They say that timing is everything. Push too early and you 'have to wait even longer'. Too late and you 'miss the window'. Teaching a new skill is tricky. If you allow your child to develop at their own pace you worry that they will never graduate and leave home. If you push them you worry about turning them into narcissistic, type-A, perfectionist overachievers with a God complex. Which one of those is worse I will leave you to decide. Oh, and who are they?!?
Now, what if there was a way we can find that happy medium. I think that is the only way people who have children can survive - hoping to find the balance/ the line between too much and too little. Will you always find it? No, but you keep on trying.
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?" I didn't want her to regress further because I was being 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 twilight 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.
Now, in our generation, we have an overwhelming, limitless amount of information from Grandma, the neighbor, strangers in line, the pediatrician, the internet, 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 my daughter took my few suggestions and then pretty much convinced herself with a little nudging and encouragement from those gathered poolside to push herself further. By the end of our 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.
I think we can all agree that we all want what's best for our child. I think we can all agree we don't have it all together all the time. I think there are glimpses that something we have said or done to or for our child has worked and in our eagerness and excitement we overshare or advise friends that they should do or try such and such. I think it is important in these moments to remember grace even when you disagree or don't want the implied advice given through 'this little story' of when their kid did such and such. Finding the way to share without pressure or implying judgment is difficult so props to them for trying. Again - GRACE - Use it!
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 my child. 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 than yours, isn't buying into it. You may think my methods of watching my children are way overprotective but maybe I think you 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 to 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.
At the end of the day, it comes down to trusting that we are only in charge of doing our best and encouraging our kids to do the same in the best way we know how.
And the rest....
NOT MY CIRCUS NOT MY MONKEYS
The line between too much and too little is lost in the haze,
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 the grace to make it through rougher stuff than swim lessons. ;)
G R A C E 4 U & 4 ME
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....