Once a week I am a dorm parent to eighteen teenage boys; it is a totally fascinating experience. I watch them navigate space with their bodies and their interactions are so awkward – full of uncertainty, strength and confusion.
When I feed my daughters everything is homemade, organic and nutritious. The boys know this (I think) since when I am in their space I read books like Mindful Birthing, The Birth Partner or I sit and crochet. They usually stay clear of me; just the way my brothers stay clear of me when I drink nursing tea.
Looking up to teenage spontaneity
A few weeks ago the boys were studying for exams, so I prepared 40 of those Pillsbury instant croissants and biscuits that come out of pop out tubes. I also had carrots, almonds and juice.
Well, Pillsbury doughy goodness brought all the boys to my feet. They congregated around the table, eating with abandon and joy. Seeing this level of sheer bliss reminded me that as parents we try to control everything. I wanted to feel this freedom they were experiencing from biting into something without thinking anything. I wanted to be able to just mindfully enjoying the flavor, texture and moment of filling my stomach without thinking about nutrition or the corporation that brought me the product.
So a week later I took a big step, I bought one of those Pillsbury croissant tubes and let it sit in my refrigerator. Then a week after that, once the girls were asleep, I baked the 8 croissants, sat in my bed and ate 4 of them. It was divine! I left the other 4 for my husband who was returning late from hockey and he agreed; they were divine.
Being around these boys on a weekly basis often teaches me about letting go, about just being our awkward selves. For the most part each one of these boys are very different from each other, yet they cohabitate at such a young age and are still accepting of each other (sort of!). I often want to scoop them up and bring them home. Make them my pet sons. I know this is not a possibility but at least I get to learn from them every Sunday evening.
Becoming a Parent-Heidi Ahrens
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Surrounding Yourself with Decent people
If you are concerned that your child develops strong and positive relationships then it is important that you model this kind of dynamic. Your kids learn from you. If you go out with friends and return talking about crazy stories, unhappiness, and gossiping, your kids will think that this is a key part of friendship and time away from family. Instead, cultivate positive friendships and make sure that you are having good conversations about, as well as around, your children and your spouse.
Follow your path and bring your friends and children along
Sometimes we hold on to friends because they remind us of our crazy past, they bring drama to our lives or they uplift our seemingly boring life because their life is so much more complicated than ours; be careful! Having decent people in your life is rewarding because they will support you and remind you of your values when the going gets tough.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to dump your close long-time friends because they are dramatic or have ‘unhealthy’ lives. The main part of friendship is to be compassionate and giving. Just make sure you don’t feed their bad habits or condone their lifestyle.
Decent people, at times, may seem hard to find or slightly boring (compare to your ex-boyfriends, best girlfriend, who lives out of a shoe box, and sells macaroni necklaces for a living and is a professional pole dancer) but strong friends that support you will be the ones to lean on and be an examples to your children.
Aligning your friends with your values may take time, but stick to your commitment because if you do then you will truly feel like a part of a community that you can look at and see your own values reflecting within.
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OK! You are looking over your shoulder and thinking thoughts about that parent near the monkey bars. Filling your head with negative energy, you either criticize yourself or the parenting style being displayed.
We all have moments in which we think we shine as parents and others don’t; we also get really embarrassed by things we say to our kids or the way we act around them.
My challenge for you this week is to try out these two scenarios:
1) For one whole day act differently than you do on most days. If you are a sloppy parent that does not do dishes and leaves laundry piled around the house then clean-up and be orderly. If you are super neat and put together then go out in your sweat pants, don’t bother with a home cooked meal and don’t clean the toilet. You get the idea…
2) On another day try being the super involved parent; play Legos all day, pretend to drink tea and flutter like a fairy. If you are already that parent, drag your child to the nearest coffee shop, get a coffee, go shopping and complete your to-do list.
Remember to reflect after each exercise and see what the positive outcomes are of acting differently than you normally do and how it feels to get back to your old self.
Food for thought:
How do you think your child feels when you ask them to act differently than they are?
What do your children learn when they see you talking positively or negatively about others?
Can your child learn from you stepping out of your ‘regular’ self?
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