This week I was encouraging my daughter to stick her face in the water. I had been really frustrated with the regression she had made from the previous summer where she was diving under the water in the kiddie pool to this summer not liking any water on her face. We live in Florida and summers here are either inside with AC or by a body of water by necessity. So I am sure you can understand my frustration as she fearfully repeated, "I can't." I started to insist and suggest things and inside my head I started wondering, "Have I been too soft on her? Or should I be harder? Don't want her to regress further because I am a harsh parent who demands their kids try to do things. But I don't want pansy kids who are afraid of everything either! Where is the line of how hard to push?"
Back when our grandparents had children there was less information and advice coming at them. So as a parent then, you were trusting doctors advice or relying on generational example for your 'parenting style'. You either did the same or the exact opposite depending on what home life you had as a child. For most it was probably that twighlight zone of a little of this and definitely not that! So, I start to research how to teach a reluctant child to swim. I love to research! I admit I was confused because her sister is a fish and was swimming early. And now we have an overwhelming limitless amount of information from Grandma, the neighbor, the stranger in line, the pediatrician, the internet, the countless books and I am sure you can rely on opinions from your dearest friend who is a little too comfortable sharing sometimes. From diaper brands, potty training, timeouts, grounding, spanking, sports, education, yelling, silent treatment to cell phones, driving and dating; everyone has a theory on the best way to do it or not do it. I am happy to report that she took my few suggestions and then pretty much convinced herself with a little nudging and encouragement from those gathered at the pool to push herself further. By the end of time at the pool she was jumping in the deep end with her swimmies! I didn't push too hard this time and she was all smiles and even took off her swimmies for a bit to try swimming without mommy holding her belly in the shallow end.
There are methods and theories out the wazoo! Why? I think we all have heard by now that there are different strokes for different folks. Your right way of doing something may be absolutely wrong for me. Even if our children were identical, you and I, aren't. You may be able to have the patience for teaching your child math for instance and it is just better for all involved that I get a tutor for mine. Or maybe I could say the exact same thing as you but your child receives it way better than mine does. A three day potty training method might have worked for your son, but my son, who is yes older that yours, isn't buying into it. You may think my methods of watching my children are way overprotective but maybe I think your are way too lax. You may think I am too soft and am creating 'the problem' in the first place. I may think you are pushing your kid too hard to be a world changer and the pressure is unfair. Again - Grace!
My goal in this whole parenting thing is to do as little damage to my children as possible. I have, yes, accepted the fact that I will damage my children (definitely the oldest trial child) to some degree and probably down to the youngest child(most likely spoiled baby). I think the important thing to remember is that no matter how confident we seem about our method or choice there is always some little part of us that wonders if what worked with the first child will work for the others. So, if we can stay open to hearing others' ideas (yes with a grain of salt) and remain teachable and humble we will be way better examples to our children of how to put up with 'difficult people' or 'judgemental' people.
And the rest....
NOT MY CIRCUS NOT MY MONKEYS
The line between too much and too little is lost in the haze,
but if you allow the mist to keep you humble rather than fearful you will be okay.
These are the guys I will keep teaching to the best of my ability and trust that the Lord will use my successes and my mistakes to shape them into the people He wants them to be. May I have grace to make it through rougher stuff than swim lessons. ;)
G R A C E 4 U & 4 ME