Parenting is Tricky — Believe Me, I Know!
One of the ways we are Building Community at The Mabin School is by offering all kinds of opportunities for parents to meet other parents. After all, parenting can be lonely! And even those of us who deal with children every day in our work lives have a different challenge when the children we are dealing with are our own.
Recently, I read a great book for parents of teenagers (full disclosure: my son is 14), Anthony Wolff’s Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? It was reassuring to read that I am not the only mother in the world who cannot get my son to do everything that I want him to … and not only that, his mortification at being seen with me in public is quite typical. I remember how terribly embarrassing my own parents were to me when I was 14, and I was glad to be reminded that this is a perfectly normal part of the individuation that happens as children transition to adults.
One of our teachers alerted me to another great read by Gretchen Rubin, the well-known author about Happiness. Sometimes, as parents, we feel our children’s pain so deeply that we begin to “interview for it.” We can get so intent on affirming our children’s feelings, that we start to positively reinforce the unhappy stories rather than helping them look for the good stories. One way to think about this is: are we encouraging an abundance mindset or a scarcity mindset? Are we encouraging our kids to think about what is going well and the things we have to be grateful for, or are we encouraging them to think about what’s missing, moments when things are going wrong.
This is not to say that we should ignore painful stories or dismiss painful feelings. As Dr. Clinton told us in the fall, bad feelings can motivate important shifts in behaviour. But as Gretchen Rubin writes:
Now I remind myself not to interview for pain. Yes, stay open to a discussion, if someone close to me wants to talk about something painful. Not to be dismissive, not to be eager to avoid the subject — but also not to shine such a spotlight on a difficult situation that everything good fades out.Interested in finding out more about this? Her short article about “interviewing for pain” can be found here. And for more great parenting advice, join us at our Parent2Parent Learning Conference where parent members of the Mabin community will teach us what they have learned in their work with children. If you haven’t already registered, you can sign up here. Finally, a reminder that we are opening up our Kindergarten room for Saturday Morning Choosing Times to parents and caregivers with children 0-5 starting Saturday, February 3. There won’t be any formal advice given here, but an opportunity to get together with other parents who are guiding their children through the same age and stage — and I bet some of them have figured out some pretty good tricks of the trade. If you have a child 0-5, join us!