She used to treat us to McDonald’s every once in awhile, with money she earned selling Avon. We enjoyed sitting with her. My mom always beamed at us with love and pride.
I take my girls out for treats, too. I hope they look back someday (as I do) and remember these good times.
Mom used to visit me in the middle of the night with medicine and a hug when I was sick.
I do the same for my daughters.
Mom used to drive us to violin, cello, piano and Tae Kwon Do lessons.
I drive my daughters to violin lessons, rehearsals, auditions and concerts, too.
Mom was always quick with words of encouragement, compassion and unconditional love.
I try to do the same, but she was (and is) better at it, definitely.
My mother taught me how to be a good parent and a good person. She’s still teaching me this.
Every nurturing mother in the world is the reason we have the compassion, love and support that we pass on.
I had a breakthrough today. If you’re reading this and you’re a perfect parent, well, you won’t be impressed in the least. Maybe I’m a slow learner. But this is a true story.
I was walking today and listening Eckhart Tolle. I know some of you think it’s all self-help crap and I’m a lost soul…but I have become a better person for it. Anyway, in this particular recording, Tolled talked about the importance of of “space” and “non-reaction.”
The goal, he says, is to feel at peace. At all times.
Just then, my daughter texted me. “—— can drive me to you.”
“Great,” I respond.
“I need to go home and change and do my makeup and then I need to be back at school by 6:15,” she texts.
“Can —– drive you home?” My boss had a retirement party this afternoon. It’d be quite challenging to drive back and forth.
Tolle continues to talk about the importance of space and non-reaction. If you can, create space between yourself and the angry person.
She calls me. I answer. Good, texting is dumb, anyway.
She talks to me in an angry voice. I can hear a bunch of teenagers trying to talk to her. She gets angry at me because I can’t understand her – she’s talking to me, she’s talking to them…I’m confused.
I ask her (again) if —- can drive her home.
She responds with sarcasm and anger. She sighs heavily, as if it’s so hard to have me as a mom. She talks to me as if I’m stupid. Her words become staccato with anger. I. told. you.
I hang up.
She texts me with more anger. Her answers include expletives. How dare I hang up on her!
I text back with: “If you think you’re going to talk to me that way, you’re out of luck.”
I’m proud of my lack of emotion. I feel the anger, but I refuse to react. Eckhart has my back.
Tolle continues, “Someone may even yell at you and you want to yell back, but don’t.” It’s as if he’s walking with me!
So I don’t. I don’t react. I want to, believe me. I want to remind her whose the mom…but I’ve been down that road before and it never works.
It never pays to engage with her rage.
Long story short, she tried to involve me in an argument. She wanted to place blame. She wanted to excuse her horrible behavior and blame me. I stop her. I re-direct her to make a plan. We make the plan. We execute.
Later, she apologizes. She has not apologized in a very long time…months, even.
I see many painful moments in her future. She will have to learn the hard way, she always has. But that’s OK. I’ll be here.
Helicopter parent –
Constantly hovering over children while they study, work, and do sports, etc. has been shown to “increase anxiety, depression and can lead to academic difficulties” (Psychology Today).
Effective parenting, is, in fact, nurturing your child to become independent!
Psychology Today offers these guidelines (abbreviated):
-Listen to your child, rather than imposing your goals and wishes on him or her. Listening to your child encourages independent thought and critical thinking. It helps you avoid a common downfall of helicopter parents: imposing your values on your child.
-Don’t manage your child’s relationships or communications for him or her.
-Don’t try to help your child escape consequences for his or her actions, unless you believe those consequences are unfair or life-altering. It’s fine to hire your child a lawyer if he or she is in legal trouble, or to intervene with a bullying teacher. But don’t try to get your kid out of detention or berate another parent who talks to your child about problematic behavior.
-Don’t raise your child to expect treatment that is different from, or better than, the treatment other children receive. Your child shouldn’t expect to get something they don’t deserve or didn’t earn.
-Encourage your children to solve their own problems by asking them to contemplate potential solutions.
-Don’t do your child’s work for them, or keep track of deadlines for them. Even school-aged children can learn to remember test dates and classroom projects. By middle school, your child should be managing their schoolwork largely on their own, with only as-needed help.
-Support your child’s teacher, and encourage your child to respect the teacher’s opinions.
-Allow your child to face natural consequences for their actions. Don’t allow a child to stay home sick just because she or he didn’t timely complete a school project.
*Eric Hoffer was a great American thinker and he never actually said anything about helicoptering parenting. It just rhymes nicely.
No longer mine – can’t carry you anymore,
you’ll stumble, fall and eventually – soar,
As your path widens and grows long,
I realize how I was so very wrong
You take your steps while I watch
Your self-determination can be dreadful
yet entirely convincing
It’s fast becoming apparent
that your flubs and whims aren’t errant
You don’t own reasons for my heart breakin’
for I never “owned” you, in that, I was mistaken
One day, a mother took her four year old and five year old daughters to their Montessori preschool. She apologized to the teacher for being late, and explained that it took some time to get her kids dressed.
“Why don’t you let them dress themselves?” The teacher asked.
“They’d look like disasters! Nothing would match.”
The mother thought about it. She decided to let them dress themselves. Thegirls wore odd things: sweaters with light pants, short-sleeved shirts with boots…but eventually, each daughter forged her own style. The girls laughed loudly, and they walked proudly. It was clear that each girl was her own person.
It was challenging for the mom. She wanted to help them so many times. “Relax.They’re doing great!” The father said.
As the girls grew, their mother made mistakes. She got some things right, but she learned that “letting go” was her biggest challenge. She noticed that they learned lessons most effectively through mistakes: forgetting an instrument at home and having points deducted at school taught them to plan the night before. When they didn’t eat well, they felt sick and chose to eat better next time.
Everyone – the father, the mother and the kids – are still learning. And it’s all good.
You’re a parent and you want to do
a good an excellent job. Afterall, what could be more important? I’ve learned (the hard way), that to be a good parent, you have to both DO and BE.
DO – remind your kids to brush their teeth, make their beds, do their homework, etc.
BE – sit with them and just listen. 100% listening, with your eyes and ears and your full attention. Laugh with them. Ask questions and know them as people. They are people, separate from you.
You have a job: protect, nurture, teach.
But then, let them go and love them for who they are.