The trouble is that every kids is so dang different! And every mom is too. And the way our unique personalities mesh with our kids’ unique personalities have all kinds of different combinations.
I’ve been thinking along those lines lately. A couple things have made me ponder about nurturing:
1) Our summer read for book club was The Shell Seekers. Not my favorite book in all the world, but certainly one that made me think.
(I listened to it on audible, but you can find the real book HERE.)
Such an interesting description of life (at times almost dripping descriptions, almost comically to me at times…lots of words in that thing!…but sure kept me interested), and personalities, and generations, and what “stories” our children take with them. Isn’t it interesting that when you read a book you liken it to so many things that have been rolling around in your mind?
I loved discussing so many different themes during book club…all the characters and situations made for a really interesting conversation. I found myself wondering about the mother, Penelope, who was wise and really the hero of the story in my opinion. I loved that her goodness made other goodness gravitate to her. The characters of her three children sure made me think. Two of them were frankly quite horrible. Made me wonder about nature vs. nurture…how did those children grow up to be so different from their mother? Their dad was actually not so great himself, so yes, genes come into play here. Ok, and yes, this is a totally fictional story:). BUT for the sake of my thoughts on the matter, let’s think about the nurturing aspect here. Could different nurturing have changed those children or were they destined to be that way? Is empathy something that needs to be taught more? Can it be taught?
It made me feel for these parents, because there are so many flashbacks to growing-up years in the series… you just know those parents are giving their all to raise those kids and love them deeply to the very best of their abilities…through thick and thin. (Yes, again, fictional story, but I think there’s so much that speaks to so many parents on many levels in thinking about that scenario.)
So what the mom says next is what I keep thinking about: in her defense, she tells this son of hers that of course she always adored him, he is her son. But she explained that he recoiled over and over when she tried to give him the love she felt he needed, in the very best ways she could figure out how to give it.
That moment spoke to me. Because parenting is tough! Figuring out what kids need, especially teenagers, can be so difficult! Maneuvering though hormonal-laden, trying-to-figure-out-life insecurities and worries is no cakewalk. Each child needs love in such different ways. Some need tough love. Some need complete acceptance. Some are sensitive. Some wish we’d just leave them alone. Some can not get enough attention if your life depended on it. And some, like that character in This Is Us, just have a hard time being loved no matter what you try.
Bottom line is that we won’t get it perfect. And we very well could be that family sitting in a counseling session one day, (pretty cool that there are professional people to help in instances like that). But these thoughts gave me a renewed push to really seek to understand how to best nurture these five souls I’ve been entrusted with. The ones who still live here as well as the ones who don’t, who all need love in such different ways.
All these thoughts reminded me of a teenager post I wrote with lots of nurturing ideas back HERE. I still believe fully in all the ideas I shared in that post, but perhaps the part of that post I love the most is a comment from a reader:
“The hardest thing I’m finding (but the most important to actually do, if I look at how various young’uns I used to know turned out as adults)… is backing off. Not interfering. Letting them chart their own course, solve their own problems, make a few mistakes while they still have an easy safe-haven to come back to.”
(Thank you, dear reader!) She is right-on. Maybe one of the most important, key components of nurturing (which seems counterintuitive), is backing off and letting those kids of ours learn from failures as well as triumphs.
Just a few rambling thoughts I’ve been thinking lately.