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Parenting On the Edge of the Middle

My fellow Mom and I were standing there watching our children do laps at the Christmas train show. And I mused how it was hard to find that middle ground in between that place where everything your child does is all about you and that place where you’re completely disengaged. But to choose to stand on the ground in between. It’s hard to be there.

If I make everything they do about me, as in making me happy, making me look bad, etc., then how can I expect them to not think everything and everyone doesn’t revolve around them. After all, that’s what their mind reading mother showed them. How do we mothers disengage from our children’s choices and allow them to know they’re just not all that. Some of that but not all that.

If you read a little child psych 101 then you know that your child chooses much of what he/she does based on how you’ll respond. Your mirror lets them gauge their worthiness. And understanding their worthiness is tantamount to growing up. But if you make their life about you and not them, not only do they miss the opportunity to learn the lessons about who they are, but they will go on to have children and make their children’s lives about them. I can tell you, I refuse to do this to my kids. Industrial Overfocused is my coping strategy on Shalavee.com

Sitting on the library floor waiting for storytime to begin, I mentioned to the two other mothers of toddler girls next to me that I could see how women would want to escape from this task of the constant struggle to mirror correctly by going to a job. But unless you make geegobs of money, it just pays for the childcare. And that child still needs to work those issues out with you. They’re going to try to do it in the little amount of time they have with you but what if it doesn’t get worked out? Then the teen years will be worse. Their need to feel safe and separate has a time limit.

I want to live in the realm where my children’s every single action has little to do with the quality of my parenting. Where I’m not so tired that I overreact to every spill and act of rudeness my children inevitably will have. I want to feel a tolerant bubble around me and make intelligent choices for correcting my children and guiding them to make better decisions. But that all sounds really too good to be true. So I’ll just do my best, let go of the rest. And ask that they respect me always. The best I can do for now. Living on the edge of the middle.

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4 Responses to “Parenting On the Edge of the Middle”

  1. Ann Davis says:

    Shalagh,

    Finding that “middle ground” is a struggle and it doesn’t really go away as your child grows into adulthood. Both of my daughters have chosen different life styles from me and Jack. I have tried to measure what I perceive to be their level of life satisfaction with what I would be satisfied with. They are both in their 40s and I still struggle with it a bit. But, I am doing a little better.

    • Shalagh says:

      I think it’s allowing for them to fail that must be the hardest part Anne. The mirror for their esteem and tools to cope are the two gifts I give them. But knowing that sometimes we have to stand back and hurt for and with them. Maybe that’s a good thing too.

  2. Karen B says:

    The greatest compliment I ever got as a parent was from a single mom of a single child who said she admired how I allowed each of my children to be who they are even though they are very different from me and my husband and very different from each other. It is truly exhausting some days, and so easy to slip into trying to guide them to what they “should” do rather than letting them stumble and mess up, and some days I mess it up completely too. That darned imperfection! lol

    • Shalagh says:

      My son’s piano teacher left him off the recital roster and apologized profusely and said her “Human bits were peeking out”. I think that the children also need to see what it means to screw up and know that’s OK. Cause that perfectionism thing will kick your butt!!! Thank you for sharing that with me Karen as I’m sure you were thankful that she shared her wise perspective with you.
      Love,
      Shalagh

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