Thursday, January 3, 2013


BlogHer's Facebook post sent me to an article on parenting adult children. My friends are asking for support as they say NO to their tweens and teens. A reporter asked me if I blamed the shooter's parents.  For a woman with an empty nest I've been thinking a lot about raising kids lately.  It's not an easy topic.

If I had it to do over again..... give me a minute while I bask in the joy of the chance to right the wrongs and correct the missteps.... if I could try again I'd do less for them.  I'd leave more bumps in the road and not try to solve their problems to spare them pain.  That's not a terrible regret, but it's there.

We each have our own do-over lists, I'm sure, whether we concentrate on  the parenting we received or the parenting we doled out... or both.  I brought my  "I will never do THAT when I'm a mom" list to my child rearing and laughed when I heard G'ma coming out of my mouth.  I can say that I was aware when I was aping inappropriate behaviors and that I tried to stop myself before I was too far gone.

In the year I was examining the concept of patience as a New Year's Resolution; I learned to be patient with myself, too. I'd never done this before; I couldn't be perfect right away. Everything was so new, and kept on getting newer.  The problems didn't go away as much as they morphed into a new incarnation of the same old thing.

The decisions come upon you when you are least prepared.  Expect the unexpected and you'll be on the right track, trusting your instincts when all else fails can help you set your sails in the right direction, but seeking the perfect solution will get you nowhere, fast. Those are the lessons I'd share, if anyone asked.

I remember sitting on Little Cuter's bed, she pouring her heart out, I wondering what I could say that would be useful/helpful/meaningful.  I could comfort; she was always willing to receive a back rub to help her relax. I could listen; when she was on a roll there was no stopping her.  I was stymied at creating a teachable moment, at turning a trauma into a triumph of the will, at making lemonade out of this particular lemon.

She was in first grade.

I became increasingly incompetent as the years went on, or so I felt.  As they share their childhood memories with me, I become aware of the phrases that stuck, of the reactions that had an impact.  Big Cuter, sharing his thoughts on privacy and the interwebs, reminded his father that "Mom once said I should never do anything I didn't want printed on the front page of the New York Times.  I remembered that, so I live my life on-line and I don't worry."  Mom got that line from her father; it was a good thing he was lurking in my head when I shared that bit of wisdom with my son.  I didn't think it up myself; I'm not that good.

Most of my best lines have come from others.  Seret and TBG come at acceptance from the same place:
She: It is what it is. Smile and move on
He:  Once you've said yes, smile and move on.
I second guess everything.  Having these two in my life steers me closer to moving forward than anything else I've encountered, and both phrases rattled around in my head as I moved through parenting the Cuters.  Knowing that I am not omnipotent, looking forward instead of reliving the moment - those were lessons I hope made their way from my brain to my childrens' hearts.

I don't suppose that I'll know what they really heard until I watch them parent their own kids.  For now, I'm offering free advice to my friends who are in the throes of it, and biding my time.  I'm feeling free to judge those I feel are lacking and those who are surpassing expectations.  I'm sharing the love and getting lots back in return.

I'm not sure all my answers are the right ones, but they fit comfortably within my soul.



  1. I'm having one of those moments when I feel like a failure as a parent. I'm having issues with my three year-old's day care. From the director, "He's lacking empathy and lashes out at others". Empathy is learned and sometimes a three year-old hasn't grasped that yet. We are working on it, but to be treated like my child is some deranged mad man, really upsets me.

    I do tell my children to treat others how they want to be treated. I try to show empathy in everything I do. I am kind to others and to my family and yet, I'm still not getting through to him. And to have the director tell me that there is something wrong with my child because of it, is quite upsetting.

    I'm feeling like a complete failure as a mother and I don't know what to do about it. Your post couldn't have been timed better. I'm just not certain what I'm doing wrong. :(

    Thanks for listening.

    Megan xxx

  2. Yes, you are a complete failure as a mother. It's obvious. NOT!! Perhaps there is something askew with your kid, but empathy is not usually exhibited until age 8-10. Sympathy, kindness, but not empathy. They still haven't separated from you, let alone found themselves, let alone be capable of feeling for others.


  3. Thanks AB. I was going to come back and delete my post because I felt like I was whining. But you are right. It is sympathy and not empathy. How can a three year old feel empathy? Sympathetic, yes, but empathy, no. I always think of empathy as a step beyond sympathy and feeling/relating to others. I was just looking up the differences and they share traits, but they also are different on an emotional level. Sympathy essentially implies a feeling of recognition of another's suffering while empathy is actually sharing another's suffering, if only briefly or having an understanding because one has walked in that other person's shoes.

    At three, there is no way for him to be empathetic, but I can keep trying to show him kindness and love towards others. I think what the director is trying to say is that he doesn't understand that he's hurting other kids or being naughty by not listening. What's annoying about the place is even if he's naughty, I've asked them to discipline him and they will not. They say they are not allowed. They are only allowed to "redirect". It's no wonder he keeps doing what he's doing. If he's naughty at home, there are consequences. At school, there are none. I don't know what she expects me to do. And I just keep getting the comment that there is something wrong with him. All of my friends that know him, say he's just being a boy. He can be rough and tumble, but also very, very loving. He loves to snuggle. At school, he pushes and shoves other kids, but they just let him get away with it. And I'm somehow the bad mom. It's like she expects him to just be perfect and not be a three year old. My one friend who has three boys and one girl, says it has been her experience that some day cares are trying to make boys act like girls--in that they want them to be passive, play in a corner and be quiet. My little man is nothing like this. I can say that because I have two girls and he's completely different. A boy through and through. I'm not excusing him being aggressive, but I feel like she's saying it's all my fault. I'm one of the most non-aggresive people one could meet. We are careful about letting our kids watch overly aggressive movies or play Wii games that have a lot of aggressive action.

    Anyway, hubby keeps telling me to relax about it. We are looking at other schools tomorrow. Cross your fingers everything goes well. I'm even taking him to the doctor to make sure there isn't anything physically wrong with him.

    Thanks for the encouragement too.

    Megan xxx

  4. I needed this today, well, this week. Thank you!


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