Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Parenthood Reality Check: Chill Out! by Renée Cormier

It’s that time of year when families are getting their kids ready for back to school. I remember the stress of single parenting and the worry that was a natural part of raising a child with a disability. What would the school year bring? Will my children do well in school? Will they get the help they need? Will they like their teachers? Will the teachers like them? As I reflect upon my life and how I raised my children, I think I would have done a few things differently. If I could give advice to parents of young children it would be to chill out and do as follows:

Embrace your child's eccentricities: When my daughter was about ten years old she thought her school picture would look really cool if she showed a tattoo on her arm. On picture day, she licked and stuck one to her arm and didn’t let on to me that she had no intention of looking like all the other kids for her school picture. Weeks later, when I saw the proof, I was furious and refused to buy her school picture. Looking back, it was really very funny, but I saw no humour in it at the time. I regret not letting my daughter be her natural kooky self. What would have been the harm, really? Maybe if I had been more accepting of her independence when she was younger, she would have loved herself more in her teen years.

Let them get muddy: My mother never had any problem letting me splash in the mud when I was young, but I never wanted to deal with the mess and pain of trying to get the stains out of my kids’ clothes. Honestly, why was it such a big deal? Kids love mud and they usually love getting dirty. Happiness is a muddy face!
Before you freak out, weigh the importance of the issue: Single parents have no one to tag team with, so the stress of raising a family alone can be pretty intense. Whether you are single or married, however, there will always be times when you are overwhelmed by things your children do. I remember freaking out over things when my kids were young, but for the most part, I don’t remember why. That tells me I was probably over reacting to small stuff. If I could go back and redo things, I think I would try to be more relaxed and less of a drill sergeant.

Oh well; hindsight is 20/20. I was certainly not a perfect parent, but I was definitely a good mother, just the same. We all do our best with the tools in our chests. Please don’t beat yourself up over the mistakes you make. Your grandchildren will be your shot at a redo, but until then, chill out!

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