Some parents see things as black or white. It’s either this or that. No in between. Others see things as gray.. a little blended area where both can be “understood”.
I am more of a “seeing things as gray” parent. I used to think that was my superpower. I believed that I was kinda special because I could see both sides of most stories so I was able to understand where people on opposing sides were coming from.
I still think it’s a pretty good quality. I really do— but sometimes, I wish I could just be ” a black or white” thinker. Especially most recently and definitely when it comes to my role as mom and decision maker for my children. Does this mean that I am going to change who I am or change my thinking? Not necessarily- just stay with me here as I try to explain.
I am a truster. I trust everyone immediately until they give me a reason not to. And then sometimes I still trust them. Yup, I am that fool. As a parent, many moms think I am crazy. And maybe I am. I know that times have changed. I know we no longer live in the days where parents sent their kids outside to play right after breakfast and didn’t see them again until the streetlights were coming on and it was time for dinner. I know this. And I know that even when I was growing up, some kids didn’t experience this kind of ignorant, naive freedom or have parents that were extremely liberal with things like playing outside. I don’t necessarily feel that because the world has changed, that I have to change my thinking. So– I send my kids to the park that is down the corner and out of my view. And these kids are 7 and 9. I do not worry that someone is going to snatch them up in plain sight, but I am aware that it is possible. I just struggle with feeling like I can’t give my kids the sense of some “freedom” because of fear that I have. They know the rules about strangers and what my expectations are so I try to let them spread their wings.
I allow my kids to attend sleepovers. Yup, I know- that is something that a lot of people disagree with and I know exactly where those feelings come from as well. And while I respect them, I don’t follow those same guidelines. I am not afraid that by letting my child sleep at a friends house or play at a friends house that a parent may be inappropriate towards them . Do I know that this is possible? Do I know that many frown upon this? Yes I do— and does that change my way of thinking? Not in the slightest. And when my children have friends that have parents that believe this way, I make sure my children understand that these beliefs MUST be respected always even if they do not understand the reasons behind them.
I do not assume that every adult male is out to do something horrible to my daughters so I allow my daughters to go places with their friends even if only the father is present. Am I possibly setting my children up for something bad to happen? Possibly, but I will not stop doing what I believe is right. Am I putting my child in harm’s way? I sure as hell hope not, but understand the risk I am taking. Will people frown upon my decisions? Abso-freakin-lutely! And are they entitled to? Abso-freakin-lutely! And because of that, I understand why, if I am not home and my husband is that they may not allow their child over to my house or to pick their child up even if my daughter is in the car as well. I may not believe the same way, but I respect the different way of thinking. And I would never shame another parent because of their beliefs or rules in parenting.
I respect and understand the notion that my way of thinking surrounding being a parent and how I raise my children may cause some to not want me to look after their children. And believe me when I tell you, I get it and chances are, I don’t want to look after your children anyway. And I understand that because of my actions and beliefs, you may not want your child to interact with mine… and you know what- that is okay also. Hopefully you don’t think my kid is a jerk, but if you do- you are entitled. I think they are all jerks sometimes too.
Because of this, well- I feel like I may have always known this, but neither one of us thinkers are wrong. I may be more conflicted, because I DO understand both sides- yes, but not necessarily wrong. I may be a complete whack job and naive according to your beliefs, but not necessarily wrong. My thoughts and views may not fit in to someone else’s lifestyle, but not necessarily wrong.
I want my kids to grow up understanding that people have different thoughts and opinions. I want them to know AND understand that when they are with their friends and their friends have different thoughts or rules, that these all need to be respected. I want them to understand that their friends, while possibly different thinkers, are not wrong. They do not need to be changed. They need to be heard and honored for their beliefs and staying true to them. And I want them to expect the same back from the people they spend their time with. I have no clue if I want my children to be black and white thinkers or shades of gray thinkers. I guess it isn’t my decision at all anyway. I want them to use their experiences, research, and knowledge to lead their thought process in all areas of life and to stand true to what they believe is right… even when others disagree. And I want them to be honest when they are feeling conflicted and express their concerns in hopes of gaining more insight in making a more knowledgeable decision.
I want to have this same method of thinking as a parent. Parenting is already a hard and not always rewarding job. It is something that I do not take lightly. I think it is even harder, when other parents feel that they are doing everything exactly right and assume that anyone not doing it the same way is automatically wrong. Us parents, we are a judgy group of people. We all have the same goal in raising our kids to be decent people(or so I assume) but our methods of doing it can often clash.
Let me be clear— there are certainly some things that I have more of a “black and white” approach with. Things like being disrespectful, my thoughts on bringing home decent grades, doing what I say the first time you are told, etc. And let me tell you- my thoughts behind these things are STRONG and I expect what I expect, no questions asked– something that has made people look at me like I am the worst mom ever
Please know that I say all of this as someone who has been called a horrible parent and a phenomenal parent by some of the same people. To my face and behind my back at times. I am known as Satan by one of my own children and one of her friends. It is what it is. I am not out here trying to win mom of the year- I am strictly trying to just survive parenthood and make it through only mildly bruised. Many times I am definitely NOT making the best parenting choices and other times, I KNOW I am killing the parenting game. I don’t really think that I need validation on my parenting any longer– I really just need for my kids to grow up and not be assholes….
See what I mean about the shades of gray thing?
In all things find beauty,