My Parenting Approach
As a Long-Distance Momma & Step Momma
I was given this incredible gift to be a long-distance momma. The ONLY reason this situation has been heartbreaking is because of the story society has told me about what it means to be a mother. The story society tells me about being a long-distance mother is that it is hard, and will lead to a poor relationship with my child. This couldn’t be more wrong.
I was also given the incredible gift to be a step momma. Society told me that I was evil and had no place in her life. We certainly had our flips and flops but I flat out refused to give up on being there for her when she needed me. Today, Carlie is one of the best persons I have in my life to have a quality conversation with and it gets even better the older we get.
Society ruins us and in turn… ruins our children.
I know that is a very harsh and dividing statement but I believe it with every fiber of my soul. We are not raising children. You can raise sheep or chickens… or even a vegetable garden…. but when it comes to our children we should never consider raising them. I believe we should cultivate and walk away. Turn up the soil, and let our kids plant their seeds.
One of the reasons I left coaching (personal/life) is I found that my attachment to my clients gave me a stake in their lives. Their successes became mine. Their loses, also mine. Their action… mine and their inaction, also mine. This created dissonance within me. This gave me a responsibility for others that I’m not sure human beings should really possess. Guidance is one thing, but when I became attached to my client’s outcomes… that is when the words of Lao Tzu came to haunt me.
“A leader is best when people hardly know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.” and “Good words are not persuasive and persuasive words are not good.”
Even writing this blog makes me a little uncomfortable because I know people love my words. They are inspired and motivated to act a certain way… and I’m not sure that is always the best thing. It’s a great deal of responsibility.
What does this have to do with parenting? We often take ownership of our children. We own their behaviors good and bad. We take on their drama, their wins and losses, and we expect them to adhere to a set of standards that we have placed at their feet. While I value morality, kindness, compassion, ambition and not acting like a jerk while standing in line at the post office, I value independence more.
I have heard parents call their kids “mini-me”s more times than I care to admit and it literally makes me want to vomit. Your children are not you… and the more you try to hammer that idea in them or expect them to act accordingly… you’re diminishing their potential. Yes. You are placing your own bullshit limitations on your children and it’s going to hurt them for the rest of their lives.
I have done it too. Which is why I’m grateful I learned that I was doing it years ago so I could adjust my parenting style and allow my son to figure out who he wants to be without my stupid input. It’s why I have stood next to Carlie when she needed me and let it go when my input was clearly not needed. Was it easy in either of these situations… hell no. I want to be a part of the reason why they are successful and happy… and then you realize how that really looks and see how narcissistic that kind of mindset is.
I’m here to make sure my kids don’t die. That is really all I feel responsible for. It is their jobs to figure out what kind of human beings they want to become. Sure, I am still proud of his A+ report cards or her awesome new job right out of college… but they are not my wins. They belong to them and they were achieved by the efforts they put into these accomplishments.
My Interference Isn’t Needed
I try not to divulge or tell stories about who my kids are to the world for fear they will think they have to “perform” to be worth a fuck to anyone. I take a very detached approach to parenting them, and honestly, they have figured it out. They have figured out what resonates with them… the kind of people they want in their lives, how to handle difficult humans along the way and they have done it all themselves…
I’m sure they would attribute part of their success or accomplishments to myself or my life partner. But, the truth is “they” did the work… plain and simple. All I have done to be an effective parent is pursued my own personal achievements and sought my own selfish freedom. This is what makes me a brilliant parent… which many would say is a fail. Many would suggest that my lack of presence in my son’s life is hurting him… some would say that my lack of calling my stepdaughter is hurting her.
I’m sorry, but that’s crap. I need no input from these sources because I find these sources are either over-reaching… or they are trying to work out their own bullshit on my personal experience. The end story is… detach from your kids. They might just surprise you. Don’t prevent their failures or cushion their falls… Don’t expect them to be like you or like what you like…. the mark of a successful parent is a child that is nothing like them. Appreciate their journey… compliment them… encourage them…. but don’t place your limiting crap on their lives.