Know your parenting place |

Know your parenting place

Debbie Wilde
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

One of the biggest challenges of parenting is knowing our “parenting place.” We must recognize what we are responsible for when it comes to our children and what responsibilities are out of our control. At YouthZone, we too have to remember this as we work with kids. We can provide opportunity, support and guidance. We understand the frustrations of our limitations.

These frustrations are much the same that we all experience as parents. How many times have you said to yourself or out loud, “I know what is right. If you only would do what I tell you, your life and my life would be great.”

This piece of writing by an unknown author that is published in “Fresh Elastic for Stretched out Moms” by Barbara Johnson offers guidance for recognizing our parenting limits.

It’s Your Move Daughter

I gave you life

But I cannot live it for you.

I can teach you things

But I cannot make you learn.

I can teach you right from wrong

But I can’t always decide for you.

I can buy you beautiful clothes

But I can’t make you lovely inside.

I can offer you advice

But I cannot accept it for you.

I can give you love

But I cannot force it upon you.

I can teach you kindness

But I cannot force you to be gracious.

We sometimes forget that the precious new life that we brought into the world is dependent upon us but separate from us. The natural development of a child to move toward being an individual who must learn to live their own life takes on full steam in the teen years.

This is confusing and frightening to the parent who does not understand that separation is an essential part of growing up. We label the child’s push-back rebellion. We think them ungrateful for all we have done for them and either hold on tighter or let go altogether. Neither of these actions has productive results. Instead, think of these as the years of “hold me while you let me go.”

Allowing a child the space to be responsible does not guarantee smooth sailing through the growing years. Children will disappoint us. Children will make choices that grieve us. Children will fail. But if they are allowed the consequences of their decisions in a climate of support, they will learn from their failures.

Parents must supply the guardrails for this learning. We need our children to learn responsibility for their decisions and actions when the consequences are not life-threatening or life- altering. Decisions that leave a child in the grip of addictive substances is not the place we want them to learn their lessons. Yet this is the place our children can end up if we offer too little guidance or if we exercise too much control. Using alcohol or other drugs is one of the easiest ways for a teen to “rebel.”

Remember your parenting place. “I gave you life, but I cannot live it for you.”

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