It is hard to believe that September is here again. For most communities, September brings with it not only a chill in the air, but also a new school year, and a fresh start.
As school gets back into gear, our children have no choice but to learn to adapt to new teachers, new classmates and to a new work load. For some children, these times of transition are hard. As a parent, I have always reassured my children that change is good and healthy and that we are better off if we are able to learn to adapt. We cannot prevent it. We cannot control it. So we might as well accept it, try to learn from it, and learn how to cope and derive new positive experiences from it.
Clearly, this is easier said than done, not just for our children but for parents as well. So what happens to our parenting style, as our children get older? As our children grow and mature, it’s a lot harder to change the ways in which we manage them. Even though we know in theory change is good, it is more difficult to implement.
On the one hand, I have always told my children that I am there for them, no matter what. I will always be a listening ear, and they can always call on me if they are sad or in trouble or need to vent.
But on the other hand, do I really practice what I preach?
As my children grow, I find that I am telling them, more and more, to work issues out on their own. If they are fighting, I tell them to work it out. Figure out a compromise. Talk to each other. And to try to leave me out of it…. at least until they have attempted to resolve things between them. I encourage my children to talk to their teacher if they feel hard-done by, or call a friend if they are angry or sad or hurt. The older ‘me’ would have been right in there…jumping to the their side, emailing the teacher, mediating with classmates, playing devils advocate with my children. The newer ‘me’ is doing a lot less of that – I am not necessarily getting involved, or jumping into the mix. My children need to learn to resolve their own problems with each other, with their peers, and with those in positions of authority.
The question remains, why not? Am I staying out of it for all the right reasons? Am I really trying to encourage independence? Or am I tired of listening to all of the whining and complaining and tattling? The truth is probably a little bit of both. Guilty as charged. I would like to think that where it really counts, I am there for my children, and that I do not throw them to the wolves, so to speak. But when I truly feel that they are capable of dealing with issues on their own, I give them the nudge to do so.
It is obvious that I do not wish to give my children mixed messages. I want them to know that I will always have their back. And if at times they do not feel supported, I hope in hindsight they are able to realize that by not getting involved in all the drama, I have indeed been there for them. And doing right by them. And I stay out of things to help them, and to demonstrate to them that I have faith in their abilities to ‘figure it out’.
My ultimate goal is for them to be able to learn and grow and mature, and feel successful because of decisions that they choose to make. Not because of decisions that I make on their behalf.
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