Look at where you've been and decide where you're going


I was traveling last week and so now I am back!

While I was gone, I was thinking a lot about directions. You know like Map Quest and Google Maps and even old fashioned regular paper maps that you can get at any rest stop along the way of major highways. It occurred to me that parenting can be a lot like selecting the right map for the job!

When our kids are little it is probably fine to select the basic road map, the one that does not include all the options or alternate routes along the way. It might be like going on Map Quest and searching for the basic route. There are probably only one or two major routes to any given destination. We may want to select the one that seems easiest and the least problematic to figure out. Kind of like a good basic parenting book about what the basic stages of development are. I think that most parents can figure this part of the journey out pretty well!

As our kids grow, I would suggest that parenting gets more complicated and so maybe we need a better map, a more sophisticated plan that lets us in on all the twists and turns that may be up ahead. Maybe this plan might be like that advanced road maps that you can search for on Google maps and maybe even further on Google earth. Google Earth lets you pinpoint a destination or location, and see that place quite clearly. Google earth is a bit scary if you ask me, because it can pinpoint any location that a satellite can spot. I am not sure that as I recall my parenting and the situations that I confronted, that I would have wanted to have everything spelled out that clearly. I might have abdicated my job and left for places unknown!

I think the best parenting practices ask us to change and adjust. Adjust to the age and stage that our children are at and seek out the best directions possible for getting through that stage well, and if along the way the plan is not working, reverse, swerve, or change directions completely. Kids are unique creatures. A plan that may have worked for one, may not work for another, or may work partly for another, but require some personal and unique features. Kind of like going on Google maps and looking for not just the right street, but the best way to get there, and where all the potholes are.

I think that as I raised my kids I thought that the basics would work for all of them. Well, in a way it did, but each one of them was and is different. Even though I have two daughters, they are not the same. It is actually so interesting to me that you can provide the same DNA and each child will still turn out differently and need different things. When you have children of different sexes, you sort of expect that, but it is still quite true with children of the same sex.

I did not have an exact road map or destination plan for each of my children. What I did have was a basic guide, sort of a highway system road map for parenting. I read a lot of books about development, I talked with other mothers and reasoned that common sense was part of parenting too, and then fine tuned the road map for each of them. One of our children needs a big plan, a big expanse of the world, one seems to need a scope that is equally as big, but has perhaps more details built in, and one seems to be a combination of the two. I didn't know who or what they would become. I did know that if I looked and listened and adjusted and course corrected as necessary, that they would be able to find the best plan for themselves and arrive on a journey that they were excited and pleased with. I was going to say happy about, but that isn't quite accurate because happiness is something different.

So, I would suggest this week that we liken our parenting to that song "Life is a highway.." Help your children find the journey and the path that works best for them, and in the process use all the tools available to select the best routes to get them there!

You never know, you may get a Cheesemonger, a Teacher and a Filmmaker!

Until next time,