So, here we are, almost in February and I’m still contemplating what I want to work on this year. Not that I’m keen on resolutions. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever kept a New Year’s resolution and yet, I can’t stop myself from making them.
I have a problem with someone telling me what to do or not to do, which is weird, I know, since I’m the one making the resolution. There is something about saying out loud, “I will not eat sugar,” that causes me to make a beeline for the candy drawer.
Finally, however, I think I’ve come up with a couple of things that I can get behind in 2017; two bad parenting behaviors that I can let go of this year and feel good about: not doing everything for my kids and not talking about them with other people.
Let’s start with the second one first.
I will not talk about my kids with other people.
You might think it’s odd that I have chosen not to talk about my kids with other people when I write a blog about my kids and share it with other people. Believe it or not, I write very little about what happens to my kids and when I do I tend to have their blessing. I’ve tried to make this blog about my bad behavior, because, well, I often suck as a parent and I want to be held accountable.
What I want to stop doing this year is sharing information about my kids that I know they won’t want me to share with anyone else but I do it anyway because I’m venting to my friends. Let’s face it, parenting is not easy and sometimes you need to talk about your failures or your kids’ bad behavior with someone else.
My advice? Choose your audience and your stories carefully.
How many of you have done this? Your kid is driving you bat-shit crazy and you run into a friend and proceed to offer too many details about your kid’s latest exploits thinking there is some sort of “mom code” that will prevent your friend from relaying the info to her kid who just happens to be your son’s or daughter’s good friend.
Next thing you know, your kid is pissed at you – as he or she should be – because the story you told has made it’s way back to your kid but with all sorts of embellishments.
It doesn’t matter if the story you told was totally benign or you thought it was just a funny story to tell your friend. It doesn’t matter if it was relayed exactly how you told it or whether the story made its way through a group with new and completely fabricated details (as these stories tend to do). Your kid feels betrayed and you feel like crap.
So, yes, I will be working on this behavior this year because last year I let my kid down and that really did suck.
I will not do everything for my kids this year
When my kids were little and I chose to stay at home with them I felt that it was my job to wait on them hand and foot and stifle their independence.
Oh, wait, that wasn’t the plan.
No, the plan was to stay at home to take care of them and be around to watch them grow. The problem with that plan was that I felt guilty about being a stay-at-home mom and I felt like the only job I had was to take care of the kids and the house. If someone else was doing those jobs what was I doing all day??
No one saddled me with this notion (except, maybe Hollywood and the media’s distorted images of women’s roles and my own upbringing, but I digress).
Every time I thought about passing on the laundry duty or forcing my kids to cook dinner I wondered what I was supposed to be doing in the void of activity. Eating bonbons? Watching TV with my feet up on the ottoman thumbing through magazines? Writing??
The problem, I realize now, was not with the job but with the job description that I had written.
Instead of thinking that my job as a mom was to cater to my boys’ every need, I should have recognized that my job was to help my kids become independent, capable adults who could handle their own cleaning/feeding/scheduling.
Nearly 21 years into this parenting gig and I finally figure it out.
Obviously, I didn’t start out wanting my kids to be needy and dependent and, for the most part, even with all my failings, they are pretty capable (if I’m not around, of course). But now it’s time to let go of the guilt and rewrite my role. I will call my new title: Director of Creating Independence. I’m sure my kids will call my new role: Tyrant.
What parenting behaviors do you hope to work on this year?