There were a lot of “Me Too” posts going around on Facebook recently and the ones of you who know what it’s all about might agree with me how surprising it was to see the many, many me too’s. For the few of you who might have missed it and have no clue what it is about: It’s about basically putting your hand up if you have ever been sexually assaulted in any way. I had a “me too” to put up as well. I admit my assault is most likely one to simply brush off and yet it crossed a line big time. It was “only” verbally but I still feel sick when thinking about it. I can only imagine how it must feel when you are “properly” assaulted.
In the entire series of “me too” posts I’ve seen one stood out for me. It was the post of one of my newly found friends who shared her thoughts about the responsibility we have as mothers to make sure our sons will not turn into the reason why a woman would say “me too”. She wrote about the responsibility we have to make sure our boys understand where the line is and also that it’s their responsibility as well to protect girls and stand up for them if necessary.
So the responsibility is in our hands. Not only to teach our daughters to stand up for and how to protect themselves but also to teach our sons to be respectful and protective of the girls in their lives. It’s about needing and wanting to the the right thing. Always. So I’d like to express some thoughts I have put out there a couple of months ago about what keeps me on my toes as a parent. But also about all the things influencing our kids and constantly leaving marks. Marks that often need to be addressed but also as often might not even been discovered for way too long.
I follow a lot of Mommy blogs. And Daddy blogs. Hi there, Eric. Now I only mention Eric here because this post is sort of triggered by one he shared the other day. Sometimes a thought leads to another and then that thought leads to a post (in case you haven’t realized it yet…)
When reading the post of the other mommies or daddies I often find we have one thing in common: Wanting to do everything right.
Parenting means a huge change in our lifestyle. Nothing will ever be the same again. We can sort of get close to what we used to do but there will always be someone else alongside of us. What we have experienced as a child will now be experienced from the other side of the spectrum. The worries, the pressure, the joy, the short temper, the rules and the attempts to not have to follow the rules. We’ve been there before, just on the other side and often we have this sort of déjà-vu. We act the way our parents have, we use the same phrases they might have used and we turn into those annoying old people constantly saying no to the fun stuff…
And yet we still feel like we are the same person we used to be when we were children…
That person is still there. This inner child is still here and maybe we even manage to let him or her out on occasion. Maybe even with the kids around. Having a fun time, goofing off. What will always be there though is the worry that we do the right thing. Always.
Do we raise our children right? Do we teach them the right values? Will they turn out right? Will they be good people?
“However, sometimes I feel like Obi Wan believing in the good of a little boy named Anakin. We all know how that turned out. Even if he was good in the end, there was so much destruction to get to the end. The (only) difference between Obi and I though is that I don’t know how my boys will turn out. I can only continue the struggle, lead by example, and do what we parents do – keep up the good fight.” – All In A Dad’s Work
I believe in the good in my children. Always. I seriously don’t question it. There are moments of course where I get cross. Cross because they nag at each other or they are what I consider unfair to each other. We all know those kind of games. One says or does something which ticks the other one off. Suddenly out of the blue a mini world war erupts and a tiny hell breaks lose. You know, that moment you look at them and wonder what just happened while trying hard not to want to shake them hard…
It seems to be one of the things that are global in regards to parenting.One of the issues all of us face. So let us have a moment here and nod in a very understanding manner…
I still believe they are good kids even if I wonder for a little moment if they will ever understand how silly their behavior just was. But then I’m pretty sure that a mother or a father of a serial killer also always believed in the good of their child… As parents we should be wired like this. Right? We should always believe in the good in our children. If we don’t then who does?
So what happens? When does it happen? And how can we make sure that it doesn’t go bad?
I wonder how it looks like if you turn it around. And by that I don’t mean believing in the bad. I wonder actually how it looks like experienced by our kids. In a way we should know, right? Because we’ve all been there, only just a couple of years ago.
We should know how uplifting it feels to know that your parents always see the good in you, even if you do something wrong. How good it feels to know that they always support you, even if things don’t go the way you all expected them to go. We should know that, no matter what we do, our parents will always love us. They will always see the good in us.
But did we really see this in that light when we were kids? And more importantly, did we believe in the good in us?
We know that we are not always convinced that we did it right. We know that we are not always sure that we are good. Growing up is hard. Failing and running into walls is hard. Fighting whatever fight you think you have to fight while in puberty is hard. And sometimes it makes you feel like you are an idiot. Sometimes it makes you feel as if you can’t do anything right. Sometimes it makes you feel that you are not good enough for anything. Sometimes the way you approach things is just not right. And yet you so desperately want to do the right thing.
It hurts when you’re told that what you do is not right, that you are simply not good enough. It puts so much pressure on you because you so want to prove that you are. You so want to please…
I believe that some people just give up. Crack under the pressure.
They give up believing in the good in them because they know that they tried to do everything right but they didn’t manage to. Or they were told that it wasn’t right. Not enough effort, not the right way, not the way it’s supposed to be done. Over and over again. Until it sticks. Until they believe that whatever they do will turn out as not good enough. No matter how hard they try, no matter how close or good it ends up being, it’s not good enough for someone. At one point or the other they get handed the final straw. They break. The confidence is at its lowest and maybe they start acting overly confident to mask it. Maybe it’s then when they turn in not good people. Because it’s what they believe they are. It’s what they were taught they are.
As a mom I have to responsibility to teach my children that they are good enough. No matter what they do. I need to teach them that they can believe in themselves, no matter who else believes in them. I have to make them understand that it’s not important what others think as long as they know they did the best they could.
I need to teach them that being good doesn’t mean being in a competition with others. The competition is in you. I need to teach them that being good enough should have nothing to do with pressure. It should be inspiring and uplifting and motivating. It should make you feel happy and not sad.
I want my children to know that they are good enough and not crave for someone to tell them constantly. I know how hard it is and I know how much it will influence who they are in the future. I know what an impact on your confidence it can have. And I don’t want my children to experience the same thing.
Time to panic slightly, because, hey, remember, there is no manual to this gig called parenting!
So where do I start? How do I make them believe that doing wanting to do the right thing is already good? That managing to do the right thing is not easy and is also not entirely up to them? How can I make them realize that they are good enough all the time without getting them to the point where they just hang back and not push hard anymore? How can I get them to try their best because they want do it right without making them feel under too much pressure?
There is such a fine line…
I think all we can do is simply “do”. Believe in the good in us. Believe in the good in our children. Believe that we can do it right and that they will be able to do it right. And cut us some slack. It takes time. We need to learn. Always. And we make mistakes. All of us. Learn from them and don’t overrate them. And keep going.
And for everyone who tries to tell you that you are not good enough, no matter who it is: Get lost and clean up your own act.