I have a deep-rooted, unshakable fear in regards to parenting.
Well, actually, I have more than one, but the one that surfaces most often is that my parenting isn't...enough.
not good enough
not consistent enough
not effective enough
not adaptable enough
and so on and so on.
I spend enough time over-analyzing this that I think you could safely say I'm borderline obsessed.
Robert and I have very different parenting styles. We had lots of talks about what we would do when we had kids before we had kids.
My, my, how things have changed. Because with kids, it is not always that simple. And then there's the matter of personal baggage. I have it, Robert has it, I think most people have it. And isn't it awful how that type of thing pops up when you least expect it and often don't see it until you say or do something and you think - UH OH.
I admit it freely, I watch other moms (and dads) with their kids to see how they parent. Along the way different parenting styles have (and I'm sure will continue to) influence how I parent at times. I prefer to think of this as my being adaptable. More often than not, this is for the better. I know people that think I'm too strict, I know people that think I'm not strict enough, I know people that think I'm a great parent, and people that think I'm a lousy parent. They are probably all a little right. I make a lot of mistakes and I am so very flawed.
Recently a comment was made about my kids that cut me to the core. My first reaction was to be indignant as in "Oh no they didn't!" Then my feelings were really hurt - mostly because the people making the comment haven't really spent a lot of time around my kids to get to know them. And I felt these people would have been ones to love and accept my kids no matter what. Obviously, I was mistaken.
However, everyone is entitled to their opinion and to their feelings. And truthfully, I can almost see their point. Well, okay, I've at least tried really hard to see their point.
While I think my kids are flat out amazing (and they are), they are sometimes like puppies greeting you after a long absence. They are loud, they get a little frenzied, like to jump around, and then they will settle down. Do Robert and I remind them to settle down before they are probably ready? Yes sir. Does it always work? Nope.
But I love that my kids are happy to meet new people and to greet people they haven't seen in a while with open arms. I'm thrilled that they view new social experiences as something positive rather than being scared and hesitant. Neither Robert nor I are like that naturally. I force myself into it a lot because I feel like I'm supposed to be outgoing, but it's hard and exhausting. However, once I get to know you, I am outgoing. I don't really understand it, but I've accepted it.
Since we've moved, I have had both the kids' teachers, their new principal and office staff, our neighbors, the staff at the Y, numerous people at church, and a handful of strangers compliment my kids on their manners and behavior.
That right there answers my question. Am I - are we - doing enough.
Yes. Yes we are. But we are never going to stop trying to be better parents, either.
I'm not going to be the mom that hovers over my kids about every little thing. It's too exhausting and with my two, it would be counter productive. I'm not going to fling them out into the world unprepared for what they'll find. I'm not going to lie to them to save their feelings, but I'm not going to purposefully hurt their feelings if I can help it. I'm not going to constantly farm them off to other people or trot them out like show ponies. I am not going to expect perfection or ever make them feel like they aren't enough for me.
I am going to try and lead by example which is so much harder than it sounds. I am going to be their biggest defender and strongest supporter. I am going to listen to them no matter what they do or don't want to talk about. I am going to treat them with respect. I am going to love them, whole-heartedly every day of my life. I will respect their opinions and decisions even if I don't agree with them, because let's face it - we have all learned something really important the hard way.
So if I don't parent like you and you want to judge me for it, I'm okay with that. I can even understand it. We are all only human, after all. But I say this with complete and utter conviction - you decide you don't like/approve of/or want to get to know my kids? Your loss, friend.