Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why are you so strict with her?

Tonight while Sweetie was tooling around the back of a meeting, gibbering on, toddling back and forth, banging her toys together and as I was chasing her around, redirecting her & trying to keep her volume down, another Mom came up to me and whispered "You are really strict with her. Why are you so strict?"*

After I got over the shock of having another Mom question my parenting (haha) and being offended by the word strict, I thought it over and here is my two-part, totally contradictory answer.

I am strict (have high expectations for my kids) because:
  • I have always struggled with feeling as if my child is misbehaving, it is a direct reflection on my parenting.  And in essence,  I want my kids to make me look good.  So sometimes I go a bit overboard in making sure they aren't bothering anyone or being too disruptive and generally "being good."  I honestly would love to get beyond this, to understand on an emotional level that while it is my job to shepherd them, they make their own decisions, both good and bad.  My self-image shouldn't have so much to do with what my kids are doing or not doing at any given moment.  
  • All kids need structure and need to understand where the boundaries are so that they can have joy and freedom where they are safe, respectful and respected.  That ALL is multiplied when you've got kids from the hard place who are still trying to figure out this world.  They need to know what's okay and not okay.  And the good parenting / bad parenting line is all in the details -- of the appropriateness of the boundaries and the way in which they are enforced.  I am not always successful, but it's my goal to set reasonable expectations based on where the child is at and guide them calmly with a balance of gentleness and firmness.  And I have seen that when the child knows they are deeply cherished, have reasonable but high expectations of them, understand the boundaries and the freedom they have within them- they flourish.
So for the good and the not so good I parent this way.

But, really, truly, honestly, we are all fumbling down this road of life with kids.  But if we are doing the best we can & learning as we go, we're fumbling in the right direction. 

So I fumble on.

*I just feel the need to point out that Sweetie is only 11 months old so "strict" in this context meant making sure she wasn't digging in people's purses, wandering too far away with her new walking skills or eating every random piece of randomness on the ground.  :)

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