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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