When Isaac was about a year old Charles and I sat down and had a pretty frank and open conversation about how we wanted to raise him. What did we want discipline to look like? What did we want to teach him? How were we going to handle situations? We talked about how we were raised as young kids and as we got older? What our parents did that we liked and didn’t like? We discussed parenting techniques we had learned from books we had read, how we wanted to apply them..etc…etc…etc. It was a long conversation, and one we have had many times over.
We talked about ALOT of desires and thoughts and wishes and hopes, and we came down to one really important thing. It is important for us that Isaac knows how powerful he is and that he can make great decisions. We don’t want to see him caught in that insecure trap of is this the right thing to do or not. We don’t want him to be dependent on other people to make his decisions for him. We want him to know how to seek council and then make his own choice. We don’t want to raise Isaac to just obey us, we want to raise him communicate with us.
When we talked about this Isaac was 1, it was so easy. He was 1. But now he is almost 5. He is figuring out how powerful he is. He is exercising his voice. He is figuring out who he is in charge of and how he wants to use that power. To be honest, I am taken aback. It’s hard to figure out how to parent him. When we talked about it, it seemed so easy. You give him choices and you make the problems his and your job is to just help him figure it out but you let him do it. And I suck at that. I am horrible at it. I just rescue him ALL the time. I foresee a problem and am already solving it, frustrating him and causing a rift between his heart and mine. I find myself at a loss MOST days. Yesterday I figured out why.
To raise him the way that I want, means I have to put my childhood skills away. What do you mean, you ask? I mean, I have to take the rules that I used in my childhood and I have to shelve them because they aren’t his rules. It isn’t his childhood and he isn’t me. I was a rule follower, still am. I found safety in the rules. If I was easy and followed the rules, I figured as a child I was lovable. It would be easy to love me because I did what was expected. Following the rules equaled love to me. They were my shelter.
As a parent I am using those same skills. You see Isaac isn’t free to not eat breakfast, he isn’t free to not make his bed, or brush his teeth, or some days make a mess. He isn’t free because when he doesn’t follow the rules, it removes my shelter. My safe haven of rules. And I take my childhood…my sanctuary and demand that he put it on. I command him to use my childhood skills, removing his right to find his own, and in the long run taking away the very thing that I want him to have. The belief and ability in himself and his decision making skills.
I have to become a different parent, I have to dive into why are rules my shelter and let it go. My son deserves the chance to make his own childhood. I deserve the chance to let that happen. So if breakfast time is hard for him, I need to let him be free to figure out how he is going to work that out. I can give him options in the morning and if he doesn’t choose those options, then he can have options at school….my chance to raise him in a way that empowers him, is to always have a choice for him. I have to believe in his decision making skills and let him use his brain. In order to do, I have to stop letting that little girl who found love in the rules, be his parent. I have to know a love outside of rules, I need to find love in freedom and messes.
I don’t think it will be easy. I think I am going to run out of options. I think I am going to have moments when I think I am raising a little brat to be honest. I will have moments when I just want him to do what I want him to do. I just want him to eat in a short period of time. Just get dressed….just get in the car. When those times come though, I want to remember that that isn’t me. That’s the little girl pulling out obedience. What I want to do instead, is be able to say to him, hey buddy your important in this relationship and what you do matters. Momma is in a hurry and I could use your help. Would you like to help me by moving a little faster or would you like us to just be late? And if he chooses for us to just be late, then late is what we are going to be and the rules person in me is going to have to die. And if I get in trouble for being late, or an appointment takes longer because we were five minutes late, then I have the opportunity to teach him. Hey buddy when you chose to move slowly so we were late this is what happened. Then he gets to decide what he is going to do with that. And because I am not angry or mad or frustrated….maybe he could talk to me about it and we can have communication, instead of obedience.
I know I have a long way to go because even as I write this, I rage against it. I think no he should respect me and just get in the car. My job is to teach him the rules. The rules are shelter. Then this tiny little voice down in my heart says….
but whose childhood is it anyway?
(Just in case any of you are wondering, one of my favorite parenting books is Loving your Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk. Love and Logic is also a good one. I love Danny’s piece that he brings, which really highlights keeping the connection with your kids and not being run over by them. He is huge on having two powerful people in relationship. I love how he does it! He is pretty much a super genius. )