What’s your mettle?
Our Tuesdays are now sponsored by La Scuola school. Please take a look at their site at www.reggioinspired.com and give them a call at (305) 278-9555.
Tuesday we discuss kids and kid stuff. We discuss parenting and how Motherhood and Fatherhood are a relationship unlike many others. We discuss children and their development. But we tend to steer away from talking about when kids deal with adversity. We, as parents, want to believe that hardship is exclusively dealt to and handled by adults. This could not be farther from the truth. We shield our children from the boogey man of reality only to find the bastard snuck in through there window when we weren’t looking. Adversity is a reality for children. The only thing that is left to ask a parent is: What is your mettle?
Lee says: I grew up in a weird household. My parents were both there. They both worked very hard outside the home. My parents would take us (I always refer to us because I was always with my big sister, Aidi) to work or provide a nanny so we were never alone. My parents didn’t let us go outside much and I did served as a chaperone to my sister when she began dating. We were sheltered to the point that my father would tell us to shut our eyes if a couple kissed on the big screen. Let’s forget the fact that the subject matter and rating of said films were probably grossly inappropriate for us (Exorcism?). My parents were micro-managing worrywarts who wanted to control all input of information.
What they couldn’t shield us from was the ups and downs of life. Try as they might, sadness, tragedy, nastiness and fear did reach us, from death to someone trying to break into our home through our bedroom window to family tension to threatened kidnapping by a family member to financial woes …and on and on. My parents had a very weird way of dealing with stress. My parents are on average, anxious people. Stress was normal for them and adversity just amounted to varying levels of stress. The more crap the world threw at them the more they seemed to enjoy it. They worked very hard and also partied hard. It was only until recently that I realized my parents were major workaholics, thrived on drama and had taught me (and my siblings) to do the same.
One thing as parents that we are honor bound to do for our children is teach them resilience. Shielding children from pain is impossible but teaching them how to deal with hurt is not. We need to sit them down and get them use to expressing their feelings. We need to get them use to strategizing and problem solving on their own. If Mom and Dad always fix their messes then they will never figure out this all-important skill-set. We need to allow them to fail, get hurt, make mistakes and flub their recovery. This all builds resilience.
A decade ago, everything was about resilience. We were told to create resilient children and how resilience was the leading reason why some children who lived through trauma were successful and others who had experienced a lesser trauma were not. Resilience is a positive capacity to deal with stress and said capacity is both learned and innate. However, as a parent, you can see how modeling dealing with stress in a healthy manner is paramount to creating a resilient child.
So the bottom line as a parent is what is your mettle? I choose to be something malleable and harden upon certain threats. I know it’s not that kind of mettle but the tensile strength of a parent’s resolve is what matters.
Paul says: On the positive side of dysfunction, I have no clue what adversity is since my parents had a kind of constant background noise of adversity. Job loss and spoiled milk had pretty much the same level in the ‘Oh my God!’ factor. Whether this was brilliant preplanned parenting or not, the end result is that I weather all adversity about the same. I go to the extremely practical with more than a little out-of-body shock.
The milk is bad? By more milk. Dog dead? Get a new dog. O.K., so this is not the best way to deal with stuff. This is why I have Lee to teach them to emote. Between the two of us, Mr. Fluffy gets buried and mourned.