It may sound like a strange question, but it needs to be asked anyway:
How do you parent yourself? How do I parent me?
Let me explain. As parents, it’s quite easy to identify similar characteristics and traits in our children. We quickly and easily recognize when they furry their brow like their mothers; we notice immediately when they are aggressive or passive like their fathers. We see the attitude in them, and we do not doubt that it came from us. However, what do you do when they become a teenager–and they act just like YOU acted? God forbid that they think and act the way that I thought and acted–or even worse, in the way that I think and act right now!
How do I, as a parent, tell them not to do something that I know that I would do? Is there a way to parent the me out of my own child?
Now then. I have a few things about myself that I must admit; things that are relevant to this discussion.
First of all, I am a magnificent human being. This cannot be disputed. I am a great contributor to society at large. That said, I am also a certified smart-ass that knows everything. This also cannot be disputed. You see, I’m not one of those people that thinks they know it all. They’re annoying, but not me. I kinda DO know it all. I’m really freaking smart, and I have been so for quite some time– long enough to know how to make sense out of any bit of nonsense, long enough to win ever conversational argument (even when I’m dead wrong, not that THAT ever happens), long enough to B.S. my way through many a situations.
Bear with me. It’s all relevant to parenting myself.
In the sixth grade, I was doing single variable calculus. I got an amazing head start educationally, and I haven’t looked back once. Because I got exposed to both sides of the tracks, I learned just enough to fit into the upper echelon– while also knowing how to do enough to never completely lose my street cred. I was the teenager who was able to present a reasonable and sound case –to my mother and all other authority figures– each and every and any time I was caught with my hands in the proverbial cookie jar. I knew exactly how to act at school, or in public, to convince my teachers or those strangers that I was an amazing joy of a young girl– all while being a pure emotional and psychological terror at home.
My time was coming, though.
Y’all remember when your mother cursed you and said, “I can’t wait for you to have children, so you can see how this feels?” Yeah. That has happened. My child has made me reconsider my theories on corporal punishment. Shoot, my child has made me reconsider my theories on adults fighting children!
Praise God, knowledge is gained and wisdom is learned through hard knocks. These sharp blows to my life (and my ego) that I have experienced through the years, has allowed that arrogant teen to grow into a seasoned woman; one who has learned to master her skills, and to use her talents for good and not for evil. That rough past and that wisdom are what allow me to be a pretty good life coach; I am constantly seeking knowledge, striving for understanding–and I’ve never lost my sixth sense of the underlying truth. My utterly amazing ability to play people and my keen sense of manipulation (I mean these in the best possible way) are what make me a great marketer (yes, if we are honest, that’s really all marketing is–#sorrynotsorry). My growth has allowed me to see my amazing abilities and my glaring flaws at the same time. Unfortunately, I can see every single cell within every single inch of my skin standing in front of me, in the fiendish form of my teenage daughter.
You know how people see your kids, no matter how they look or how they act, and they say stuff like, “oh man, that’s you all over again?” Yeah. That part. My daughter has the gift of my intelligence–which is truly a beautiful thing. School comes as easily to her as it once did to me; she barely cracks open the book to study, and she still maintains an A/B average. She has consistently been an honor roll student. She attends a magnet STEM high school. She takes two AP courses every semester. At the time of life when one begins to see life for what it really is–high school–and at a time when she is being met with numerous opportunities to begin to see life, I really do not see her seeing what she should see, you see.
Our home has become a daily battle of wits between mother and daughter–and the latter is up for the challenge. The contest usually goes something like this: she gets caught with her hands in the cookie jar (like I used to); I attempt to talk to her like someone who has a reasonable modicum of sense (like I should do); and she responds with some lazy and lackadaisical and half-thought-out excuse, where usually someone else gets the blame for the action rather than herself.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s normal teen behavior, right? Yeah, but it’s different–I’m a life coach, and a good one, remember? This is where I have the opportunity to equip my child with real life knowledge, right? These are opportunities to put this child ahead of the game! So, I patiently talk with her about her “excuses.” When we get to the moment where she has herself dismissed the basis of her excuse, when we come to the time when she must own her actions, all of a sudden she jukes to the left like a running back in the Super Bowl–and goes right back to her original nonsense that she herself just disproved! She will extensively attempt to argue with me, she will twist my words in every way possible, and she will never back down from a war–even if it means her own punishment! Who is this child–and why does she look so much like I did two decades ago???
Sigh. I am going through a war within myself over this doppleganger I am attempting to parent. On the emotional side, my feels say “who the hell do you think you are to have a battle of wits with me? Don’t you know I’m the queen of this ish? I am the mother, you are the child. I will put you in your place!” On the logical side, though, my gray matter says, “Awwww, poor little tink tink! You just can’t see how long and hard the life you have ahead of you is going to be–unless you stop refusing to focus and get back to working on yourself! That child is just like you!”
Which brings me back, of course, to the beginning of this blog: after each of these battles and wars, fierce skirmishes with my heart, my brain, and the human mirror in front of me that is my child; I ask myself the question,
How do I parent me? How do I parent myself?
Yeah, I don’t have an answer to this, though. Like, I really have no answer at all. I’m just getting it off my chest and venting. You know they say that grandchildren are the reward from God for not killing your own. Maybe that’s the solution. After all, my mom loves my daughter, and she’s the one that unleashed the curse in the first place. I don’t know. I just know that I have to figure it out soon. I’m driving myself crazy–and that’s not a metaphor. Well, not exactly; unless she counts as a metaphor for parenting myself.
If you have any advice or tips on how to make it through PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE drop them in the comments. I need help y’all like FRFR….