Yep, you read that right. I suck as a parent.
In October, I was going through that breathing issues crap. At the same point, we were trying to get Luna into more ice skating lessons. She was planning to meet with a coach on Tuesday afternoons, after school. Suddenly, I realized we needed more than the school after care. I managed to hire an afterschool sitter/driver.
Our interview was the day after I had the anaphylatic reaction to contrast dye. I was very wiped out and resting on our couch. It was also the start of Snowtober. She was prompt, as her references indicated she would be, and she was a tad older than I expected. I would say she was in her late 50s. She was very polite and straight forward. C had raised 5 children, one who was premature and had learning disabilities, and was looking for this sort of part time work. She had firm expectations on the kids. I was concerned about her being too firm, so we tried to lay out a good routine.
From the start, both girls challenged her. There have been days when I find out that Soleil totally ignored her and left trash on the ground just to see what C would do. This is behavior that I don’t condone, but I think we may have contributed.
You see, I was raised in a Christian household. Dr. Jay was raised in a Jewish household. Okay, no big deal, right? Well, no. Christians are raised to believe. You follow the rules. You listen to authority, especially the big guy. You don’t question what the Bible teaches, you adapt your life to Christianity. Judaism? Well now, that is different. Some Jewish heroes question G-d. By questioning, you learn. Don’t follow blindly. Read and interpret the Torah. Take a Torah reading and 3 Jews and you have 3 different interpretations. Question, think, reason, fit. Very different.
We are raising our girls to think, question and reason. I am trying very hard to instill respect. Really really really. I was recently visiting another blogger. I made a comment about respectful arguing. The daughter looked at me and asked how you do that. So I explained that just because a rule is there by us, the parents, we do allow the girls to respectfully argue the rule. An example would be “No feet on the table”. Soleil’s arguments have been, “Mom, I am much more comfortable with putting my feet up when I eat” My argument back is “Soleil, feet pick up a ton of germs, some kids (LUNA’s) feet smell, and it is not socially acceptable to put your feet on the table.” I enforce the rule, but I explain it. The daughter stopped and thought about this. When her mom told her to not put her feet on the chair, the first reaction was a whine. Then the daughter stopped and said “Wait, I’m going to argue nicely. Mom, I like my feet on the chair. Can I stay this way?” Her mom laughed and said no because it could ruin the chair, but then we both praised her for not just whining, but instead thinking through the problem. I am not sure my friend appreciated my view, because authority starts to diminish with questioning.
We allow questioning. Our parents claim “everything is a negotiation.” Our response is “No, when they try to negotiate, the answer can be no, you do it our way.” I find many adults find questioning authority to be disrespectful. I don’t. I feel you can respectfully question authority. You need to question the request or order, not the person. When you get the explanation, you can’t answer with “that’s stupid” and you do need to stop and follow through if the person says so. We’ve done this multiple times with the girls. It’s hard and not consistent. It means that sometimes you change your mind and other times you need to say no.
I got an email from our sitter last night. The line that hurt was from her about the girls:
I am not viewed as an authority figure – at best, I am viewed as a peer – at worst, I am viewed as a servant.
Dr. Jay reminded me that C is quite old school and would assume any questioning of authority is an affront, but still, it hurt and my parenting feels questioned.
This is why I suck as a parent. It’s hard to raise our children to think and question, yet be respectful at the same time. I need to work on the respect more. Part of this is also school. We’ve had a rough year with Soleil in school with respecting her teacher. This is just further evidence that we need to stress respect.
How do you teach respect in your house?