Up until this point in my vocation as a mom, I have been practicing what I like to call “detachment parenting”. Detachment parenting is pretty much what you would expect it to be – the opposite of attachment parenting to a baby. The opposite of being a helicopter mom to a child. On a good day, it’s trying to encourage my kids to be independent and take care of things on their own and not look to Mom or Dad for help in every area of life. On a bad day, my laziness and selfishness can be easily masked beneath this style of parenting.
I was able to grow up in a house with lots of siblings who were expected to be responsible and be self-motivated. I don’t know if that came hand-in-hand with being part of a big family, or having a family business, or if my parents just forgot about us and we were left to fend for ourselves… just kidding, Mom and Dad, you were the greatest! I can honestly never once remember my parents having to check on my schoolwork, make my breakfast or lunch, or remind me what days and times I had ice-skating or violin lessons. I was organized and determined and didn’t need any help from anybody. I had a checking account at age 12, made my own money babysitting and working in the ice cream store, did well in school, went off to college and grad school, got married and started having kids of my own. And I was going to raise those kids just as I had been raised – independent and responsible.
Heeheehee, my current self is laughing at my past self.
But, for awhile it worked! For a loooong while, in fact! I taught those babies to sleep in their own space and self-soothe, toddlers were expected to clean up after themselves, school-aged kids needed to get their own clothes and backpacks ready. I never checked homework unless a teacher required a signature. The kids got good grades and I didn’t have to worry. They had chores to do and sports to practice and masses to serve, and they were able to get it all done with relative ease.
Until this year.
I’m not sure if it was the transition to the new school, a new baby in the mix, the fact that my oldest is in middle school, or the integration of technology between the classroom and home, but whoa nelly we’ve been doing a lot more hands-on parenting this year. Which is tough since our 5 month old and wild toddler still very much need those hands.
Last night I was working with my 6th grade son for an hour and a half while he was doing homework. I was looking up assignments on the teacher’s webpages and setting him up on our home computer so he could research for an essay to be written on his google drive. I went shopping for a Spanish to English dictionary and more pens that he suddenly needed at the last minute. I spent an hour having a parent meeting with my husband after that child went to sleep, determining new rules for accountability and consequences for bad grades and incomplete assignments. We have a child that needs us to be on top of him at the moment. We have a child that needs help in getting organized and learning study skills. We have a child that needs to learn that there is no play time until all the schoolwork gets done. We have a child that needs discipline and structure until they can learn to work on their own.
I never thought I would have a child like this. Isn’t that so prideful and naïve of me? God threw me a curveball this year, and has caused my laid back detachment parenting style to go out the window for the time being. He’s an amazingly talented and good boy who is just struggling with all the changes in his life. I hope this is simply a turning point where he needs help to get on track and we can eventually go back to being more hands-off, but for now we are going to help him any way we can. After all, whether we practice attachment parenting or detachment parenting, the key word is parenting, and we’ll gladly change our pre-set philosophies to suit our child’s needs. It’s going to be a challenging year and we all have a lot of growing up to do, but he's so worth it.