Our children’s lives are in our hands...
by Carolyn Widman, Sierra County Child Abuse Prevention Council
Parenting brings joy into your life.
OK, well, maybe not always. How about this: it brings intestinal fortitude, perseverance, responsibility, and heart ache (and sometimes heart burn). It forces us to grow as human beings; and we all know that “growing pains” hurt. To agree to be responsible for this other person – for 18 plus years – is to take on a profound commitment that truly never ends. If your child was planned, then good for you. You thought you could do this parenting thing. After all your parents did it, and didn’t you just turn out fine! (Ahem.) If your child was not planned, but you decided that you needed to be responsible for your actions, then good for you. Children are a gift…it just doesn’t always seem like it. However, our attitude as parents deeply impact our children: the immediacy of their sense of safety; their sense of themselves and who they are in the world; their sense of decency towards others. If you want your child to respect you, you must role model what that looks like by respecting yourself, and them. If you want your child to listen to you, listen to them. If you want them to keep their cool, keep yours. Children reflect our behaviors – and not just the polite, nice ones. (Shoot!)
Pre-determining our goals and values with our co-parent is a conversation many couples fail to have. As a single parent, you are not off the hook – you need to really think about what you believe in, what you stand for, what is acceptable behavior in your household; and then set the rules to ensure that occurs. Consistency in applying and enforcing those values, to reach those goals, is difficult and time consuming. However, it is the only way to ensure success (remember: “good things come to those who wait” ). Doubting ourselves along the way is a natural response to being in charge. With a heavy dose of unconditional love thrown in, you can recover from most situations. Will you make mistakes? Count on it! Will you forgive yourself, and tell those you have hurt that you are sorry? You will if you want your child to learn about forgiveness, admitting mistakes, and owning your own behavior. (That role-modeling thing comes in to play every time! “Do as I say, and not as I do” really doesn’t work.)
Each year in April, communities across the country recognize local efforts of Child Abuse Prevention. Celebrating 25 years of service in the county, Sierra County Child Abuse Council provides the local Family Resource Center in Loyalton, and is known as “High Sierras Family Services.” A variety of services is undertaken by this small non-profit corporation, all of which enhance and strengthen local families. For many, just to have a place to come in and chat about what is going on with them, and get someone else’s perspective on it, has helped to alleviate some of the stresses faced by a parent. For those considering adding to their family unit through the process of adoption, staff at the Resource Center can help you navigate that process, and put you in touch with others who have stepped on to that higher road.
Parenting is the hardest job you will ever love. It humbles you, frustrates you, and for most, you wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Bottom line: if you are a parent, you have learned how to laugh at yourself… a lot. And our survival – both of the species and as an individual – is dependent on that well developed sense of humor. Keep smiling; it is one of a few contagious experiences we should spread daily. And just think: you are role modeling it for your kids.
Open House on Thursday, April 18 from 1-5