Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Be" the parent

I believe that it is important for me, as a parent, to treat my children with the same respect that I would treat anyone else. This means telling the truth, listening to them when they speak (or coo, as is the case for Rebekah at 4 months), and not manipulating them in order to get what I want.

What I learned today is that I also picked up somewhere along the line that it is important for me to be a friend to my children. The problem is that when I look at myself as a friend to my children, I put myself in a position to fall victim to the same dramas that I play out in all of my friendships. Most specifically for today's lesson, my "I'm not worthy" drama comes up regularly. When I'm worried about whether or not Mary Jane or Rebekah believe I am "worthy" of their friendship then I am not focusing on what my actual role is as a father - to love, nurture, teach, correct, discipline, play with, be goofy with, etc. Of course, the truth is, as I was reminded yesterday (see post "Innocent affirmations"), my "worth" is never in question in Mary Jane's mind let alone Rebekah's.

Back to today's lesson: Rebekah hadn't nursed since about 2:30 am. No big deal, because I'll just give her a bottle when she wakes up. MJ and I had a good morning doing this and that and I half-applied my lesson from yesterday (see post "Agendas") and drank my protein shake first thing. When Rebekah woke at 7:45 am I "knew" she was going to be really hungry. I was a bit nervous when MJ asked to give Rebekah her bottle, but said okay. The short version is that I didn't heat the milk up quite enough so Rebekah didn't drink it very fast and MJ eventually lost interest in feeding Rebekah. Then Mary Jane turned her focus to watching a movie...her very persistent focus.

After several reminders from MJ that she wanted to watch a movie and several attempts from me to get her to understand that hanging over the arm of the sofa chair repeatedly saying "Rebekah, Bekah, Bekah" is indeed very distracting to her baby sister. I finally had enough.

"Mary Jane. If you ask to watch a movie one more time you WILL NOT watch a movie this morning" I said in a stern, fatherly tone that felt surprisingly natural. Her shift was immediate. She "got" it. All of a sudden I wasn't just a playmate. I was more than that. I was also her dad and I was willing to set down some guidelines regardless of how she may respond. What I learned today is that I do believe that it is important for me, as a parent, to treat my children with the same respect that I would treat anyone else. AND I believe that what my children want from me more than anything else is for me to BE the parent - and ALLof the parts that go with it.

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