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I frequently get compliments on how my son behaves, and trust me I am FAR from the perfect mom. And sometimes, he's just like every other 12 year old boy with a messy room and a dedication to video games. But because he sometimes uses more manners and compassion than a lot of adults do, and people attribute that to his upbringing rather than his own core, I thought I would share a bit of what I do that seems to give Hunter room to bloom.

Hunter and Heidi
Individuality: First and foremost I let Hunter be Hunter. Yes, I did teach him manners, but he implements them when I'm not around as well as when I'm there and that says a lot more about him than it does me. And unless it's an emergency finger-in-the-electric-outlet kinda moment, I generally let him learn from his own mistakes. For instance, when he was drinking a lot of chocolate milk, I wanted to put a stop to that. Knowing he ha the genes of two anti-authority parents, I knew that the more I tried to keep him from it, the more he would want it, so I let him drink it until he was sick of it. It worked.
Hunter putting Heidi to sleep

Love in abundance: Hunter is a natural protector. He befriends the underdog and is fiercely protective of anyone he perceives to be weaker than him. I know this will cause him pain as an adult, but it will also bring him a certain satisfaction and joy. When he made his bed on the floor by my niece's bassinet in case she woke up in the middle of the night, I just made sure he had a pillow. When he walks my nephew around and pats his little bottom as he bounces him, I don't worry that he will drop him because Hunter worries enough for the both of us.
Hunter walking Nathaniel

The only credit I can take for this is the fact that I have always been Hunter's protector and I've never been shy about letting him know how I feel. That's why I randomly tell him I'm proud of him and I trust him enough to give him enough room to make the mistakes he will learn from. Other than that, I'm just his backup when his urge to protect is more than he can handle.

Admit to flaws: The only thing worse than making huge mistakes is feeling like you are the only one who has. When Hunter screws up, I don't bust his ass and send him on his way. I share my own mistakes with him and talk about how I changed so that I didn't repeat those mistakes...and yet I don't assume he should change in the same ways. Instead, I ask him how he thinks he could handle the situation better realizing his perception of the world is different than mine. I think this empowers him and helps him to find his path rather than trying to walk on someone else's. Lucky for me, I screw up all the time so I have an endless pool of mistakes to draw from.

Other than these three things, I just try to keep the lines of communication open. We talk about everything, even the things that make me cringe. Sometimes, it feels like a high price to pay for being a single parent. Other times, I just hope that he can always talk to me about anything.

Again, please don't think I see myself as the perfect parent, because most of the time I'm just wondering what I'm going to screw up next. I'm often told that Hunter and I are closer than most people ever hope to be with their kids. I attribute this to Hunter's ability to love unconditionally rather than my parenting skills, but in case you wondered, those were just the major things I do as a parent because like everyone else, I'm just trying to do the best I can.

2 comments:

  1. Parenting is so hard, and sometimes honesty is the best tool we have. I think sharing our flaws with our kids is a good way to build rapport without violating the parent/child barrier.

  1. I agree. Parenting is extremely hard and no one can do it flawlessly. All parents have strengths and weaknesses. I'm glad that Hunter is there for you and that he understands you. When it comes to parenting, any kind of help is absolutely needed especially when it comes from your loved ones.

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