Between Nurture and No-Nonsense

I’ve written here several times about how I feel like finding balance is one of the keys for parenting and homeschooling for me.  I often feel like I’m trying to walk a tightrope line between structure and freedom, indulgence and strictness, and pushing and patience.  The place between these extremes is where I feel like great parenting and healthy kids comes from, even if I don’t always feel like my personal balance is just right.

Lately, I have felt a huge tug between being that nurturing, loving, understanding, cuddle up in my lap mother and being that “shut up and get over yourself” mother.  Both BalletBoy and Mushroom in the last few weeks have pushed me on this in various ways.

With BalletBoy, he has several times gotten himself high up without a clear way down and wanted me to do it for him (an impossible task when he’s over my head).  With Mushroom, as always, it’s schoolwork where he finds himself overwhelmed and on the ledge.

On the one hand, I want to be the patient, loving mother.  I want to be all attachment parenting, no judgments mama.  But sometimes, the more I give, the more they take and the less they actually get any better or make any progress.  It’s as if my helping them down, letting them out of it, easing off the pressure, actually makes them less secure and more upset.  Instead of feeding their confidence, every hug and patient word feeds their fears and anxieties.

So I find myself going the other direction.  I state calmly my support and then…  I ignore.  Or, sometimes, I give some harsh words.  Get yourself down.  Take a deep breath and get over it.  I’ll help you when you stop panicking and let me help.  Until then, I can’t even hear you!

Sometimes it works right away and that’s so validating.  Sometimes, it takes forever.  Eons of my nasty ignoring for a child to calm down and come around.  And then I really wonder if the balance is off.  Where’s that sweet spot between nurture and no-nonsense where a child is both secure and independent and knows how loved he is?

4 thoughts on “Between Nurture and No-Nonsense

  1. I know exactly what you are talking about. MATH MELTDOWNS !!! When you find the “sweet spot” please let me know!

  2. I don’t think any parent has found that sweet spot. Each kid is SO different. My son needs words of praise and a long leash. My daughter needs constant hand-holding and snuggles but desperately needs me to be close by at all times for those moments when she gets herself into a predicament from which she can’t extract herself. And how can a parent be all things to all people? I think it’s impossible. We muddle through, do the best we can, and hope that at the end of the journey they’ll still talk to us. Fingers crossed.

  3. Thank you for your post. I have been at my wit’s end trying to find the sweet spot for my newly homeschooled 4th grader. I have tried and failed to make him excited and happy about learning more times than I can count. Yet I’m almost positive this is the best route for him. I’m certain that when the kids grow up and move out, I’ll be too drained and withered to do anything else except sit and read novels! Good luck to us all!

  4. I discovered a trick when my first kid was about eighteen months old; whenever I feel fed up to the teeth with everything I try to make it translate to the particular situation I’m in. Here’s the scenario: he fell down the (carpeted) stairs, a number of them, and landed on the bottom, unhurt but shaken up. While my first instinct was to screech “Are you OKAY????” and hyperventilate madly, for some reason I remembered something I read in a baby book: “if there is no obvious trauma, pretend that they meant to do it and approach the situation as if it was a cool and momentarily fascinating visual. Act casual.” So that’s what I did. I went up to him and said “Wow, you really slid down THAT staircase” and he picked himself up and laughed. Trauma over. My friend thought I was horribly callous, lol. But it worked: none of my kids act like operatic divas when they have a minor accident. Now, every time I’m in a playground (or shop) and I witness a parent wailing over a kid who has sustained very minor damage, I think how we parents often work way hard to exacerbate certain situations and how unhelpful we ultimately are, because instead of helping them extricate themselves from a situation, it’s as if we’re digging them deeper into it.

    So, that’s my (long-winded) way of saying that the sweet spot will come around eventually for you all. They just need to recreate the grooves on their LPs.

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