As my girls grow older, this parenting thing seems to get more and more complicated. Its funny; I used to naively think that it would actually get easier. And sure, in some ways it is. After all, at 11 and 13 I no longer have to worry about tying shoes or wiping noses or butts or meeting any of those other physical needs that make life with young children so exhausting. Thankfully, because, y’know, wiping my 13 year old’s butt make bit just a wee bit awkward for the two of us. heh.
So even though their practical physical needs are much less, the older they get, the more complicated their emotional needs. I find myself having more and more conversations with them about life, friendship and romantic relationships. Working to meet their emotional needs, and teaching them how to have healthy relationships is far more complex than wiping noses or butts ever was.
The difficulty in teaching them how to have healthy relationships is that I know CBG and I don’t always provide them with the best of examples. Sure, we try to do our best, but there are times when we come up short, as I suppose is the case with a lot of married couples. I’ll be honest…it makes me feel like a bit of a crummy parent. I don’t believe in the ‘do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do’ parenting philosophy; I try to parent by example.
And lately, the example hasn’t been all that great – from either one of us.
When I’m able to push the “I’m a kinda crummy parent” feelings aside and look at things logically, I know that this is an opportunity to teach my girls the realities of relationships. They’re not always perfect. Sometimes relationships are messy and ugly and couples hurt one another. The important part is what happens after the messy bits: the communication. Working things through. Making up. Growing stronger as a couple because of it.
One lesson I want my girls to learn, above all others, is that every mistake is an opportunity to grow, learn, and do better. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s what we do with those mistakes that demonstrate the kind of person that we are. I want my girls to be the kind of people who are able to recognize the error in their ways, apologize, self-correct and move on to better things.
And if that’s the kind of people I want them to be, then that’s the example they need to be provided with. From both their parents.