In my mind, it’s felt like I’ve been a mom forever. My children (two teenagers and one starting middle school), are the best things in my life, and I enjoy watching them grow up. Many times, my patience and understanding are tested because nobody gave me an instruction manual. That reminds me of what my grandmother used to say to my mom when there would ever be a misunderstanding: “Sweetheart, life is wonderful, and every day you will work on trying to be a better listener than a talker…”
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to seventeen years ago when I was happily pregnant with my twins. One day, I was waiting for my gynecologist to arrive to do a follow-up ultrasound, when a nurse approached me and acted as a fortune-teller. She gave me an endless number of details of what the future would be like for me…
She said, “Let me tell you something Ms. Pachter. Many mornings in my house there’s no time to eat breakfast, and of course forget about the kiss before going to school. Everyone is in such a rush because my kids sleep in past their alarm. Be prepared, because one day the kids will suddenly stop talking to their parents. Actually, scratch that and remember many won’t talk to anybody at all from the ages of 13 to 19! Anyway, every day I can see them looking forward to coming home and just relaxing, but I always have to do my daily mom “interrogation”- How was your day? Did you arrive on time to your school this morning? Who did you have lunch with? Did you learn anything new? Why didn’t you clean the kitchen this morning? Curiously, they always give the same answers- “Fine.” “Yes.” “No.” “When I left I thought it was clean.”
But that’s not all... Because I usually end up raising my voice saying, “Please do not walk into the house with your shoes on!” I also noticed that my kids don’t feel the need to make eye contact when speaking. You have to be prepared to feel your heart breaking into a thousand pieces, because there will come a day when they will be talking to their friends saying. “I just cannot wait for college!”
This woman who up until then was just my wonderful nurse at the gynecologist’s office quickly became “the witch of the breakdowns!”
After scaring myself considerably, I was determined to find a solution to my future maternity.... Many times, it’s extremely difficult for teens to communicate their needs and feelings to Mom or Dad, especially verbally. So, I realized a simple thing; we have to email or text them! And you know what? It works!
All I can say from my experience is that kids and parents cohabitate together, but they are often on very different wavelengths. However, with a few adjustments, every situation can be greatly improved. We help our children too easily and we risk very little, hindering our children from learning to deal with loss and pain. Sometimes it gives me the feeling that we look at our children through their biological age, but not their emotional age. By doing this, we do not allow them to fail, and without failure, they will never learn.
As a mother, professional, and also as an observer of the world, I think that as parents we help our children too much and prevent them from taking risks; our interfearance stunts their growth in more ways than we can see at the time. However, if we allow them to take more risks, to fail, we give them the opportunity to grow, learn, and gain self-esteem. Sometimes we see ourselves negotiating with the parents of our children's friends, with teachers about their grades, or coaches about our kids’ sports. This really shakes me because our duty as parents is to prepare our children for the ways of the world, not to shield them from all pain. While the urge to protect them is there, it is in the best interest of us both to fight it!
There’s evidence that the benefits of being kind and patient with our children may make them grow up in a beautiful and deeper way. That is, children prolong and deepen their emotional response to positive moments, appreciating things such as a the warmth of home, comfort, or conversations with their parents. But this does not mean, they should not have to deal with pain and suffering. If they don’t, feel the bad how would they ever be able to differentiate from the good!
From the outside, sometimes it seems easier to empathize with others and to share feelings, but parents and kids each have their own stresses. It’s awesome to find the benefit of sharing our feelings, “seeing the other side of the coin”.
I'd like to end with my grandmother’s thoughts, she often said to me: “My sweetheart, to have the window wide open first you have to be prepared to see everything that’s out there…”
Let's do it!