By Samantha McKenzie
I knew stepping into parenthood would be a challenge. I read a few books, talked for hours on the phone with my mother for advice. Actually I talked to anyone who sounded more confident than I did. But mostly I prayed, tried my best and felt my way through the process.
Parenting isn’t an exact science. Sometimes one method will work on one child and not on the other. Other times, the same method outgrows its usefulness and catches you by surprise. Don’t get me wrong, there are obvious parenting techniques that are tried and true. Making sure your child eats a balanced meal or gets enough sleep at night – easy enough.
We are extremely attentive to our parenting style during our child’s formative years. But as children begin to grow, sometimes, we as parents get stuck believing they are still our little babies and the struggle begins.
Like when I yelled at my youngest for not doing a chore, she reminded me that it wasn’t because she couldn’t, it was because I wouldn’t let her. She said I would take the broom from her while she swept and show her how to do it the “right” way. Since she was child No.3, my learning curve was shrinking. I quickly came up with a plan to teach her a new household chore on every birthday. I also stopped taking the broom away from her, no matter what.
The pressure really ensued when it was time for the “firsts.” The first school dance, the first sign of puberty, the first kiss, and the first heartbreak. And sex. This topic was on the list. It felt like stepping into a ring of fire with a tiny sword ready to fight a lion. I knew I had to do it, but I already felt defeated.
It’s not like I didn’t know they were going to one day drive the car, or stay out late on a movie date or have sex. But the thought is still dreadful. My daughter still laughs at me when I tell her, she can go on her first date after she’s married.
I can truly say that the most difficult part of my parenting process were those times when the moment had arrived, and I was not ready. I learned through the years that as my children grew, I had to grow up along with them.
Part of this process for me was seeing them as individuals. They were more than just my children. I was blessed to have the opportunity to parent them and with that came a huge responsibility. It was my job to get myself prepared. I had to equip myself with the tools they would need to be healthy, productive human beings.
Many wine bottles later, it started to sink in. I began to give them more responsibilities and trust that the things I taught them would work. I also had to prepare myself for their mess ups and mistakes. I found myself letting go of the idea that they had to be perfect. I encouraged them to take risks and explained why failure was a part of the learning process. Instead of discouraging it, I talked to them about getting back up and starting over.
You should thank your children for helping you grow up as a parent. They teach you much about yourself. And they help sweeten the journey.