My fifth-grade son saw “the movie” in school last week, and as we were discussing this new knowledge he has, I realize (in between longing for those easy days when he was a toddler and wishing that I had a glass of wine), I’ve been given an opportunity to shape his future. Because that’s what parents do, that’s our job, to create productive adults. But I’ve also noted before that this parenting thing is hard because we don’t have a manual … or do we?
Maybe we need to change our idea of what it means to actually have a parenting manual.
Because truthfully, we’ve all been children. We know how we were parented, and we know how we wish we had been parented. And as I told my boy “My parents never gave me this information, but I want to make sure that you know you can ask me any questions you have about this,” I realized that I have the parenting manual I need, there in my head. Kind of like an e-book, except for it doesn’t exist on a computer or an e-reader, it’s just my beliefs, my morals, my desires for my kids.
So when he asks me the tough questions—the ones that I don’t want him to ask and I sure as heck don’t want to have to answer—what I really need to keep in mind is what I want him to take away from the situation. What’s important to me, to our family? Because if I don’t tell him that, if we don’t build that foundation at home, where will it come from? I want both of my kids to go into the world armed with the best information I can give them, to be as prepared as I can help them to be. They’ll have to learn some things on their own, sure, but I want to do my job as the mom, too.
I know it’s not that easy, and there are plenty of parenting challenges that take more effort than this, but I think that often, we don’t give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. Trust the information that you have—if you’ve survived your own childhood, I think that has to give you at least a little bit of an edge when it comes to parenting.
And now, I’ve got to go prepare myself for another tough question about the birds and the bees. I hope I’ve got enough wine.