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Island Parenting: A State Of Equilibrium Does Not Exist When One Has Children

Opinion / Virgin Islands / August 10, 2016

Do you ever realize how casually we throw around the following words, “Don’t worry, that project or task is in great hands, I am going to give it 100% of my attention.” Do you realize that even as parents we remark, “Parenting is top priority, I give my children 100% of my time and attention.” The question is, “Do we really?” Let me reiterate, the question is, “Even if we try, are we being truthful when we make this remark?” Let me ask, “If this is the case then where does everything else in your life fall. I also ask, “Where do you, your needs or your welfare fall?” These are just questions.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that when we say these things our hearts and our intentions are in the right place because we really want to do our very best. We want to give our very best to our families/relationships/friendships. We want to give our very best to our careers. We want to give our very best to our communities, the initiatives and organizations to which we belong. Most importantly, we want to give our very best to our children. Although it may be a stretch because many of us were raised to think that parenting is the ultimate sacrifice, some of us may not admit it, but also want to give the best to ourselves. We need to take care of ourselves as well so that we may be healthy enough to take care of others.

Giving our best in our minds may mean giving 100% because this is the platinum not the gold but rather the platinum standard. But do we realize that 100% is in fact the whole pie. Several 100%’s don’t exist. I don’t think it is possible, especially when you are a parent, to give 100% to your family/relationships/friendships, careers, volunteerism or even your children. This is a highly unrealistic expectation. There is only just the one, 100%, and this means that at times, that is unless you are a ‘wonder person’ some areas will get more of your ‘best’ than the others and the truth is, well for me at least, you have to be comfortable with this reality.

I think that one has to realize that a state of equilibrium does not exist when one has children. Parenting is a complete paradigm shift. It will take up a considerable amount of your pie. One’s relationships, interests, obligations and even one’s career may be altered. Your time is no longer your own. Time instead becomes a coveted, precious and well-guarded commodity. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Just do your best. I always refer to the IKEA advertisement of the woman who does it all. Don’t buy into this image that is unless you have several clones. She doesn’t exist. Please forgive yourself and stop trying to achieve balance but rather try to prioritize the areas of importance in your pie, because each area cannot get 100%. This is simply impossible.

A friend sent me a flyer titled “The Four C’s of Parenting.” She noted its origin as Northwestern University. I have it printed and placed in my daily journal and I whip it out every so often as reminder of the kind of parent that I am trying to be, I thought that it was worth sharing. Here is:

The Four C’s of Parenting – Northwestern University

Choices

Providing your child with choices that fit reasonable constraints allows her to practice decision-making and build a sense of autonomy and growing independence. But you must remain firm about what options are available. An example: You can either choose to clean your room before you go out and play, or you can clean your room after you play, but will have to come in 30 minutes earlier. What will you like to do?” You have given her the opportunity to choose how she will complete the work, but within limits that are acceptable to you.

Consequences

Consequences can either be good or bad but it is important that your child grasp that consequences are a result of his choices. Providing consequences that make sense will allow your child to understand how choices will influence outcomes. For example you can either choose to speak respectfully right now or you will have to take some time in your room.”

Consistency

Mean what you say and say what you mean. This principle helps young people gain a stable sense of how to interact with other people. Although your child may encounter people who may be behaviorally inconsistent with her, she needs you to offer the kind of consistency that creates a positive standard. It will support disciplinary action when she knows you mean what you say. Note: Parents should always be on the same page.

Care

No matter what you do, your child must feel that you are acting out of love. It is important to remind him that you are acting because you love and care for him, especially in moments of conflict. A good example is, “I would not be a good mom if I allowed you to think that it is ok to hit other children.”

Gentle Reminder for the Parent

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Anne Lamott

“Practice simple parenting meaning fewer toys, fewer stuff, spend time together, unclutter your schedule, provide comfort and reliability with routines, teach responsibility with chores, filter their environment and protect their innocence, be the example you want them to emulate, always have your heart and arms wide open.” Unknown

“Yelling at a bud won’t make it bloom. Speak gently to your children.” Unknown

Words of Encouragement from the Parent to the Child

“Your speed doesn’t matter. Forward is forward.” Unknown

“Chase after excellence and success will follow you.” Unknown

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” Unknown

Recommended Reading for Children

But it’s Not My Fault written by Julia Cook, Illustrated by Anita DuFalla

I Am Not Scared…I’m Prepared written by Julia Cook, Illustrated by Michelle Hazelwood -Hyde

I Can’t Believe You Said That! : My Story About Using My Social Filter…or Not! (Best Me I Can Be) written by Julia Cook, Illustrated by Kelsey De Weerd

Sorry, I Forgot to Ask! : My Story about Asking Permission and Making an Apology (Best Me I Can Be) written by Julia Cook, Illustrated by Kelsey De Weerd

Tease Monster: A Book about Teasing vs Bullying (Building Relationships) written by Julia Cook, Illustrated by Anita DuFalla

Recommended Reading for the Parent

Emotionally Intelligent Parenting-How to Raise a Self-Disciplined, Responsible, Socially Skilled Child by Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., Steven E. Tobias, Psy.D., and Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D.

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Mutryce Williams
Mutryce A. Williams is a native of St. Kitts and Nevis who resides in Frederiksted. She is a mother, writer, social commentator, advocate, columnist, educator, cultural conservationist, poet, artist, former diplomat, certified homeland protection professional and volunteer extraordinaire. Ms. Mutryce is an international relations and national security specialist who holds a doctorate in public policy administration with a double concentration in terrorism, mediation and peace and homeland security policy and coordination.




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