Parenting me (part II of Parenting Upstream)

A few weeks ago many of you shared your experiences with what I called parenting upstream.  You know, my futile attempts to nurture against nature.   With each new visitor comment I had a new theory.

Maybe all first-borns are CZD (“comfort zone dwellers”) and all second-borns are “daredevils”?  Nope, my own siblings negate that one.  Maybe all boys are the CZD and all girls are the daredevils.  Nope, we’ve got some boy daredevils in the mix.  Can’t really chalk it up to astrology, since my kids are the same sign.

So I have no theories as to why our kids are like this and definitely no answers as to how to parent either group.

However I did notice something really interesting.  Everyone seems to worry more about the one who is like them.  Are you a daredevil wild child?  I bet you sigh and wonder how you are going to ever get a handle this crazy mini-me.  Or are you the reserved one?  I bet you spend more time wondering how to pull this little one out of her shell more than you worry about the wild one.  In fact  you might even celebrate the wild one’s exuberance.

Ian worries a lot about our son.  He loves how smart Gavin is, but he doesn’t want him to always dwell in his head, to miss out on life in the ways Ian thinks he did. “Go for it,” he telepathically tries to encourage Gavin, “the world isn’t going to bite.”

I worry about Chloe.  I love how bold and fearless she is, but I don’t want her to just power through life and possibly make the same mistakes I did, especially believing you can do it all with no sacrifice.  “Slow down and enjoy the quiet moments,” I wish when I look at her.

If you worry about the one who is “like you”, it is because we know so intimately the struggles they will have to endure.  It’s a parent’s instinct to protect their child from harm.  It’s an adult’s perspective that gives us the experience of a hard lesson learned.  The balance between the two is the biggest challenge.  We can teach, we can show, we can warn but in the end each person – mother, daughter, father or son – has their own path and we need to respect that.

I was the wild child and I can already see Chloe doing this in a few years:

This is me in the 80s jumping off a Central Park playground

Playgrounds, the gateway drug to cliff jumping…

This is me jumping off a cliff in Maui. Twenty years later and all that's changed is the height of the things of which I jump off. Seriously, I pretty much have the same exact pose, don't I?

Instead of worrying about the lessons I know both my children will have to learn, I know I need to support them just being them. To gently guide without forcing a specific direction or result.

So I anticipate a lot of holding my breath as she explores the playground, a lot of sleepless nights as she navigates the teen years, and a lot of tears as she struggles with her identity.  And I forever wish that her path in life is smoother than mine…


The best consolation about her following in my footsteps is knowing she'll meet a man as awesome as her dad


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11 thoughts on “Parenting me (part II of Parenting Upstream)

  1. You are so right! I worry more about Sadie because she is like me!! Actually, Jeff worries more about her because she is like me too, but he can leave his own comment. Great point. What’s so bad about me that I need to worry?????? Don’t answer that. Great post.

  2. Yep. Totally don’t want my son to be like me. And he is. And my husband and I are a lot alike so he has a double whammy. But, I can say this only because I don’t have this experience, I think I would worry more about a child who is shy and reserved than one who is not. I missed out on a lot of things because of being shy and I don’t want my kids to. I want them to get out there and live. Your husband is right.

    • I understand. I don’t want my son to miss out on anything either. But I do really appreciate his thoughtful and deliberate nature. I love that he appears to be “above the fray” (like on Halloween – He does things, but he does them in his own time. And I know there will be missed opportunities but I believe he will have a comfort in his strengths and in his process that should be heralded.

      I worry more about my daughter because I fear, like me, she will railroad life. That she will think she has it all figured out, that she’s in control, only to have the rug pulled out from her. And eventually learn the painful lesson about the value of being STILL and not always so careless spontaneous. In my case, being willing to do everything means you never really find the beauty in one thing. So, I worry more about her…

  3. I have a similar picture of me jumping off a cliff in Door County. Makes me want to go find it! I also jumped off a cliff in Fiji, but of course my loser ex-husband didn’t take a picture of that one. Where was that cliff in Maui? Because I’m going in four weeks (ah!) and would love to go there.

    Also, great post otherwise. Sorry to be so focused on the crazy cliff jumping :)

    • Ahhh Maui is amazing. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. I’m not sure what it would be like with a child (we went 5 years ago), but what made the experience top notch for us were all the off the beaten track adventures we took. Maui Revealed is an amazing guidebook for that.

      This particular cliff was at the Seven Sacred Pools along the road to Hana. I would NOT recommend it, though many people go there. It was so crowded and touristy – not what we were looking for. In fact I walked in and said “the only thing that is going to make this stop worthwhile is if I jump off that cliff”. I didn’t have to worry about Ian missing the shot – I must have jumped at least 30 times (I always admit to being an adrenaline junkie).

      PS – save up all your money for dinner at Spago at the Four Seasons. It is other worldly.

  4. Yep, I think you nailed it. My husband and son are SO much alike and he worries non-stop about some of their shared qualities. It is so hard to ride that line of parenting at a comfortable enough distance that they are still free to grow in to whoever they truly are or will be. I don’t know if there is a way to look at your child and not want to desperately save them from suffering a similar hardship that you went through. This parenting stuff is no joke! More layers than an onion and will make you cry just the same – haha! I love the pictures of you jumping off things – so awesome! And the one of your husband and daughter – perfect. Great post!

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