The Epic Growth of a Parent

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 3.29.20 PMMarch 8, 2018

Dear Families,

When Hunter turned 16, all the cliches of that milestone flooded my mind. I found myself transfixed. I found myself filled with anxiety.  I realized that essentially, my “parenting” days are done. Of course, Paul and I will continue to discipline poor choices and hold him accountable to the standards set in our home.  Of course, we will maintain an expectation of excellence. But, Hunter now finds himself one step closer to leaving home. Hunter now finds himself one step closer to complete independence. I find myself one step further away from influence.

The reality of his milestone set in when Hunter reminded us that we now have four drivers in our house. Think about it. Once our children can drive, they can leave. Moments like these create days of reflection for me. During my reflection, I came across an article that I saved a few months back. Even though it is an easy read, I found it to be thought-provoking. The article identifies 5 specific parenting behaviors that prevent success in children. It serves as the inspiration for this post.

This article provides excellent reflection opportunities. I choose to focus on the reflection opportunities because they offer opportunities for growth. Obviously, the opportunities for growth come from my shortcomings. As I studied the behaviors listed, I realized that I often exhibit the behaviors contained within this article. I decided to share a few examples with you. By sharing a few of my shortcomings, I hope to provide encouragement. If you exhibit any of these behaviors, be encouraged.

1) You are not alone.

2) We are human.

3) Kids are resilient, especially when we own our mistakes!

By sharing behaviors listed in the article, I hope to offer opportunities to reflect and grow as a parent. In my opinion, the greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of transparency. When we respond to growth opportunities in a positive way, we empower our children. First, we empower them to find the freedom to fail. They realize that failure is not fatal. Second, we empower them to grow. Failure, when given the opportunity, leads to growth.

  1. Following a Double Standard…Guilty!
    • At times, I definitely struggle to practice what I preach. I also fail to maintain consistency between Maddy and Hunter. If you have more than one child, you know what I mean. Each child comes with a unique personality. Each personality requires unique parenting. So, how do you balance parenting to match each child’s needs? You know that you can easily provide freedom to one child. The other child, however, needs firm boundaries to save them from themselves.  My friend Karen said it best. “What I do for one, I have to do for all.” So, Paul and I always consider the behavior of our child that struggles with boundaries before we make a decision. I’ve never known anyone that suffered from boundaries. I have, however, attended the funerals of far too many individuals who suffered from a lack of boundaries.
  2. Being too Protective…Guilty!
    • Maddy earned her driver’s permit during the winter of her freshman year. For the second time in my life, I found myself living in sheer terror of losing a child. My terror did not stem from the fact that she was driving. It stemmed from the fear of her need to drive on I-25. It also stemmed from her need to drive in the snow. We avoided both like the plague…for a year! WORST. DECISION. EVER. Maddy managed the boys’ varsity baseball team at Mountain Vista. When I say that our family eats, sleeps, and breathes baseball, I mean all of us. After the driver’s permit, young teens earn their driver’s license. If you have lived in Colorado for more than a year, you know that it snows in the springtime. If you know anything about high school sports, you know that baseball is played in the springtime. If you know anything about foreshadowing, you know where this is going. The first time Maddy drove to a baseball game alone, with her license, Vista played Cherry Creek, at Creek. She responsibly googled the directions on her phone. She followed the directions impeccably.  She made her way to the field, traveling on I-25. Upon arrival, it was determined that it was SNOWING too hard to play. Word to the wise, don’t bubble wrap your kids!
  3. Allowing Guilt to Take the Upper Hand…Guilty!
    • It might just be me. But we seem to dwell in the land of overabundance.  The entitlement that permeates the suburbs in which we live often leaves me speechless. If I’ve learned anything from my life, I’ve learned that things can change without warning. When Hunter was nearly a year old, we almost lost him. After a week in the ICU, he came home to us. A few weeks later, Paul landed his dream job as the executive chef at a premier restaurant. As a result of both circumstances, we determined I would stay home. I quit my job as an administrator in a private school to be with my children. Two months later, Paul broke his back at work. Within 6 months, we went from abundance to fear. We thought we would lose everything. I mean everything.  We learned quickly that material possessions mean little. Prior to that, both of my children matched head to toe in the latest Gymboree outfits. Good behavior was rewarded with “surprises” from Target. Epic. Parent. Fail. For a while, I struggled with guilt every time I had to say no. In the end, however, the collapse of our world was the best thing for our family. It empowered us. It gave us the freedom to learn the power of no. The older I get, the more I see the blessing of that time in our lives.
  4. Keeping Mum about Mistakes in your Past…Guilty, sometimes.
    • Fortunately, Paul and I willingly share our mistakes with Hunter and Maddy. We want to prevent pain and heartache in their lives if at all possible. Unfortunately, they suffer from the same illness we had at their age. They don’t think their parents know anything either…In fairness, they are great kids. I just wish they would listen to us ALL the TIME!
  5. Giving away Praise too Easily…Guilty!
    • I literally just had the opportunity exhibit this behavior. However, I restrained myself. I celebrate my small victory. Hunter just ascended the basement stairs and announced quite proudly, “Just doing laundry.” His tone and words clearly sought praise and recognition. I maintained self-control and refrained from extolling any praise. Go me! So, he did his laundry, good! It’s one of his chores. Failure to do laundry leads to lost friendships…16-year-old males STINK! Praise is reserved for times when he goes 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs in a game. Praise is reserved for times when he hits a walk-off or makes a play in centerfield that prevents a runner at third from tagging up to score. Praise is not given for simply doing a job that is expected of you. We can’t get trophies for everything…

Honored to Serve You All,

Janet Worley