Sunday, May 01, 2011

Preacher's Child Syndrome and Mean Old Bullies

It's a thought that's been percolating in my mind for a long time.   It's been banging around in my head since I read of this "syndrome" in a faith-based parenting book, which, to protect the innocent, shall remain un-named.   Then, a couple of recent situations at school surrounding the issue of bullies have really had me on thought pins-and-needles.

Here's what I think . . .

First, the syndrome.  Roughly, it's this . . . . children of preacher's tend to rebel when they get the opportunity because they've been heavily led and heartily steered down a path.  Second, parents of preacher's children tend not to see faults in their own child.  For good reason.  They're so wrapped up in serving others that their own needs, families and homes fall by the wayside.  I get that.  That's the same phenomenon that made my doctor say, "gee, Elle, I haven't seen you in 12 years."  Right.  I'm so busy taking care of other people's health . . . that my own comes second.  I operate on the no-news-is-good-news philosophy.  If you don't see me, assume I'm fine.  But that doesn't work when with parenting.  It works with strep throat.  If I don't have pain, I don't go to the doctor . . but I don't think you can check out of your kids lives and assume no-news-is-good-news.  Do you?

This life and the job called motherhood is NOT a competition.  I'm certain there will always be a mommy-war between the "I works" and the "I don't works" or the "I work from home" camp and the "I work outside of home" camp.   But, in the end, we're all fighting the same battle.  We all have the same common goal . . . don't we?  Mine is to raise well balanced, kind, functional members of society.   Sure, I'd be overjoyed if I had an Olympic gymnast, a scholarship athlete, a Rhodes scholar, a biologist, an astronaut.  But, I'd be equally overjoyed to have played a part in raising a great mom, a good provider, a gardener, a maker of bags, a baker.  Whatever floats your boat.  It's not a competition.  The mom with the most kids does NOT win.   The mom with the best kids does not win.  There are no winners.  There are just days, and days, and more days.

On bullies . . . and, in my mind, how they tie in to preacher's child syndrome.   I think we mothers have to be careful.  It's easy to see fault in children that are not your own.  I don't think you can blame another child ALL THE TIME for your own child's success or failure.  I don't think it's fair to place that kind of burden squarely on the shoulders of a child.  I have trouble with it from all sides.  As the mom of MY child, I find it unthinkable for MY child to be blamed for someone else's place in the food chain.  As a mother of THE OTHER child, I find it deplorable to place blame.  And as the children, either one, I'd be horrified to think that someone else's mom was watching my every move.  Talk about putting pressure on a child.  Tisk, tisk.  I love you and you're a good kid, but I'm watching you on the playground . . . don't make a wrong move.  Can you imagine being a child . . . looking to fit in, maybe struggling . . . and having your mom hovering around you all the time.  Don't you think that's a major deterrent for forming friendships?  Most kids would gravitate away from a helicopter mom and choose NOT to befriend the kid with the parent-in-tow.  And . . . while  accusations flip through the air of my kid being bully  . . . what exactly are you accomplishing by being the adult hovering around my child, watching and reporting every move.  Is that not bullying, in a different form?   When things are wrong, wonky, off . . . . there's no weakness in looking within.   Don't YOU frequently say, "Hmm, did I do something to cause that?"  "What could I have done differently?"   I actually think that's the sign of a healthy mind.  Claim your piece of responsibility.  Admit fault.  Make it right.  Move forward.   In my humble opinion, there's no point in rehashing past crap.  No point in bringing up things of the past and beating a dead horse.  What does Rafiki say in The Lion King?  "It's in the past."   I think the right now is for preventing regrets.  I'm focusing on preventing regrets.

On to stereotyping.  Every child is different.  Even within the same family.  If one child is a hellion, you can't blanket stereotype all of the kids and blame parents.  Parenting each kid is a different ball game, a new ball of wax.  What works with one falls flat on it's face with a sibling.  I've made this mistake.  I've made it right.  I know several families that have one rough kid, one talker-backer, one behavioral issue . . and the rest of their kids are totally different.

One more thing before I climb down from my iRant.  Kids know.   I believe with all my heart that kids just know.  Most times, they know what is right.  They know how to follow their hearts.  They know to get a drink when they are thirsty and to sleep when they are tired.   Most kids know how to be a good kid.  They intuitively know how to get along with others and how to learn.  It's when we parents make something not-okay that they flip their wig.  Didn't  we all get that message loud and clear in Footloose?  Ban dancing . . . and make the kids wonder what's so fun.  In most situation, I'd don't believe the old, give them an inch, they'll take a mile.  Most times . . . give them freedom to make a choice and they'll make a good one.  Illustrate that you TRUST them to make a good choice, and they'll make an EXCELLENT one.  Show them that you'll support them completely even if they genuinely screw up, and they will live and learn and love you more.  Pick them up when they fall down.  Yes.  Allow them to make mistakes.  Big ones.  And help them recover.  I'll leave the list of don'ts left un-typed, because . . . number 1, I'm no expert . . this is just my opinion and my soapbox rant.  Number 2, I prefer to dwell in the positive.  Seek the silver lining.  I tell my own kids all the time, "don't tell me what you can't do . . . talk to me about what you can do . . . ."  

I'd be wrong to close this one with professing my undying unconditional devotion to my kids.  We've hard a hard road just recently.  One's been blamed for a shit-storm.  That's put us all on edge.  We're learning who we can trust.  Along with that, I'm learning again to be very careful.   To be a 'friend' is a job posting of high, high esteem.  It's not a job to take lightly.  There's responsibility and an unspoken code, sort of.  You don't get to talk a bunch of shit, spread lies, sprinkle hate, place blame and then go out for canolis.  I'm an all or none kind of girl.  I guess I choose none.  

I choose . . . . right now . . . to be true to myself and my kids.
I choose this again.  Today.

Given the choice, I will choose it again, and again, and again over the next hundred years.  I would rather live well with myself, grounded in my beliefs than spend a single minute fighting the mommy-war, girlfriend battle that I don't want to  (and can't) win.  Remember, I just said . . there's no winners . . . there are just days and days and more days.  I won't be wasting another one . . .

So . . . guy and girls . . . I choose you.  I trust you.  I love you.  All of you.  We'll learn together.  (xoxxo, Mom)

5 comments:

Disney Redhead said...

I'm not sure if I fully understand the part about bullies. Are you saying that the child being bullied is also partly to "blame?" Or am I reading that totally wrong?

Elle said...

NO!! I'm saying that when a parent hovers around a kid . . no matter what end they are on . . they can further alienate their kid . . . and make their kid unapproachable . . . .

And . . . bullies . . . it's a new-fad . . . . Like a few years ago when EVERYONE said, "my kid has ADHD". Now, no matter what the real story is . . . parents say, "my kid is being bullied" . . . and it makes it hard to find the kids who REALLY are being bullied . . . OR the kids who REALLY are the bullies . . .

I'm saying we parents have to be careful . . . .

Disney Redhead said...

Ah. That makes more sense.

I think there is a fine line between under-parenting and over-parenting.

Reece said...

I wish you'd publish a parenting book before my kid hits 2. Hey, I can wish.

stella said...

WOW !