Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Parenting...

It's becoming a theme in my life. After 14 years, it's about dang time, don't you think?

Below is a pictorial representation of my philosophy of parenting. Well, an aspect of parenting. A foundational aspect of parenting.
PArenthood Theory

It's simply says, that as an infant children wholly depend on their parents to be the decision makers. They have no authority or power, other than a blood curdling scream, to make decisions for themselves about what they will eat, where they will sleep, what they will wear, etc.

But, as a child grows through the stages of the toddler years on up through adolescence and the dreaded teenage years, they are given more authority to make decisions for themselves within the safety net of parental boundaries.

Let me give you an example:

When Griffin was a toddler he was given the option of 2-3 outfits to choose from when getting dressed for school. He could choose within the very limited selection he was provided.

During elementary school his instruction were that he could choose any collared shirt Monday through Thursday from his wardrobe and was free to wear T-shirts on Friday.
This was a Friday and I clearly lost the battle on tube socks vs. ankle socks. It happened a lot. But, I chose my battles wisely. Tube socks- not really a battle worth fighting.
This was a rough morning. It was a battle of the wills. Obviously, he was NOT happy with the rules and wanted to go to school in his robe, helmet, and gloves. But, I stood my parental ground and we came to an agreement.
And all was right with the world again.

We have now entered Junior High and he is allowed nearly full wardrobe creative rights. As long as he is within the school dress code policy. However, I still have the authority to veto purchases when shopping for school clothes because the majority of the time, I am paying for those clothes.
Hot diggety dog
He attempted to get out of the house in this one morning, but I gently reminded him of the time that he pushed the dress code policy rules and wore my mini skirt to school under the pretense that it was no shorter than his finger tips and he ended day in after school detention. He decided to change.

It's my vision and utter hope that as he continues into High School he will have a job earning money of his own. This will lead to full authorized purchasing power in the hands of one diligent and hardworking teenage boy. Guess what? The only position that I will take is to veto anything that is completely inappropriate for the occasion. Like if he wants to wear a speedo to Uncle Bartholomew's wedding, I might take the liberty of strongly encouraging him to re-think his choice of attire lest he be completely alienated from the remainder of the family to sulk in a corner and wonder why in the world his family has left him in such a state of loneliness and despair.

This could be him one day. I'm just saying, I will do everything in my power to help prevent that, but ultimately it is HIS decision.

Let's say a prayer for him now... Amen.

Seriously though, this theory of mine applies to all decision making. How to spend/save money, what to eat/drink, how much time to spend studying and doing homework, how to use his designated free time, and the list goes on and on and on. And the hardest part is sticking with this theory. Being consistent is by far more exhausting than just deciding for him what he's going to order from the menu in a restaurant or who he is going to invite to his birthday party or what he is going to spend his allowance on this next week (or save, SAVE, SAVE that money).

Y'all- I. mess. this. up. all. the. time. Especially when I can see an epic fail in the making. Oh yea, it happens! But I have to continually remind myself its better for that epic fail to happen in my presence where I can assist with piecing his life back together than for it to happen when he's out there on his own in the cold, lonely, cruel, harsh, big, bad world of adulthood.

My heart's hope is that he leaves the nest with skills to make educated decision, has experienced some failures so he understands they aren't the end of the world when he experiences other cruel and unusual punishment dished out by the world, and that he always knows he can come back to his mama for support and encouragement in the form of a hug, cup of coffee, and a chocolate chip cookie. Because let's face it, life is better with coffee and chocolate chip cookies.

Signing off now,

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