ACCEPTING YOUR CHILD AS THEY JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
The first in a series of blogs about the importance of accepting our children for who they are.
When my daughter was born, she shattered the myths that I had held dear prior to pregnancy. I dreamed of perfect breast feeding, idyllic middle of the night feedings, cuddling and gazing into each other’s eyes with a love born of her mere existence.
Last night at around 9:30 p.m. my nineteen year old son, who is a new and enthusiastic runner, decided to go out to Central Park for a run. My fingers knitted together and my brow was close behind.
“Running? Now? It’s 9:30.” I said.
My son looked at me with a gently benevolent and only slightly patronizing expression, “Mom, I’m six feet tall, it’ll be fine.”
I’m not complaining. Let me say that right up front. It’s just that I didn’t expect to go from an empty nest to having not one but two college students living with us this summer. I knew that my son would be coming home, of course, and was rejoicing in that news. The unexpected part occurred when one of his best friends from high school asked if she could live with us this summer. (And no, they’re not dating. They really are just friends. No, I don’t have my head in the sand. And no, I’m not giving you a “wink, wink, nod, nod” as I write this.
Andrea, the mother of three year old Max, was stressed when she called me. “He’s driving me crazy,” she said, “he insists that I drop everything to look something up about the Tigris River and when I tell him that he has to wait he has the most explosive temper tantrum you’ve ever seen. Then, when I put him in a time out, just to calm him down, he writes me a note of apology, so that was sweet, but I just can’t take the irrational behavior!”
In a recent conversation with an old friend that I haven’t spoken to in years, she alluded to my “recent” blog, “The Empty Nest,” saying “How is it having your son away in college?” It shook me up to realize that a year-and-change has gone by since I wrote that blog and that for people reading it for the first time, it’s as if time stood still.
It’s summer. My time is a little less restricted than it usually is because a lot of my clients are away on vacation with their children. I’m spending my free office hours throwing away papers that have accumulated during the past nine or ten months. Earlier in the year, making a decision about throwing these papers away seemed too Herculean a task. Now, they’re just papers and I wonder why I was keeping them and why it was so hard to think about throwing them away earlier. I do this every year though. It’s so predictable that now I laugh at the way I repeat these annual actions.
Ok, in my defense I was asleep. Or at least I had been just moments before when I was awakened by my 17 year old son who said (in a neutral tone of voice), “Hey Mom. I got accepted into the Film department at UT.”
Since many people seem to be posting and re-posting the article by Amy Chua (Wall Street Journal, 1/8/2011) about how Chinese mothers are superior to Western mothers and appear to appreciate her point of view, I decided to share my thoughts on her article. As a well-known parenting expert who has not only raised two successful, happy children of my own, I have also extensively and intensively studied and taught parenting strategies for the past 21 years.
I just finished reading the most marvelous coloring book! I know, I know, reading? A coloring book? How does that happen?
It happens when the words are as charming, brave, bold, humorous and touching as the pictures. It happens when the coloring book makes you not only want to go out and buy yourself a shiny new box of colored pencils to color again, but also when you want to quote the words you read to all your friends.