If you miss this as a parent, you will discover a disconnectedness in the parenting journey. And kids who may not wanna “hang” with you as adults.I
When you are knee-deep in all the stuff of kids, it’s tough to get the larger picture.
But there’s much value in doing so.
Why is this true? It’s because parenting is probably the most “daily” activity you will ever do, at least for the first 18 years of your child’s life, and longer if you have multiples spread out over the years.
Because this parenting thing is so daily, it also can seem so ordinary, can’t it? I mean, humans have been doing this work over the millenia. And animals — that’s what they do, too. What is so new about it, so different, so hard?
Finding the miracle
The simple principle of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary applies here. The miracle of life itself is so extraordinary — and yet, so common — we almost forget what a miracle it is!
So, too, this parenting thing. Everybody does it, yes. Or, at least many.
And everybody has had it “done” to them — with mixed success, of course.
Even those raised as orphans, or as foster children, or on the streets, have had some form of parenting “done” to them by somebody. And, no question, it shapes who we are, for better or for worse (often some of both).
If you are a parent, no matter what the stage, you have a golden opportunity to participate in the extraordinary: shaping another’s life, and that for good, wholesome and positive outcomes.
When parenting adult children…
Now, you may be a parent of an adult child. In fact, your child (or children) may already be parenting their own. You may think you have no opportunity for influence at this stage. That simply is not true!
If you’re at this stage in your life journey, then your influence now will likely be predicated on the past. When you examine the past, and especially when you consider your current relationship(s) with your child(ren), do you, on the whole, see them as healthy, as positive?
If so, you can make them even better.
If not, there will likely be some healing needed. But, you are in the position, if you choose to step up, to improve those relationships from today. That would be the subject of a separate article. But I truly believe, if you have a mindset for change — and this is key — you can make it happen, or at least give it your very best shot.
Remember, too, you may be a better grandparent than you were a parent. Don’t lament it. Rather, embrace the opportunity for the do-over.
Kids still under your roof?
Perhaps your kids are still living at home (and they may be young adults, I get that). If so, you have considerably more contact with them and can take steps to improve your interactions with them.
Even so, if they are older teens or young adults, you may have limited input. But you can be a loving presence in their lives, one that doesn’t hover but supports (as you are able, and as is warranted) and offers a safe harbor from the rough winds outside.
For younger teens, my husband, a veteran high school teacher, has recently published a book you would do well to pick up and read. It’s called Parenting from the Periphery, and it offers a sound perspective and approach to dealing with this often challenging time period in a child’s life.
Parenting during the first 10-ish years
If your kids are 11 and under, of course the way you guide and love will vary. But up till this point, most children are open to their parent’s involvement in their life. In fact, they’re yearning for it.
For older kids on this spectrum, if they have consistently received your love and attention, they will thrive the more you give them. A foundation has been laid, and this offers so much in terms of launching them into the next phase as well.
If, however, there have been continual instances where your child(ren) has been belittled or made to feel inconsequential or forgotten by you, you can expect your child(ren) will struggle when you suddenly show them new interest. That’s okay. Deep down, they still want it. Take it slow, be understanding, and be open with them about your desire to right the wrongs.
And, with the littlest in this group, there is so much daily. That’s true. Life keeps you physically busy all the time. Physical exhaustion (and often lack of metal stimulus) can characterize this season. But you can beat it.
Capturing that ONE thing and making it work for you
Because that ONE thing — stepping back, gaining perspective on a regular (monthly, quarterly, twice annually) basis — is the key to parenting well, at any stage.
You may be wondering, “Where can I possibly find time to think more deeply? I’m just trying to get by!” This would be even more amplified if you are a single mom or dad.
Yet, if you want something enough, you can make that time. You can get help — whether paid help or the help of a friend or other family member, maybe even an exchange of children — to carve out time for deeper thinking. You can do it. You just have to want it enough.
When you do actually secure that few hours of alone time — outside caring for young kids and/or working outside the home — make it count! Get outside your usual environment. And immediately work to disconnect from it…in order to reconnect to yourself (first) and then to your situation (second).
The caveat + key motivator
Finally, let me add on this one cautionary word. Sometimes we are so busy in the day-to-day we forget the purpose — the WHY — of what we’re doing.
We want to “be in the moment” — and I highly recommend that. But there is also great value in stepping out of the daily to look at your life from a bird’s-eye view. To gain perspective. To get the 360° perspective on your life.
Doing this will make your parenting experience — wherever you are in it — much more beneficial, fulfilling and worthwhile, to all involved.
Don’t wait. Get it on your calendar today!