>> Wednesday, August 14, 2013
I don't spend much time on facebook. If you're there often and you wonder why I don't interact with you like you like, you should know I'm really there to keep in touch with my college-bound daughter and any interactions I have with anyone else there are largely--no offense--serendipitous.
I do occasionally scroll down through humorous bits that my surprisingly large circle of friends post and one I've been noting a lot recently caught my attention in a way I'm thinking the author had not intended. The gist of the bit is (can't find the original):
If we had spoken to our parents the way children speak to us we would never have obtained adulthood. (With a tacked on note about insisting on respect.)That sounds good on the surface, since children are certainly mouthier today than they used to be. Now sure, however, that's a bad thing. I noted (though that comment has evaporated since, so I couldn't quote directly), that, if I had spoken to my parents the way my daughter spoke to me, perhaps I'd still be speaking to my single remaining parent. Perhaps not, but I suspect my relationship would have been far more honest and perhaps more healthy than it was.
In my eyes, and likely through perpetuity, I am convinced my mother wanted me to be obediant, first, foremost and last. That may be untrue or a distortion of reality, but there was enough truth of that in her behavior to scar me forever and make it impossible for me to trust her again. Impossible. Not a word I use lightly.
My daughter talked back to me from the very start. She questioned everything, challenged every direction and assertion, demanded explanations. The good news is that, if I could convince her of the soundness of my reasoning, I never had to worry about watching her every second to make sure she behaved. Understanding that poisons were dangerous kept her from testing soaps and liquids she came across whether she was afraid of being caught or not. However, if I couldn't convince her, she wouldn't even pretend to obey or withhold her defiance.
Part of the reason she did so was genetic (as my own nature is not dissimilar). Part of it was the overt and extreme antagonism toward me of her father. But, first and foremost, the reason she did so was because I taught her to.
I wanted her to question and to challenge. I wanted her to think for herself and reach her own conclusions. I wanted her, from as early as I could manage, use her own judgement, make her own decisions and live with the consequences.
Now, that's not easy to do, or to live with. Teenager can be challenging enough to deal with without being trained from childhood to defy or ignore what they think is nonsense. And she wasn't shy about swinging her attitude around in school, so I caught flack myself and some from others she was with. But I did it and never regretted it.
Do you know why?
But, when she went to college, she got nearly a 3.8 GPA and has never faltered for a second. She found scholarships, colleges, did the legwork and efforts all on her own to do what she wanted. When she wanted to change colleges, it went from idea to implementation in days without my lifting a finger. When she ran into problems this year (dental issues, other concerns), she handled them herself, arranged things herself, made it happen (and sucked up with minimal complaint those things that resulted from her own misjudgement).
I wanted her to be the grown up she wanted to be, too. Not what I had always envisioned, or what I thought she'd most like, but what she wanted to be. I wanted to give her every opportunity I could for her to find out what she wanted to be and who she wanted to be without inflicting my own deflated dreams and ambitions on her.
And I didn't want her to be a doormat, an idiot who'd buy whatever line she was fed or who would spend years (as I did) with someone who made her miserable.
She's self-reliant, self-assured, sharp, determined, and capable. She plans, she manages, she finagles and she doesn't take crap when she gets cheated or short-changed. No one leaves off her french fries without them fixing it. As it were (doesn't really eat many fries, now that I think of it). But she's also tolerant, compassionate and kind. And she did all of this herself, made herself into this incredible person.
Will I let her sass me? Damn straight. Because I know she shoots straight. I know that, if she tells me she loves me, it's because that's the truth. I know that, if she tells me she's proud of something I did, it's because she is, because she'll tell me if she's not satisfied.
And because, truth told, I'm not the least bit interested in "respect" because I'm her mother. I always thought respect was something you earned by being worthy of it. And I'll take the kind I get because she truly does value my opinion and appreciate my concern over the kind I get from an obedient child any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
In my opinion, being a parent isn't about raising an obedient respectful child. It's about raising a capable child into a viable, thinking, responsible adult.
So, you'll have to excuse me if I feel just a wee bit pleased with myself.
I love you Stephanie (my daughter, not myself). Good luck in your second year in college, though I don't think you'll need it.