I mentioned that my daughter is a humanities girl. So, after four long years of hard sciences, she is finally able to take a science class without labs. Enter psychology- soft science. Have any of your kids taken psych? Yeah…good times.
After about two weeks of psychology my daughter had already obtained a few theories. We sat at dinner one evening, and I asked her about her day. She went through her classes, so far so good in Calculus, AP Comp Gov was really interesting as they talked about the Singapore economy and she’s just read the Crazy Rich trilogy, etc. Then she got to psychology. “Hmmm. I don’t know if I should say this.” She said. Now, the minute someone says a statement like that, I have to know what the statement is. I will not sleep if I don’t know what the next thought is. So I pestered her. Finally, she relented.
“Well” she began, the look of concentration evident in her expression, “You know what you’re biggest failing as a parent is?”
My first thought was, I don’t have any failings as a parent. I’m perfect. But to be fair I asked, “No. What is my biggest failing as a parent?”
“You’re too nurturing.”
I see. My biggest flaw as a parent is that I’m too nurturing.
I let that sink in for a minute. I am not known for being warm and cuddly. When something goes wrong my favorite phrase is “Suck it up Buttercup.” When daughter was in sixth grade she played soccer. During one game she took a particularly hard hit, went flying and really scraped her face up. Instead of running onto the field to hug her I gave her a big smile and a thumbs up from the bleachers. When the game was over I took to making sure everything was clean and bought ointment. Practical. Not overly nurturing.
“How am I too nurturing?” I asked.
“Well” she started. “If I tell you this, you might stop.”
I just looked at her.
“Ok. You make my breakfast every morning. If I’m running late you make my bed for me. Really, I should be doing these things for myself”
I looked at her again. “You know, I can stop doing these things for you…I mean, if it’s damaging you as a person and all…”
She looked exasperated. “See. That’s why I didn’t want to say anything. I knew you would get all ‘I’ll stop taking care of you’ and I don’t want that. I like when you take care of me.”
I smirked. “But is it going to damage you forever?”
“Well” she began “It might eventually effect my relationships. I might have expectations that my future partner will nurture me and that might not be realistic” and she went off on exactly the things you expect a teenager to say after they’ve had twelve high school level periods in psychology.
So Parents… We can’t win. No matter what we do, our kids are going to find faults. They are going to pick apart all our actions and reactions towards them. We will always be too much, or not enough.
Here’s my parenting advice. There’s nothing we can do or see or read that will make us perfect parents. Just use your best judgement and try your hardest. And try not to overanalyze. They’re going to find something wrong no matter what we do.