They say “adulting” is hard. Well, I say try parenting. I’m sure we all got scared – after being ecstatic – when the fact that we will be parents first sunk in. I think our fear was warranted; after all, who wouldn’t freak out after learning that we’ll be responsible for the life of another human being, right? No amount of research, reading parenting books, and getting tips from older moms and dads can ever prepare you for the task ahead of you. There’s no manual for this; you learn as you go, and you’re bound to make mistakes again and again.
Among the many things that keep me awake at night, my biggest fear as a parent is overdoing it. Just what do I mean by that?
I’m afraid that by over-asserting my “authority” as a parent, I will hurt and damage my children’s future. Regardless of our parenting style, we all make rules to ascertain that our kids grow up to be smart and responsible adults. Sometimes, however, our rules may be too tight for their own good that they become restricted to grow and move within that tiny little space we consider safe and harmless. To us, it’s our natural way of making sure they have the best possible future, as well as a smooth and easy path to get there, but to them, it might mean that we’re curtailing their freedom to choose their own adventure in life. We hate being accused of breathing down their neck (because really we’re not), but it might seem like that to them.
I’m worried that because of the overflowing love I have for my big babies, I will turn them into weak adults who are unable to protect and stand up for themselves. We have their best interests in mind, for sure, but sometimes we get caught up making decisions for them, again to make things easy for them. Not only does this completely eliminate them from the equation but also take away a good opportunity for them to think hard and deep, evaluate and weigh their options, and choose the appropriate action for themselves. In addition, as parents, we try to do everything within our control to shield our children from any pain and sadness, but this might not allow them to get the toughening up they need to withstand the cruelties in life, especially when they have to face these alone.
I’m also scared that with my good intentions of making my children stand out from the rest, I’m actually alienating them. It is always difficult to explain to your children why they’re not allowed to do something when everybody else seems to be enjoying it. In the same vein, it is tough to make them work on something that will supposedly improve a part of them when nobody else is wasting a single second on it. While we only want what’s best for our kids, we don’t hope for them to be the odd man out and be isolated from their friends and peers. We also don’t want to force them to be better than what they are capable of to the point of pushing them away from us.
Most of all, I fear that just by overly trying to be a perfect parent, I will be seen as the enemy who makes life a living hell for my children. I mean, how ironic is that? You want to make things easy for them, but they think you’re giving them the hardest time. No matter how good and healthy your relationship is with your kids, it is sometimes tricky to compete against external factors which can have a great (negative) influence on them. Social and traditional media, for instance, can paint an entirely different picture by implying that what you’re “imposing” on your kids is old-fashioned, wrong, and suffocating, and that kids with “mean parents” like you are hapless victims who should be freed and rescued.
Despite all these fears, I remain confident that I was given this important role because I fit the bill, so to speak, though I remain a willing and committed student to this life-long journey that is parenthood.