Being a parent is overwhelming in mid-December, when everybody’s activities and pressures are multiplying. During the holidays, our expectation of family life is heightened along with our kids’ sense of entitlement and their frustrations with school. Arguments are common this time of year. Perhaps a few lumps of coal belong in some stockings. It’s a time of year when we doubt ourselves as parents.
The journey of parenting is far too long and dangerous to warrant any amount of comfort. Deep down we know that any number of things can get sideways in a hurry, and far too many of those things are beyond our control.
So, how do we know if we are on the right path? How do we know if we are making any progress?
Salesmen can gauge success with sales figures, bar graphs, and commissions. Coaches can measure success with wins, losses, statistics, and championships. But parents labor daily without any quantifiers of success.
Some might say that a good apple falls from a good tree, but it’s not as simple as looking at the immediate results of children. After all, we all know a few stable, loving parents who use good parenting techniques but have a child who doesn’t seem to be turning out so well. Conversely, we all know a few unstable families, and yet some of their kids seem to be flourishing. Some kids rebel, no matter what their parents do, while other kids succeed, in spite of all sorts of family dysfunction. In addition, many kids simply take more time to mature than others, in spite of all the efforts of their parents.
We cannot use the current status of a child to accurately measure the success of a parent. It’s not fair to the child or to the parent. As a middle school teacher, I have learned that you cannot judge a person on their 7th grade year. Well, pick any year, for that matter. It’s not fair to judge anyone on a short era in their history. Kids should all come with visible birthmarks that read: “Work in Progress.”
In addition, there is no other measure that satisfies the question: “Am I actually parenting really well?” Read the rest of this entry »