Parent things

Parent things

I think we can ALL agree that being a parent is HARD WORK. Like, holy cow. 

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m failing in some way, daily. I think somewhere in the depths of my mind I know I’m not actually failing, and that that feeling is fairly common, but man it really messes with you.

My husband and I are working tirelessly to help our children develop into socially aware, responsible and independent people. And while all that sounds great, I find myself forever repeating myself and *speaking* to my kids. (Of course I talk to them every day all day, but I’m talking about Speaking to them).

I find myself running on repeat all day. “If you want people to be nice to you, then you need to be nice to people too!” “You’re not helpless.” “I’m confident you’ll figure it out.” "Give it a try on your own first and see if you can figure it out." “Did you brush your teeth? Your hair?” And the list goes on. 

Somehow I learned all of these things as a kid, my husband too, but neither of us recollect our parents hammering these ideas into our heads the way I feel like I am with my kids. I’m a freakin' broken record and I don’t even know if I’m making a difference. 

I absolutely hope my children will do well academically, but my real and primary concern is that they’re just good people. That they treat others with kindness; that they can be their own person and not feel like they’re always pressured to follow the crowd; and that they feel comfortable having their own opinions and sharing them respectfully while also hearing and considering others’ opinions. Academics will come in time but in my opinion, teaching a child to be a good human is crucial. 

And yet, as an upper elementary/middle school teacher (I teach 5th but we’re located in the middle school) I also know that all the teaching in the world can’t really prepare them for their adolescence and the emotional turmoil that’s inevitable. I’ve watched the most wonderful, responsible and level headed kids get sucked into peer pressure, and questionable choices even though they knew what the right thing to do was. I’ve watched the nicest kids make fun of other kids because their friends thought it was funny, or take the role of bystander just to keep in the good graces of a more popular kid. All while knowing, deep down, these things aren’t the right things to do. 

There is no avoiding it. Our kids will face this at some point in their lives.

This is where the real struggle is. I don’t know how to teach my children to be okay with sometimes standing out on a limb alone. To stand by their values and their understanding of right or wrong regardless of the crowd around them. That's a scary thing to ask them to do because people are most comfortable in crowds and let's be honest, it can be really uncomfortable to stand up against something they don't feel is right because there's no way to know what the consequences may be. Will their friends still like them? Where will they sit at lunch if they don't? Are they going to be the target next?

There is no perfect solution. Thankfully, there's great children's literature to help us out. 

Picture books, early readers and depending on the age of your child, novels, can be a great way to to put real life situations, problems, solutions and reactions into kid friendly language. With literature, kids can see and read the scene play out before them and consider the actions, feelings, choices, and results of those choices for the characters. Books can be an excellent way to open the conversation, plug kids into such situations, and talk through how you would *hope* they respond.  

While I'm fully aware that children's literature is not the magic solution to raising wonderfully independent, self and socially aware, empathetic, respectful (this list can get really long so I'm going to cut it short here) children, I do believe it is an excellent tool to have in the parenting toolbox right along side modeling expected behaviors, long lectures, and the Golden Rule. 


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