“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
The moment you bring a child into the world, you enter a social contract of sorts. A mom contract, really.
You agree to love and nurture that child. You agree that, to the best of your ability, you will teach right from wrong and help that child grow into an independent and responsible adult.
You agree to accept responsibility for that child along the way, because that child is yours. Your choices, behaviors, and attitudes will shape that child as he grows.
But you also enter a village of parents. The cliché is old and well worn for good reason. It truly does take a village to raise a child. And, as responsible parents, we all have the opportunity to pitch in and help out when another parent needs a hand.
We don’t, of course, sign any such contract or truly agree to any such terms upon leaving the hospital with our tiny, helpless, bundles of joy. But wouldn’t it be great if we did? Figuratively speaking, naturally. Let’s face it; leaving the hospital requires enough paperwork as it is.
But wouldn’t it be nice of we were all on the same page with this parenting thing?
Before you jump to conclusions here, let me be clear: This isn’t about right parenting and wrong parenting. As a therapist, a parenting expert, and, most importantly, as a mom, I’m a big believer in the fact that every family is different. One-size fits all parenting simply doesn’t exist in this world.
No judgment here, mamas, we all need to find our way along this journey.
But that doesn’t preclude us from meeting somewhere in the middle.
Isn’t it possible, for instance, to say that we all need to supervise our kids while at the park or in other community venues? Is it really so wrong to expect other moms to put down that phone because your child needs you?
No, I’m not talking about missing out on the twirling of skirts or blowing of bubbles or any other Facebook graphic meant to induce mom guilt on a viral level. I’m not judging your choice to check your email or check in with a friend. Been there – done that. Moms need a break.
I’m thinking more along the lines of kids pushing other kids, teasing other kids, littering all over the park, and practically screaming out for attention…while you do whatever you’re doing over there on that park bench. Can’t we meet in the middle here and say that perhaps we should all agree to look up from our phones every few minutes or so just to be sure that our kids are behaving?
It is the job of the child to test limits. A little shoving or teasing doesn’t make a child a problem…it just means a teachable moment is hanging in the air, and it would be really great if we all decided to teach in those teachable moments.
And while we’re on the subject…what if we all agreed to teach our kids the value of kindness and empathy and that bullying and teasing are never ok? What if we simply decided that mean behavior won’t be tolerated, but that kind behavior will be praised and celebrated?
If we did that…we might actually decrease the overwhelming bullying statistics that hang over us and cause us to worry.
We could even agree to take one step further, for that matter. What if we decided to finally stop the judging/criticizing/one upping thing that tends to happen among moms sometimes? What if we simply said, “No more”, and focused on building each other up and helping each other out?
If we did that…we could model prosocial behavior for our children. We would show them, by example, that kindness is appreciated and it’s always nice to lend a hand. We could also show them that there’s no room in this world for bullying of any kind.
What if we entered this contract together and chose responsibility, kindness, respect, and empathy above all else? What if we always helped instead of hurt and always listened instead of needing to be heard? What if we became the people we would like our children to become?
If we did that…we could truly make a difference. We could raise a generation of kind-hearted, respectful, and responsible youngsters.
And if we did that…we could finally sit back and just enjoy the ride.