Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gravitational Parenting

A recent post prompted a discussion in the comments about the appropriateness of a 14 year old getting her belly button pierced.

A typically anonymous commenter kicked it off.

"I hope you've already made the doctors appointment for the birth control because you are clearly giving her permission to grow up way too soon"

Since when do children need permission to grow up and when were parents granted the power to control it?

I think a child growing up is like Class V Rapids flowing down a mountain. You can't stop it or even slow it down.

If you try to build a dam the water will find it's way over it, around it or through it and go places you can't control.

As a parent, what you want to do is carve a channel ahead of the flow and guide the water into the course you want it to take.

Not only can you control the direction of the flow, but by judiciously widening the banks at critical points, you can calm the flow and make the waters less turbulent.

By trying to keep the banks as restricted and narrow as possible at all points, you only succeed in increasing the turbulence and violence of the water.

If you view each parent as a bank of the stream, it becomes self evident why both parents need to speak with the same voice. Doesn't matter whether you are married or divorced. When it comes to raising a child, you have to have the same destination in mind. If one of the banks is missing or takes a different course, you can't control the flow of the water.

But by letting nature take it's course down a path that you can control (by being rationally and picking your battles), it is possible to raise a sane, well behaved, intelligent young adult capable of making good decisions.


Traceytreasure said...

Well said!

I wish my dad had been there for me when I was your daughter's age.
I hope she knows how lucky she is to have you fighting for her, caring for her and loving her.
She doesn't sound like your normal, everyday teen. You really lucked out too! She sounds like a wonderful little woman!!

parenting community said...

You are so right, especially your saying that "both parents need to speak with the same voice".
I just wish this one was easy to do!

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Obviously I know nothing about parenting from the ground up so it's not for me to comment on that.

What I can say is that I've coped with the mistakes made on me and I'm trying to fix a few on a kid who's had every bad-parent-mistake made on him.

I dunno. Kids worry me.

Joe said...

"speak with the same voice" Yep, I'm on board with that one.

travel said...

A person I admire a lot once said to me, "Teach your kids how to avoid the life-changing mistakes. The rest will take care of itself."

May said...

You sound like a fucking awesome dad. Go you!

Keith Sader said...

Wait, you're not scared to death of your daughter growing up to be gasp A WOMAN!?!?

Good <deity> XO don't you know that raising a thoughtful sensible thinks-for-herself girl is tantamount to DEBIL-worship!

I'll start praying immediately for your salvation. Now where's my cuauhxicalli?

m.v. said...

nothing wrong with treating your kid as a normal person. next year piercing may not be cool anymore, but she won't think of you as an asshole. a win-win.

Stinkbait Boucher said...

You ninja bastard.

Communication, honesty, respect and boundaries. You can't really do any more than that.

Nice post by the way. And you said you didn't like poetry...

Dexter Colt said...

Were you plucked right out of the Lyceum?

You seem like a very logical and involved parent. And, I might add, I've never met a parent who gave their teenage kids permission to have sex. I know I never got the go-ahead from mom and pop.

Xavier Onassis said...

Dexter - I did not and would not give her "permission" to have sex. But the thing is, they don't seek or need permission. They are going to do it at some point and we lowly parents won't know a damn thing about it until long after the fact.

All we can do is point the 16 year old Mormon niece with a new baby and say "don't be that stupid. don't let that happen to you."

We can let them know that they can talk to us about anything, at anytime, and mean it.

There isn't anything my daughter could ask me or confess to me or tell me that would send me into a rage. She doesn't have to be afraid of me. We can calmly and rationally discuss anything.

We can also make sure our children have real, factual, solid information instead of fantasies and fairy tales.

They need to know how humans reproduce. They need to know what can prevent pregnancy and what can't.

Facts, not fantasy. Open communication, not taboo subjects. Rational discussion, not emotional rants.

Dexter Colt said...

You misread me as being accusatory. I was simply stating one of those grand observations- That I never met a parent that gave their kid(s) the green-light for sex.

It was in response the the "anonymous commenter" who "kicked it off." Guess I didn't make myself clear, but I rarely do...

Dexter Colt said...

And, I don't have kids, but if I did...I don't see anything wrong with adopting your approach.

Beautiful Mess said...

*new reader* WOW, what a great first post to read for me! We're kind of going through similar things with our 11 year old. I've always had and wanted the lines of communication wide open. I never want her to be scared to come to us for any reason. They will grow up, no matter what. We can not stop it, just hope we guided them in the correct direction. I am thankful for the opportunity to read this and take a step back and look at my parenting and hope I'm doing it "right".
Thanks, enjoy your weekend,