Parent Thyself

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Stop Eating Cookie Dough Little Missy.

I stood over my kid as he freaked about long division. He was tired, hungry and had already done this problem 50 times in the past, but his brain was hiccupping on this one step. He was insisting he’d done it this way all along and couldn’t understand why it no longer worked.

As his frustration mounted and the self-loathing kicked in, I launched into parent mode. “Let’s take a break. We’ll do a few other problems. Then you can watch a little television and have a snack. Take a deep breath. Don’t yell at me. Don’t yell at yourself. This is a moment in time.”

I recognized myself in this moment he was having, but what I didn’t recognize was that reasonable voice I used for soothing my child. This parent voice wanted him to self sooth, slow down, persevere and then reward himself. This parent voice was not my internal voice and yet I wanted it to become his internal voice. Wait. A. Minute.

So I have this voice and I don’t use it for myself? What gives? It was then I descended into this rabbit hole of permissive self parenting that got more puzzling by the minute. It includes activities like cookies for breakfast, too much sleep, throwing hissy fits, not spending time outside, choosing isolation over socialization and avoiding unpleasant work.

And, as simple as this is, I felt a huge epiphany when I realized I must parent myself. For whatever reason, I have habits that didn’t get “parented” out of or into me the first time. No blame to Barb and Earl, incidentally, as they instilled lots of amazing things. But, you know, some advice just didn’t take, and I think I spent 40 years feeling like that was … me. Meness.

While I suppose that’s true, it’s also a simple lack of discipline and habituation. These things can be addressed just as I address them in my son. Huh. And so I start this week with that thought. Rocky the parent working with Rocky the child because… why not? Rocky the child need not avoid things that make her uncomfortable and has little ground to stand on with self-indulgence.

So yeah, responsibility for your own shortcomings. Nothing new here, for sure, but for some reason this notion of parenting myself really brought it to light.

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