Thursday, August 07, 2008

Commenting

One of my favorite splurges of time is to read Feminist Mormon Housewives.  Regardless of how I feel about a topic I always leave with something to chew on for the rest of the day.  Today I made my first comment, which I realized after hitting the send button, looked more like a blog post than a comment.  I can be a bit wordy (sorry FMH readers).

Well, I'm turning lemons into lemonade!  Since I haven't been in much of a blogging mood, preferring to stick to blogger stalkdom, I'm cutting my comment into a blog post!  Genius! Ok, maybe not genius.  

I did expound on one point below which is indicated by color.   And here is the post I am responding to - which in a nutshell talks about what freedoms we allow our children, in the midst of parental paranoia and parenting peer pressure, in order to help them grow into the adults we hope they will be.  

Perfect timing for this post. Yesterday my boys and I went for an adventure. We walked passed our in-perfect-working-order car, up the hill and three blocks to the local bus stop. We were just going to the library, a mere 3 or 4 mile jaunt, but taking the bus made the difference between errand and adventure for all three of us. (Not to mention killing some time with is high on my priority list)

On the way home we sat at the bus stop for what I realized was longer than I was comfortable with. The library is smack downtown of my uber-Republican, SUV driving, little town - and the bus stop is right in front. As I watched cars drive by with people who glanced out at us I started wondering what they were thinking. The voice of my insecurity (which sounds a lot like me when I was 14) started popping up. Then I looked at my kids. They sat proudly, eyes wide open watching for the #284, grasping onto their $.50 bus money, all while chattering away about what they might see on the bus ride home. It pushed all my own socially driven voices away.  In fact, I found myself hoping that these early experiences will somehow shape their attitudes later in life regarding the same subjects.  

Not to mention that we walked away from the 'adventure' today having only spent $2 ($1 each way for my fare), used public resources, AND learned some math, literacy and social studies.  The boys (on our 3 mile walk later last night) saw bus signs where they recognized the #284, realizing the bus route could take us from the city where we listen to music in a park ALL the way to our own library.  They learned that four quarters equal a dollar which equals the fare.  They learned to listen for the station name to be called out so they knew when to get off.  It still amazes me what we got in just those twenty minutes total on the bus.  

My driving factor  as a parent is that want my kids to be able to strong, independent, capable people (especially in their teens and beyond). I want them to know their own personal boundaries, recognize their own discomfort in situations and respond, to know their own voices, and trust themselves. This means I have to keep my own anxious, unreasonable voice quiet so they can hear themselves. I practice this now by letting them climb on the playground equipment without following them around like some underpaid bodyguard. Even though I want to be the bodyguard. It’s taken me some time, and still does on a daily basis, to realize that the chance of the things happening in real life that I play out in my head are relatively slim. Still I too need to trust myself, differentiate between anxiety and real concern and act accordingly.

Pollyjk (a fellow commenter on the site) made a good point - that there are differences in parenting based on situation, location and circumstance. It’s always hard to look across the grass and wonder if what you are doing is right or wrong in comparison. What I got most from mfranti is that as parents we seem to have lost sight of our own instincts as parents. We cater to the demands of our kids, the voices of society (tv/video in particular), and the all too familiar adult peer pressures. Where our parents, or even generations back, might have been considered too lack with parenting (slumber parties galore) we’ve 180′d to an overprotective place. This place doesn’t serve us or our kids any justice since it teaches us to be driven by fear.

For the time being I’m grateful that my kids are 4 and 3. The issues we face now will set the groundwork for later emotions, esteem, etc - but overall rank minimal on the fear scale. Soon enough the larger issues will be here - and I hope that we’ve both laid enough groundwork and that I’ve learned to trust myself and them by that time.

4 comments:

Terina said...

that post has totally intrigued me since i read it, and the other ones that have been along the same lines. been thinking a lot about it.

Walkers said...

You always give me something to ponder about. Antonio is six now, and he wants to be big, but how much "free reign" do I give him. I, too, want them to be independent, but of course, it is the mother-bear instinct that will always kick in.

mfranti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mfranti said...

hey, about that last comment...it took a while for the page to load...i didn't realize that when i commented.

hey, that's my post you're talking about!