Saturday, 28 April 2012

Being Wrong

Do you ever feel as a parent you get it wrong? I sometimes wonder if I get anything right in parenting. I have read so many books on parenting, tried so many different techniques in discipline, analysed my 4 for love languages and daily try to engage with them in loving and positive ways, yet still get it wrong. There is no magic formula or one size fits all approach. Thankfully. 

This week had that overwhelming feeling of getting it wrong alot. My beautiful Sunshine, all of 10yrs, is so dedicated to her dancing that sometimes I wonder if it's obsessive. Dancing does suit her perfectionist personality, however it's a delicate balance between aiming for excellence and not being devastated if it's not perfect. I think Sunshine finds that balance hard to find. What can I expect of her, she is only 10!

How do we as parents encourage them to do their very best, to strive for their potential, yet not project unrealistic expectations on them?

We had one of our bed time chats this week about an upcoming Eisteddfod.... I gave her the printed run sheet emailed from her dance studio that day for the Eisteddfod. She had been abit sleepy until I gave it to her, she then sat bolt upright in bed, obviously distressed by what she was reading. " What's up?", I asked. " They've got it all wrong, this isn't good enough, they should have done the run sheet like last year's, all detailed out, times and dances!" 

I was stunned at her strong response. So passionate. So disappointed. So perfectionistic (is that a word?)! She was so upset about something so small I thought. We kept talking and I tried to placate her saying they would probably send another updated, more detailed run sheet closer to the Eisteddfod. She kept on about it...... she was tired, so should have taken that into consideration, however I responded, over responded with comments to the tune of, "where has my sweet Sunshine gone?" And  if  her attitude wasn't going to be more considerate then we may have to consider withdrawing from dancing altogether. We said strained prayers, said goodnight and I left her still huffing and puffing in bed.

I walked out of her room and felt so bad. I got it so wrong. Handled the situation so poorly. I had responded to her attitude with the same over reactionary response as she had! Why did that happen?

Bless, just a few days prior, Sunshine had expressed how one day she wanted to do something with her dancing to 'pay me back' for all the costs it incurs. I had told her that there was no need for that, as parents we love to see our children do what they love, that even if she danced for the the pure love of it and never danced formally that it didn't matter. She had seemed disappointed that I didn't share her dream of wanting to one day dance for a ballet company. Again I felt I had got it wrong. That fine line between encouraging them to dream big, aim for the stars, yet not overburden them with expectation.

Your thoughts? How do we as parents encourage our children to pursue their dreams without setting them up for failure, believe in them without puffing them up or deflating them? 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


Selflessness is a beautiful attribute. When displayed by our own children, makes it even more beautiful! Inspired by an act of pure selflessness and thoughtfulness last night by Deep Waters (DW) that has got me thinking about all the times my children have demonstrated selflessness and how it triggers such appreciation and almost relief! And conversely of all the times they don't and how it makes me despair over their total self absorption! 

Appreciation is obvious but relief in a sense that you know they actually do think about others and can be considerate. It seems that so much of our time as parents is teaching and modelling to them how to be thoughtful and considerate of others, that when they actually are, it's a surprise! From toddlers we are teaching them they are not the centre of the universe, yet somehow in this self saturated culture of ours, the message takes awhile to sink in.

I was cooking dinner last night and DW simply came and asked if there was any thing he could do to help. It was such a simple act, but so filled my heart with delight that I had to stop the water welling in my eyes! Its almost like he sensed that I was over tired and needed help and so for him to offer at just that time meant so so much. 

Usually there is the normal dinner routine of asking this one or that to set the table, wash up before dinner or whatever, but to have DW ask of his own motivation was a delightful surprise! 

I gave DW a big hug and thanked him profusely for asking and set him a task, thanking him again when it was completed and praising him big time for his voluntary offer, letting him know how much it meant to me.

What acts of selflessness do your children display? And how do you positively reinforce that? Am curious how as parents we can model this to our children and if its a cumulative effect as is most of parenting.......

Monday, 2 April 2012

War and politics

Odd title for a parenting post, however totally inspired by a bed time conversation with little Miss Sunshine last week. My dear, sweet 10yr old loves to chat at bed time. I love to listen. She started telling me about her close friend's father who had applied to join the army here in Australia, yet due to his nationality, even though now an Australian citizen, didn't pass the tests to join. 

Apparently (and this is all according to a 10yr old's perspective) he was asked if the Australian army was to visit his home town in his home country and had to attack, would he be able to do it? 

That's a heavy question, rightly valid, given the commitment of joining the forces. However my Sunshine found the whole concept of war intolerable. She could not see, as many of us do, any point to attacking innocent villages and people in far flung countries that really have no direct threat to our existence here in Australia! 

I had to agree with her! " What is the point of war?", she innocently asked me. I honestly couldn't answer her! I fumbled some contrived response like; "usually over land, territories, borders, people, wealth, natural resources such as oil, gold, diamonds etc"....

She asked about World War I & II and could there be a World War III & who are Australia's allies and would they really come to help us? Far out! And this is bed time conversation! Having current affairs last week all about Anzac Day and whether as a nation we should celebrate it, was topical also, however did not realise how deeply she thought on the topic.

I was touched by her care and concern for her friend's father, also by her palpable distress over the senselessness of war. Also of a child's intrinsic need to feel safe from harm, secure in their own home, city and country. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs triangle in my mind, putting safety needs a close second after physical needs rung really true.

 Thought back to being 10yrs old myself, simply playing with Barbie dolls and riding my Malvern Star bike safely to school on my own! Not fretting over the possibility of World War III!

Then the conversation turned to politics and the recent win of the LNP! She shared the Tarago ALP seats joke as if it was the funniest thing and then asked, "Do you think they can do it?" " Do what?" I quizzed. "Do you really think they can make things better in Queensland?"

Will leave us all with Sunshine's question!

Children, aren't they priceless for challenging us supposed grown ups on what we think is so sophisticated and complicated! War and politics according to a 10yr old is not too dissimilar to what it really is!