PARENTING ISN'T BLACK AND WHITE



Yeah, I said it. And, I mean it. Parenting isn't black and white, nor is it for the faint of heart. Nor does it come in a one size fits all.

For all you grammar aficionados that last sentence is incorrect and I know it. The word "nor" is a conjunction and is used before the second or further of two or more alternatives to indicate that they're each untrue. It's against the rules to use it as a standalone. But, I used it anyway, because it furthers my point about parenting which is: there are no precise rules to follow that will make you a parenting aficionado.

If you want to be a good parent, let go of the idea of being a good parent. I can't tell you how many books I've read on parenting. While they have given me some really good ideas and a hell of a lot to think about they haven't given me the golden key to parenting.

I'll be honest with you, I don't understand entirely who I am with my children. The most I know on any given day is that I am myself. Whatever self that decides to show up that day, that's who I am. I don't pretend with my kids. I don't see any need to try to be all that. (Whatever all that is just a created image anyway.) Why? Because it puts me on edge. It makes me dizzy to try to be someone I'm not. I want to feel comfortable with the people who are in my everyday private circle. That's definitely my kids. They see me more than any other human on this planet. While I realize they can never truly know me, they can only know their story of me, I want to live mask free with them so the story they have of me has a better chance of lining up with the story I have of me as their parent.

I didn't know my folks. I didn't know what made them laugh. I didn't know what made them cry. I never saw them angry. I didn't know what part of my personality brought them the most joy. I didn't know how to be in their presence and just be me. I knew their rules and I knew not to break them. And, in case any of you feel bad for me, don't! My folks taught me: impeccable manners, the beauty of knowing how to work and live in a team, how to love animals, how to trust nature, to appreciate music, and, most importantly, that my life didn't mean a thing without Jesus at the helm.

As a parent, I am still learning. I learn something every day from one of my children. On a good day, I learn from both of them. But, no kidding, my children are rife with lessons on how to live life successfully. For example, when I think I know how something should be done, one of my children purposely does it a different way to show me that there is no one right way to do something. Another example, when we are out in nature, I see my son being gutsy, which teaches me to be gutsy. He has no fear of the things he cannot see. He will run straight into the mountain and around the corner. He does this because he trusts and believes that everything is for him. I learn to do this in my life away from the mountain as a result.

Parenting - the way we perform parenting - is culturally derived. Each society has its own mythology, complete with rituals, beliefs, expectations, norms, and symbols. No society is right. Like I said, parenting is not black and white. The way to parent is not writ in the stars, the primordial soup, the collective unconscious, nor in our genes. My folks, and I'm sure yours too, followed a pattern very different from my own, and my children may follow a path other than the one I've followed with their own children.

What do we think is best for our children? How do we want them raised? Whom do we hold accountable?

I invite you to get out of the cultural vortex, and question your most basic assumptions about parenting. There is nothing wrong with questions. Even if you end up like me, and don't find answers to a lot of your questions, it's still okay. The magic of questioning is that it opens you up to alternatives, to options, to a place that isn't defined by "my way or the highway" mentality. And, I promise you, the way in which you view your children and parenting will change drastically. Question your beliefs and shazam, a whole new world becomes visible.



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