When we become mothers (or fathers), everything changes. Everything. Our bodies (more-so for mothers), our schedules, our priorities, our budgets, our skill sets, our capacity to do whatever we want whenever we want, and our levels of understanding.
Some mothers use their role as Mother (or Father) to make life miserable for others, the degree to which life is or has been miserable for said Mother (or Father). Being a mother and having had my fair share of misery, I get this.
But other mothers (and fathers), those like you and me, want to live improved lives and contribute to others’ improved lives (including our children). Our reasons for this will be different. One of my reasons is that I know and understand how it feels (as a child and at other stages of life) to feel helpless, hopeless, and powerless. Some of the main thrusts of my parenting framework, therefore, include wanting to help my children to truly help themselves so that they don’t feel helpless, to give them real hope so that they don’t feel hopeless, and to acquaint them with their personal power so that they don’t feel powerless.
Among other things, I aim to foster self-esteem in my children. To nurture self-confidence. To grow self-respect. To help them use and develop their voice and choice in everyday ways.
Like most other moms (and dads), I struggle daily, and often multiple times a day more than can be counted on my fingers and toes, with finding the balance between understanding and accountability. (Or, between being accommodating and being critical. Or, as I’ve heard it spouted, between grace and truth.) I think it’s possible to utilize the best elements (to extract the essence) of both ends of the spectrum, to have an appropriate blend for the moment. And I think that this is the crux of it all, for us as the mothers (and fathers) that we are. Finding the right balance of approaches or the best blend of techniques to achieve healthy equilibrium in our relationships with our children.
In other words, we can be understanding while we are lovingly but firmly holding our children accountable for things that are developmentally appropriate. (We can find middle ground between being enabling and being coercive—both of which extremes are ineffective parenting tactics.)
We can make accommodations for our children while we are offering constructive criticism, all without being harsh about it or critical, per se. (We can make allowances for our children’s faults and weaknesses without being judgmental about it—we don’t have to make them feel bad for being children; it’s not their fault that they are children.)
And we can show grace while we are leading our children in paths of truth, all without being mean or hurtful about it (whether psychologically or physically or both). (What makes spiritual abuse, in particular, so sick is that it masquerades as God-approved.)
So the main idea I try to keep in mind as I wade through the day is to use my Mother Power for good. As mothers (and fathers), we possess the greatest power over our children, and it’s vitally important—for the good of our child’s personhood, for the good of our family, and for the good of our community—to exercise that power with tender love and gentle care.
What are some of the main ideas that you try to keep in mind as you mother (or father) your children?