Sometimes as a parent you reach out for help from friends, family, and even the all mighty internet. Unfortunately you will come to the realization that all this parenting advice you have been seeking is all just a waste of time. Why? Well, because every child is a unique individual and no situation is the same, similar at times but never the same.
I have spent so much time asking friends and family for help. Wasted hours spent reading blogs on the internet and resorting to glancing through some of the popular self-help books. Has this helped me? Not really, but it did make me realize that things could be worse and sometimes knowing this makes it easier to cope with the situation at hand.
I found that the majority of advice says to sit down and speak to your ‘tween’, discuss their feelings and let them know that it is normal to feel stuck, confused, and even scared at the thought of transitioning into adulthood. REALLY!? This tactic may work, I’m not saying it doesn’t, but getting my child to stop for a moment so that I can convince him that a conversation is going to give him some perspective on his life is nearly impossible. When I attempt to sit him down to talk, I get the ‘I know’ statement before I get through my first sentence. My son seems to believe that he has mind-reading super powers supposedly followed by a sea of empathy and patience with ME, which only flips my emotions into those of non-encouragement and non-patience, no matter how much I try to stay in control. In lieu of this method, I try to make statements on a daily basis, hoping he’ll understand that he can come to me any time with his feelings. I try to ask him general questions to see if he wants to have a conversation.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect my son to listen and do what I say every time I speak. He is going to push my buttons to the limit, to see what he can get away with and sometimes just for the fun of it all. During this tween phase I have had to face my fear of what others think and what they may say about my parenting skills. For example, the great coat debacle. When winter set in this year my son decided he didn’t need to wear a winter coat. I fought tooth and nail to get him to wear a coat. This usually ended with him walking into the school, both of us angry at the other. Sometimes I would win and he would put his coat on and other times he would win and be coatless. I was aware of what others may have thought when they saw my child leave my car with just a light cotton zip up hoodie, but I had to brush it off. I had to realize that the argument just wasn’t worth it. I’d done everything I could, outside of duct taping the jacket to his body. If they thought I was a poor parent, oh well. They have no idea what it’s like to parent my son. The frustration was just too overwhelming and it was obvious that he had to learn this lesson on his own.
Still, I chuckled a few weeks later when I read a post on my Facebook feed from my son’s school regarding children wearing coats. I found it completely ironic. The post asked what was wrong with parents who allowed their children to walk into school with only a hoodie on. It went on to say how in this weather hoodies just weren’t warm and protective enough for these poor children. As anyone who knows me can attest, I believe in speaking your mind but a really long drawn out post bashing parents when you do not know the circumstances surrounding someone’s situation just seemed uncalled for. Perhaps they cannot afford a winter coat or just maybe they are in my situation where it became such an overwhelming battle every morning and they had just decided to try out some tough love. Who wants to start their day every day in a loud argument? I surely do not. And if this is an argument I’m having daily with my son, I would be willing to bet that some of those other parents are having the exact same fight. I admit, after reading the post on my Facebook feed my fear of judgment crept back. I felt myself starting to fret that maybe people were talking about my parenting skills, when the reality is that we’re all just doing our best, finding our way with our growing and maturing kids. What works for me may not work for someone else, and definitely what works for someone else does not work for me.
I search each day to find the positive things about my tween and then I savor those things and hold them close. I realize that my time with him is halfway over and that I should enjoy what time we have when we can. Searching online for answers or reading a book does not work. It only confused me more and made me angry because the answers that I need are just are not there. Living one day at a time is the answer. Look for your answers in each moment. Only you have the answers, you just need to stay strong, it’s there.