A few weekends ago, I was watching SNL. Miley Cyrus was hosting. I spent much of the show shaking my head in dismay and having an internal "mom"ologue that went from "What on Earth is she wearing?" to "Thank goodness I have boys!"
But then I started thinking... If I had to fit parenting in a nutshell, it would be: ensuring the health, safety and well-being of your children. It's the well-being part that hovers in the gray area, doesn't it?
How do we truly support our children's well-being? What does that entail, exactly? Does it mean we put them in a bubble and only expose them to what we believe in? Thwart some of their creative abilities and expressions because they may not be completely socially acceptable in our minds? Push them in a direction we think will make them a successful adult?
How do we really know what will make them successful adults, any way? The world that we live in now is not the world that our children will live in as adults. So, do we even know what are we preparing them for?
Yes, we need to exert discipline, which might mean thwarting some of their creative expression (biting and hitting come to mind). And there are basic responsibilities in life that we need to make expectations for our children (i.e. going to school, working their hardest, doing their best, being courteous and respectful to others, etc.)
But one element of parenting that I think we all struggle with is letting our children just be themselves. While it's natural as a parent to look at aspects of your child's personality and compare it with yours and the other parent's, our children are not our clones. Each child is an individual with a unique personality. Parents with multiple children should know that well!
How did I get all that from watching Miley Cyrus? I guess I want to recognize the fact that Miley Cyrus may be going through a bit of a rebellion stage in her life. Because she is just 21, at the very beginning of adulthood, and she's making mistakes. And that's okay. (Fortunately, for most of us, our children aren't in the spotlight so--hopefully--their mistakes won't be so public!)
And while that will lead some of you to exclaim "She has a responsibility to be a positive role model to the youth of America," because she's in the spotlight, she is still 21. I don't know about you, but when I was 21 I still thought mostly about myself and my circle of friends and didn't give too much thought to the remaining youth of America.
Again, the point that I really want to stress is that parents have a vital responsibility to make sure we are letting our children be themselves. Let their personalities shine, even if it is outside of your own comfort zone! Respect your child as an individual.
What's one unique personality trait about your child that you will value today?