A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Parenting Against Your Nature

I'm generally not a very structured person. I like flexibility; I like change; I like spontaneity. I'm one of those people who wants to wake up every day and go do something new. When I was a child, I rearranged my room at least once a month for the novelty of it. Rules have always been more like suggestions (not laws - I'm a stickler for laws); if I know why the rule was set and those conditions don't apply, why bother? I live in a world with many shades of grey - people and ideas deserve unique consideration according to their circumstances. Grace and love are my guiding principles - I don't judge others harshly (myself, yes - I judge myself VERY harshly), but recognize that everyone is different and it's okay to be that way.

But parenting the teenlet well, means I have to be structured. We set the house rules and never break them. When I say no, he won't ever get a yes out of me (doesn't mean he doesn't try!). When he was younger, even a rearranged room would upset him ("Mommy, you rearranged the furniture! My perfect life is RUINED!" age 3). Oh yes, we've had our moments of "Let's go do X" - and he has learned to adapt and transition in those times quite well. But, even with all of mommy's hugs and reassurances, he still has to learn the lessons of life. And I know that, as much as I'd love to cushion the fall for him, he needs to feel the impact of his decisions. NOW, when they are still small. Because as he gets older, stupid decisions have greater implications. I have to allow him to make his mistakes and learn from them, even when it would be so easy for me to make excuses for late schoolwork, try to patch things up for him with his friends after an argument, or clean up his messes. That would be easier for me, for sure - I hate seeing him suffer through the consequences of his actions. But he needs to learn these things now. It's so easy to fix things in the name of love - but is it really loving to never give him the chance to learn from his mistakes?

It's oppressive to have to parent in a way against which your own nature rebels. It's worse for me than for him. He gets his security blanket of knowing what is expected, and what to expect. I get wrapped up tight and can't breathe. I get stuck in a drudging routine like a car stuck in mud - wheels spinning but can't get traction. Everything slows down. Boredom. Routine. Blah. I have to seek out ways to find newness and refreshment at the same time I am being the hard-nosed, structured parent. He needs that parent, and that parent needs freedom, independence, and flexibility.

As he is getting older, I can let the structure go a little more (whew!). As he learns responsibility, he gets more freedom. And so do I. There are still times when I have to lock-down tight, allowing the teenlet to learn his lessons on his own. But he is learning those lessons, and each time he does the world opens up a little more. For both of us.

I might even rearrange a room.

1 comment:

  1. I am by nature a quiet, solitary person. My daughter is loud, daring, and outgoing. She needs lots of social interaction - lots more than makes me comfortable. She also needs to hear noise and to make noise, and to run - lots and lots of running. It has been a challenge, but I feel like most of the time I put her needs first since I'm the adult and the one who can adapt. She really pushes me out of my comfort zone, which is good for me, too.