Parenting the Child You Have
I would like to take a moment to remember James Lehman who recently died from a long illness. For the past couple of years I have been receiving his newsletter Empowering Parents. You see I couldn't afford his really expensive parenting program DVDs, But I figured his newsletter was the next best thing. I was right. He said that you should parent the child you have and not the child you wish you had. This brings me to an example I just HAD to blog about as it is a prime example of parenting while absolutely blind to the defects of your child.
My mother was having a conversation with an old friend the other day who happens to hate her daughter's ex-boyfriend to the point of ridiculousness. My mother and I happen to know said ex-boyfriend very well. Anyway, my mother's friend asked if we had heard from him. My mother replied that she hadn't. Here's where it gets interesting. She told my mom that she was "worried" because she had been smelling pot around the house and thought perhaps that the ex-boyfriend had passed on and was haunting her house.
Just to be clear: Woman smells pot. Woman's mind does NOT go where mine went right away when I heard that part of the story *coughdaughtercough*. It has to be a pot smoking ghost of an ex-boyfriend! This is extreme parent denial, and maybe slightly insane.
Now I know a lot about this person's daughter. I know I know more than she does. Her daughter is far from a saint. If I weren't loyal with secrets the things I could tell her..... And since the daughter is an adult I am under no obligation as a concerned adult to tell those secrets.
My point is, why is this woman unwilling to admit to the defects of her own child? It's because she was parenting the child she wished she had. She allowed the wool to be pulled over her eyes over and over again, because she was unwilling to cope with having a child that made bad, even dangerous choices as a teenager. She was unwilling to admit that she had done anything wrong or had failed at anything or just didn't know how to deal with a situation as a parent. I can't even begin to say how dangerous I think this is.
How many of you out there know parents that will rush to their own child's defense even when they are in the wrong? A parent that refuses to accept that a bad situation could have arisen even partly from their child's behaviors or choices?
I guess this is so disturbing to me because I have a mom that refused to give me an out when I did something wrong. She did not make excuses for me or my brothers. Granted she didn't always know how to handle a situation, and she didn't always handle things the right way. That's to be said for every parent under the sun. I CAN say that she always called us on our BS, and never defended wrong decisions we made. So at the end of the day when we mess up we can't blame her for not teaching us right from wrong.
What I intent to do as a parent is try my hardest. I intend to always call my children out on their BS. I intends to defend my kids when they need it and discipline my kids when they are in the wrong. I intend to keep my blinders off so I can truly see my kids for who they really are. That way I can encourage them to improve where I see needs improvement. If any of my children are doing something that is selfish, greedy, judgemental, etc. I reserve the right to point those actions out as wrong and to try and help them learn how to handle the situations that life throws at them differently. That is my job.
I would also encourage everyone who is a parent to Google Empowering Parents and get the newsletter. It has helped me a lot.