And you ask yourself, "What is my role in all of this?"

I am still the nurturer and supporter, yes, but at what point does all that nurture and support go beyond nurture and support and become coddling, enabling even? My child still needs me to praise and reassure him. But he also needs me to nudge and challenge him. What does that look like?

While I'm not looking to raise the next super athlete, polyglot, Pulitzer winner, (okay that last one would be cool) I would like to help my child realize his potential. So when I see what looks to me like laziness and underachievement, my brain struggles how to call it out without being counteractive or wrong. Or without being hurtful. 

Is it really my job to smooth over every hiccup and fear, and unfinished, or underfinished, homework assignment? Is it mean to call a spade a spade?
 
“Don't blame me when you don't get into the college of your choice, because you opted to be a slacker at age 13.”

And how do I distinguish the real concerns from the unnecessary variety? How much of my impatience is based on fear? How much of my judgment is based on my own personal regrets, my own inner self critic: 'You’re not good enough, you were afraid to try hard enough, you should be doing more...?'

How do I know if I am pushing too hard, or not hard enough? Are we all less tolerant of the weaknesses of our own offspring because we want, expect, dream of, more from them?
And are my dreams realistic? I have seen children pushed too hard by their parents, seen them crack and wilt under the relentless pressure. Yet if I don’t push them to push themselves and, honestly, I don’t often, will I regret it? And will my child resent me for it when she gets older and learns to appreciate the power of having someone believe in your enough to push?

I don’t have the answers to any of this. Do you? 

Because I’m sitting here wondering if I said the wrong things last night when I got cross, tired of the excuses, and brazenly told him to stop being lazy and use his brain. And he responded with rolling of the eyes and a stomp up the stairs, with hardly a “goodnight” as we all parted ways for bed.  





17 comments:

  1. Yes we are less tolerant....but not just because we have big dreams for them- but we know because we didn't always push ourselves. You bring up a great question, but we won't know the answer until they are grown if it was too much or not enough. We just have to do the best we can with what we have.

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    1. Erin, you always have such a great perspective. I love how you mother! Thank you for sharing...for helping me parent better...for encouraging me and lifting me up...XOXO

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  2. What a great post. Having a 12, 7, 4, and 2 year old has me in all different stages of this post! It's amazing the range of emotions you get with each and every one of them.

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    1. Indeed, you're similar to the states I am...13, 11, and nearly 2. I'm not sure which stage is harder/easier, because there are emotions wrapped up in nearly all of them.

      We naturally aspire on behalf of our children and expect them to live up to those aspirations, even though they're not THEIR aspirations to begin with. It's wrecking havoc on my heart, wondering if their paths in life will guide them to the dreams we dream for them. I know I can't control them, but it doesn't make sense to let go completely. Where is the happy medium?

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  3. Hugs mama! I'm not there yet because my oldest is only 4 but I too can see glimpses of my future. I had a talk with another mom recently who was telling me that her daughter's gymnastics class wants her to start doing 3, 3 hour classes a week. "They train Olympic level gymnasts," she said "So I guess I know what they are talking about."

    I had a momentary sense of panic, has my 4 year old missed out on her "window to greatness" because she is training at the local community center gymnastics class and not at the school that trains Olympians?

    We are tough on ourselves as parents but at the end of the day we have to realize, and our kids hopefully will see it too, that we only want what is best for them. It's hard to know how hard to push though.

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    1. You're so right, Crystal -- thank you for your encouragement. All in all, mistakes are inevitable, but the great thing about them is they have the ability to become life lessons. :-)

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  4. Mandi, your post certainly has given me much to reflect upon. Having raised (and come out the other side fairly intact :) two kids to adults, there really are no easy answers. We have to find that place inside of ourselves that allows for the right blend of nuture and push. At the end of the day, I truly believe the very best gift we can give our children is the gift of independence, confidence and realizing their own dreams - even if those dreams may ultimately look very different from what we may have imagined. Trust yourself, and you'll never go wrong. Hugs! Cindy

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    1. You're an inspiration, Cindy! As parents we always hope that our children will learn from our mistakes, but sometimes you have to make your own to truly "get it." I just hope that I've laid a loving, Christian foundation for them...for if they get lost, they may find their way back.

      XOXO

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  5. I'm not a mother, but I am a teacher and in a way I can relate to this. It is one of the most difficult things about being an influence in the life of a younger person...you feel such a responsibility and you're never sure if you're doing it right. Sorry I don't have any answers, but I will say this. I fully condone calling a spade a spade. My mom was wonderful, but I think I could've used a little more of that. It's why I run my classroom the way I do. Loved this post.

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  6. Wow. Great post. I think you continue to say those things. My mom said all kinds of things to me, and I ignored most or did the complete opposite - now, I understand what she was wanting. She wanted me to care. Be confident. Want more in life.... kids are tough! But so rewarding!

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    1. So true! I really should just be thankful that God say me fit to be their mother. As flawed and imperfect as I am, He entrusted me with them. No pressure or anything! ,)

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  7. I have a 16 year old and a 10 year old so I know exactly what you are going through. Teenagers are tough (particularly in the 13-15 stage) and the vast majority of them appear to be lazy underachievers. With hindsight I think that's part of their stage of development. It's been my experience that a lightbulb seems to go off some time around turning 16 (11th grade) and they start to worry a bit about their future and work harder. Trust yourself and believe that you are raising a good kid and that he's internalizing the lessons you teach him even if it doesn't seem apparent right now.

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    1. You just gave me huge hope, Lisa - thank you! I bet you're right. Time will tell.

      I have to apologize to them sometimes, for I know my message may come off cynical, but I hope they don't that regardless of my flaws, the one thing I did right is love them. Because I do. So much!

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  8. I'm in many stages of the child rearing as well, I have many ages in my home (2, 4, 13, almost 14, and 18) and I've spent many a night worrying, praying, sobbing, and angry. Questioning what I've said and done, examples I've provided and frustrations I've had. Kids aren't easy, but many times in the middle of my anger or doubts, one of my other kids (usually the 4 year old) will come up to me with kisses and hugs and proclaim I'm the best mom ever. I just relish those moments, because one day I'm sure he will be also go to bed mad at me like your son. We just do the best with what we have and try not to be too hard on them, one day they too will understand. :)

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    1. I could totally hug your neck right now -- thank you for the encouragement.

      Take away the people you love, and suddenly 'things' no longer matter. All the more reason to put them first. Love them while they are here. And I need to remember to do that and not worry so much about the future.

      XOXO

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    2. I totally meant to post this from my personal page name, HAHA. I was logged in and about to email you about cohosting when I commented, and I wasn't thinking. Anywho, that comment was from me! :)

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  9. I think its a fine line. I know for myself I will be a pusher, because I am the only one in my family with a college degree and I want that for my kids badly. So I won't let my child be lazy, but of course I only have a four year old...I haven't hit the teens yet, so I have no advice accept to maybe revert back to a reward system. I know kids shouldn't "always" be rewarded for behavior that is expected, but maybe a little motivation will kick in, when he currently lacks it. Good luck, parenthood is so trying sometimes! It sounds like you are doing a great job though! Hang in there!

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I am incredibly grateful for your comment! I will respond as soon as possible. XOXO, Mandi

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