Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Gentle Art of Kamikaze Parenting – Pt. 2

Son #2 - Courtesy The Learning Table
If you came expecting perfection and a well crafted bullet list, you can go back home. I'm not all that, and I don't have my act together. Oh, let me tell you – I could do my research across the wide expanse of the internet and craft a 'how to' bullet list that would make the pride of Oprah, Dr. Phil, proud.

Given the level of desperation parenting I see practiced all around me, that post might go viral. But, I'd be a mask-wearing liar. I swore that off a while ago, remember? So, before you read another word, let me assure you, I am in the trenches with you and not your paragon of expert parenting virtue.

If you didn't come expecting me to be 'all that', you can stay. But, you are probably not going to like what I've got to say. I sure don't. I've been swallowing a bitter pill for most of 10 days now, and it is still lodged in my throat. And my brain and heart.

Son #1 - Happy go Lucky as usual
Before I go on, let me tell you that I proceed here with MUCH caution. Two families that are exceedingly close to me have done EVERYTHING right as parents but now have children who are adrift in this fraidy cat world. So far, neither is in legal trouble. The older one, now in his early 20's, seems to be finding his way out of chaos and getting a handle on things. The younger one, in his mid-teens, has us all scared to death. We pray for that kid 3 times a day sometimes and hold our breath for the next update.

Maybe 1 day I can tell you their stories. For tonight, I will just use them as my disclaimer. In watching them devote themselves to Godly and practical parenting with a perseverance and grit that is indescribable, I have seen that you can do everything right and still have kids who falter. And, I mean...these folks did EVERYTHING right.

So, I have no 'pride of parenting' because I know that kids can falter at any time and place, when you least expect it and think you least deserve it, for no apparent reason that you can uncover. Between walking with these friends and my own sense of parenting in the trenches, I cannot craft a '10 Easy Steps', feel good, 700 word blog post to help you refine your parenting.

Parenting is just plain hard. No, it is relentless in its demands, and the demands do not care how tired you are or how sick you are or how distracted you let yourself become. That's the good news. See...I told you you probably wanted to go somewhere else today!

Sometimes, I tune in to Dr. Phil as an exercise in social anthropology. Lately, I've scanned the parenting related shows and noted a recurring thought that resonated with me. He often tells overwhelmed parents who have caved to their fractious kids something like this:

“You don't put an end to this nonsense because it makes YOU feel good not to. If you don't step up, you avoid the nasty unpleasantness involved in the confrontation you know is coming. It makes YOU feel better to cater to their unreasonable whims. Never mind that you are cheating them. YOU feel better.”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative - 2009
Do not despair. The noise you hear is not your computer dying. It is me groaning. He shot me right between the eyes. I am not one to back down easily, but the last decade or so has worn me down, remember? It was getting easier and easier to cave over some issues around here. Easier and easier till it was almost unbearable and had to stop.

I faced an unpleasant, distasteful fact. The buck stops with me. Yea. I know. That is covered in the Parenting 101 handbook they give you with the at home pregnancy test kits. I failed to get the memo, or mine was written in Mandarin which I don't read.

I'd love to tell you I came up with some  high-falutin', new fangled system for bullet proof parenting. It's not shiny or new. It's just old, tired, and true. If things were going to change around here, they had to change with me first. I had to toughen up, decide what I wanted, and then believe I wanted it badly enough that the troops I lead knew I believed it.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Here's the thing about kids: you let 'em smell indecision for a nanosecond, and you are toast. It's like a wolf smelling fear. You may as well offer up your throat and say, “Dinner's served!” So, I had to spend several days praying and thinking and deciding to die to myself and that desire to avoid confrontational parenting. Ok...I did a lot of confronting. It just didn't mean anything. So, I had to really think a lot about how to make my confrontations effective vs just the sound and fury of vain ramblings.

The experiment is well under way now. I am happy to say, life is feeling a little more like we are moving forward vs spinning our wheels and going nowhere fast. Now it is your turn to groan (I hope) as I tell you my time is all up for tonight. Why don't you come back tomorrow, and I'll tell you more about my decision to practice the gentle art of kamikaze parenting! Love you long and strong. See you soon, fraidy cat! 
Courtesy B. Creasy
Deuteronomy 4: 9 (NIV)
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

 Help Me Jesus by Rich Mullins

No comments:

Post a Comment