As my son stomped out of the house this morning in a full-blown rage, with the only provocation being told he had to go to school, I couldn’t help but wonder what part of this growing personality is mine? What part did I plant in him in infancy and feed and water and nurture until it grew into this frightening monster that appears from time to time? I get so discouraged when I see my kids do things or hear things coming out of their mouth that I know came from me. And I think, “Oh, I’ve cursed them – they’re doomed.” On the other hand they will do something wonderful and helpful and I think, “Yea! They’re learning. We’re getting something right!” But as I see all of the very different personalities of my children, who are all raised differently, but by the same two people, I wonder if I have anything to do with it at all. And I know I do, but how much? How much of my son’s explosive tantrum this morning was my responsibility? It’s the whole Nature vs. Nurture question. And it’s a question I struggle with constantly.
At what point do you say to your child “I’m sorry you’re struggling with this. I hope you can figure something out,” and at what point do you assume responsibility and do everything in your power to fix the situation? Sometimes I feel that I am not expressing enough love to my family, so I cook. I make pancakes for breakfast, veggie platters for afterschool snacks, a feast for dinner with an ice cream covered dessert. I do most of the dishes because I don’t want them to be put out and I pick up after them constantly just so they won’t have to hear my nagging voice. They just get grumpier and grumpier and I get more and more frustrated, so the goodies subside and the jobs increase and everyone seems happier after a few days of complaining about the job increase, and then it all starts falling apart again.
We make a million decisions in our lifetimes regarding our children. The things we do with them; when to push and when to let it go; what to encourage or discourage; when to fix it and when to let them learn how to cope. All these decisions have an impact on the development of these little people, their memories and sense of self-worth. It seems there are endless amounts of worry in child-rearing. In the end, what really counts? In the end, how much is my responsibility? and how much is my child’s? And do I really care how much is mine or his when I just want him to be happy? But you can’t make a person happy – it’s a personal choice. But am I doing everything I can to help make that choice just a little bit easier for them, or a little more natural? And is all of this just a matter of not getting enough sleep?
Does anybody really ever really figure this stuff out? Or do you just get through it? And if it’s just a matter of “getting through”, is that really how I want to live my life, and how I want to teach my children to live? It seems like there must be a better way. I’m truly grateful I have as many kids as I do because I hope I will finally be the parent I want to be by the last one. Djeryd, you have my sincerest condolences and appreciation for blazing the “childhood trail” in our home.