Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Mommy Parable: Pushover Parenting
The kids and I went for sushi today, and we began to play a game walking out of the parking lot. I shoved Peanut a little love shove. She love patted me back. Pumpkin weighed in with a reverse love shove. We all giggled.
I stopped near our car and, in all my mommy confidence, taunted: "Push me over. See how strong your mom is. You can't even push me over."
"Oh yeah?" Peanut said. And she began to try. She backed up five feet, ran straight at me, and yelled, "HIIIIIII-YA" as she tried to knock me over.
It didn't work.
I, of course, reminded her of my bulging muscles. "See, I told you I'm strong. I CANNOT BE MOVED!" I teased (and flexed).
We all laughed hysterically.
She tried three more times before she succeeded at pushing me over. I offered a congratulatory high five. She does, after all, only weigh 44 lbs. And it did take persistence!
As I drove home I thought more about "Mommy Push-Over."
Any parent knows it takes a great deal of strength to stand our ground with our children. They continually push, and I don't think its very fair of us to be surprised when they do. When I was a kid I pushed. You probably did too. Why are we so surprised when our kids follow suit?
It's in their nature, of course, to believe they can push us over. They could pull a fast one on us, or sneak something by us. They could ram into us with words and arguments. They could posture one parent against another, and whine pleeeeeeeeease until we cave. And it's worked. They have, at times, succeeded.
But deep down children need to actually know that you are a strong mommy or daddy. That a little shove here and a little shove there will not bring you down. They need to see you resolute, confident in your muscles, and every so often they might need a reminder of your strength.
As with most things, there is a balance. Let them push you over and you have no authority to speak into their life, (plus your taking lightly your responsibility as parent). Dig your heels in too much and you risk injuring their fragile hearts and distancing yourself from their emotions. It's delicate.
For the first few years of parenting I believed it was my great challenge as a mother to not be moved at all, under any circumstances. To hold authority no matter what. Maybe I'm maturing (or my kids are aging) but there have been occasions recently where I've started to soften my stance, a little. Especially with my oldest son, who is going into the 4th grade, I want him to know he has a say in certain things, and I trust his judgement to a fair degree. My objective is to make every attempt that I can to understand what my children need and what they are saying. And sometimes that means my being flexible and softening my stance.
I close with wisdom from Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture, a book he wrote for his boys before he died of cancer: "Anybody out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let them do it. It will be OK."
Grace to you as you parent--it is THE HARDEST, MOST AWESOME privilege,