Measuring Your Parenting Success
How do you measure success?
Does your 3 month old give you a standing ovation at the end of the day?
Does your toddler compliment you on the meal you served him for dinner?
Does your 5 year old thank you for choosing the perfect outfit for her?
Does your 10 year old acknowledge that you taught her right from wrong and show you the gratitude you deserve?
Does your 16 year old applaud you for not allowing him to go out the weekend before midterms so he is not distracted and is able to study?
I’m guessing you answered NO to the age appropriate question or questions above.
So how do we measure our success as parents? The answer… I’m not really sure. Sorry, I’m guessing you were hoping for a better answer than that.
What I do know for sure is that the answer, lies within our children. We must be patient and we must pay close attention. We must be looking for the answer in order to receive it and we must communicate with our partner while we seek it out.
Let me explain…
Erica, now 20 and our first born, recently moved out of our home that she spent the majority of her life growing up in. It wasn’t exactly the move out scenario one would imagine. I remember my own “move out experience” being about how quick I could get the hell out of there and we watched it unfold quite differently for our daughter.
You see, everything about her life was calling her to move about 40 minutes away from here. Her work, her boyfriend (who we like very much), her social circle, etc. She was spending a ton of money on gas and a ton of time in the car. She would drive to work in the morning, work all day, see her boyfriend and friends and late at night, she would drive home only to jump in the car in the morning and drive back.
Erica has always marched to the beat of her own drum (I guess that is a characteristic of everyone in this house) but I find Erica’s uniqueness particularly cute. Rather than sit at the counter in the kitchen, her spot has always been on the floor, under the arch that separates the kitchen from the dining room. This is where she colored, where she stroked a Barbie doll’s hair, where she told me about her days and where she practiced doing a split for cheerleading. To this day if she is here and I am in the kitchen, that’s where you will find her.
A few weeks ago, about 6 weeks after she had made the decision to move out, she was sitting in “her spot” while I was washing the dishes. She wasn’t packing, she wasn’t taking down her artwork, she wasn’t gathering her things. She was simply… sitting in her spot. Everything in her life was pointing towards, you’re a grown up, take the next step and there she was, sitting in her spot. That being said, NO part of me wanted to rush her to move out, but I was starting to get the sense that something was holding her back. This is not a girl who makes an impulsive decision and I was positive that she was not feeling uneasy or having second thoughts about where she would be going or the choices she was making.
Instead, she was trying to wrap her head around not living here, with us, in the home that stored her memories. And that’s when I figured it out…
We did it right! We created a beautifully warm, loving, nurturing space for her to explore who she was. We responded, instead of reacted to her questions and to her stories. We expected her to do right when it was easier to do wrong. We laughed and we cried and we yelled and we punished and we fought and we celebrated and we cooked and we washed and we folded and we cheered and we played and we hugged and life lessons were learned. She taught us some and we taught her some. Every day was not perfect. I missed back to school nights, cheerleading competitions and even birthdays sometimes due to my work as a doula. We were not perfect but we were perfectly intended. We wanted her to explore who she was and make Erica Patterson decisions! We wanted her to be true to herself, we wanted her to have top notch self esteem and we wanted her to listen to her inner voice. And that’s when it hit me… We succeeded.
It took 20 years to be completely certain but as parents… we measure up. Mission accomplished!
So remember if you like, our formula for finding the answer to this important question, how do we measure the success of our parenting….
1) Listen louder to what your children do than to what they say.
2) Pay close attention.
3) Be patient as you seek the answer. (20 years in our case)
AND (most importantly)
4) Communicate with your partner while on this journey!