Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hover or Ignore?

There seems to be two ways to parent these days:

Hover.   This involves making sure you are within a foot of your child at all times.   You constantly guide, correct, discipline, and praise.    You show your child how every toy is supposed to work.   You don't get a babysitter occasionally (admit it....or ever).   Your child has an invisible umbilical cord from him/her to you.   You are set on making sure your one year old knows all her shapes, letters, and colors by age two, so you bust out flashcards whenever possible.    You do loads of baby signing.   You make sure to rotate your ITunes music so your child can hear the various classical artists as well as songs in other languages. 

Ignore.   This involves avoiding eye contact and interaction with your children as much as possible.   While your kids are at the park, you are lounging on a bench with your cell phone in hand, texting other moms.     If your kid eats one too many cookies or watches too much TV, let it be...every day.   Generally, kids are more of an annoyance than a blessing.     Playdates are the best because you and other like-minded parents can ignore your kids together.

Now, before you write me a slew of nasty comments ;)  ...

It's SO hard to strike a balance between what Mommy needs (time to chill, de-stress, rest) and what the child needs (which is ever-evolving), what Mommy wants for the child and what the child wants from the Mommy.

Hover-parenting is exhausting.    I mean, your back has GOT to hurt from standing over your child morning, noon, and night.   But ignore-parenting is equally exhausting, because you have zero energy for life.

I end my book with a story about one of "those days."  You know, when the kids are driving you nuts and you are exhausted and your have not an ounce of motivation to conquer your to-do list.     Miss E approached me, begging to go outside, but it was raining.   I told her, "We can't go outside; it's raining."  Her response was to get out our raincoats, boots, and umbrellas.   (Duh!  What is rain-gear for if not to use it IN THE RAIN).

So we did.    I didn't really want to, but I did.

It turned out to be a glorious time!    (Read the book; I draw an analogy between that day and adoptive parenting).

As adults, we put ridiculous limits on possibilities.    We make plenty of excuses and convince ourselves that those excuses are legit and perfectly practical.    We restrict, put up walls, and join ranks with others who do the same.

Hover-parenting and Ignore-parenting aren't all that different.    Both greatly limit potential in ourselves and our children.

I don't often sit down and reflect on my parenting (I have three "babies," so I don't have a lot of time for that....), but what I do hope for, overall, is that my parenting is balanced.

Lots of free time allows kids the opportunity to get creative.  If I'm always talking, always responding, always disciplining, and always praising, my kids won't learn to be self-sufficient or creative.     But if I spend more eye-contact time with my phone than with my children, what am I teaching them?   To take their concerns, their accomplishments, their questions elsewhere?   

Where do you stand on parenting?    What are your greatest faults?  Greatest accomplishments?  What changes are you making for the benefit of you and your children?

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