You might learn

I recently saw a commercial of an Olympic snowboarder talking about how important being with her dad was when she was little. She highlighted the fact that she used to depend on her dad for a lot of things - safety, comfort, support, and guidance to name a few. As she grew up, she learned more and more that she didn't need him in he same capacity she used to and noted that she carries him with her wherever she goes  After seeing this, I thought more about my girls. Some of their current struggles have left me thinking about what my role is in their childhood - especially when they find themselves in difficult situations.  

I can tell them what to do. 
I can let my anxiety about their safety control my actions. 
I can sway them to make certain decisions. 
I can teach them to be extremely responsible. 
I can tell them what is right and wrong. 
I can reprimand them when they make a poor decision. 
I can avoid the hard conversations. 
I can scold them for yelling and screaming in the house. 
I can constantly remind them to clean and do their chores. 
I can watch them like a hawk to make sure they are making good decisions. 
I can tell them exactly how to handle situations. 
I can make sure they meet the milestones they're "supposed to"

But are control, responsibility, and behaving-well really what we want our parenting to be about?


I'm afraid that we've become a society that rushes our kids. We rush their childhood by chasing after arbitrary milestones instead of focusing on the bigger picture. In situations where my girls are struggling with complex emotions or tough decisions, I don't always have the patience to go at their pace; I want them to showcase maturity and be able to figure it out quickly. We want our kids to memorize the alphabet when they "should", sleep through the night when they "should", complete difficult math problems when they "should", and so many other developmental milestones. We live in a world that prides itself on full schedules, accomplishment, and speed, and I'm afraid it has infiltrated our parenting. As adults, many of us don't know how to sit with our emotions without numbing them (with busy schedules, TV, food, etc.) and therefore we have a hard time teaching our kids to sit with theirs. We are too stuck in our ways to learn new things and too busy to spend time really problem solving, which means our kids may struggle in these areas. I also know that the comparison game is very real when it comes to parenting. 

Wow, their kids are reading those books already? 
Her fine motor skills are way farther along than my child.
I wish my kids weren't as loud as theirs. 
His daughter isn't as emotional as mine. 
Their kids are in two sports! Maybe mine should be in more.

And the list goes on. 

What should matter to me is that my girls are empathetic and compassionate. 
That they are eager and willing to learn. 
That they can solve problems and know how to think through situations. 
That they're confident in themselves and love who they are. 
And that they know mistakes lead us toward growth and emotions shouldn't be stuffed down or ignored.

I don't want my children to miss out on learning from mistakes, or dreaming, or being silly or imaginative, or following their passions all because I have a box full of maturity, responsibility, performance, success, and development that I want them to fit into. 

And I don't want that box for myself either. 

When did productivity and performance become the standards for good parenting? (honestly, when did it become the standard for our lives in general?) 

I'm trying to notice the small moments with my kids and realize that they're just growing like me. When I model empathy, compassion, curiosity, adventure, inspiration, imagination, love, hard work, problem solving, and a slower pace, they will see it. 

"But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience.” ***

Let your kids be kids and take a few notes for yourself - you might learn something from them. You might learn to be more silly. You might learn that messes usually happen because you're having fun or being creative or enjoying company. You might learn to be more welcoming to people - kids tend to have fewer judgmental lenses than us. You might learn that you're actually doing a good job raising your kids - a lot can happen when we put our phones down and actually notice the small things.

You might discover that a slower pace and restful rhythms are much more sustainable than rushing and worrying. 

*** Excerpt from Shauna Niequist's book "Cold Tangerines"

1 comment

  • Marissa Bostic

    I love this…make me really want to slow down and enjoy!!!

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