What Parenting is Not

There are studies, many of them poor, some may be worthwhile, that focus on various aspects of parenting.  What I have learned after 20 plus years as a child and family counselor, and as the mother of two teen agers, is that parenting is more about what it’s not.  Like romantic love or marriage, there are many ill conceived and misguided stereotypes and myths about parenting and it’s hard to cut that away and see what is what.  Parenting isn’t happiness, it’s not pretty and sweet and light.  It’s often messy, it can get pretty dark and truly painful physically and emotionally.  That makes sense though, because when you open yourself up to someone completely, in a selfless giving way, you are vulnerable to feel all the bad as well as the good.  Parenting is not biological, it’s not about sex or gender, families are so much more and they always have been.  With grandparents raising grandkids, and single parents, and two parents of the same gender.  Now there are more positive images of those families of all shapes and sizes out there for people to see.  There are many things that parents do for children, there’s nothing in fact that a parent wouldn’t do for a child, that cliche I think is true.  What the parent chooses not to do, that is what people don’t know about and that can be much harder.  I’m not going to pick you up this time when you fall.  When you step back as a parent to let them fail, or let them make a choice and take a hit, especially when you can see it coming, that is difficult.  As parents what you don’t do, where you choose not to insert yourself, what parenting is not is just as hard and sometimes harder than what it is.

3 thoughts on “What Parenting is Not

  1. This one has always been a tough one for me to follow. I try, but I don’t always succeed at stepping back when I should.


  2. So true for me as well ! It’s a constant balancing act, for every parent. And there are times when you will go too far in one direction or another, like driving. Overcorrect, back to center, checking your mirrors, juggling all of it and staying aware without being hyper vigilant and just trying to stay on task even when the direction or destination changes. It’s exhausting and exhilarating, because you know you will cover some familiar ground from time to time but there are places you will end up that you never even imagined (good and bad 😉


    1. I like your driving analogy! It’s just too bad that I don’t always know when I’m screwing up until I’m skidding on the ice. 😉


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