Push and Pull
What is a parent’s role? As I help one of my kiddos study business and marketing, we discussed the concepts of push and pull, as it relates to the internet world. Do you get notifications pushed to you? Do certain sites pull information from you? Let’s relate the push and pull to a parent’s world.
Push those kids. Push those kids? PUSH those kids!
Is a parent’s role to push their child(ren)? As I participate in a number of groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, I continually find myself reflecting on the “push.” Pushing is not a fine line. There is no black and white. The “push” changes with each kid and each situation. A gentle nudge for one may knock another one completely off-kilter.
A case study: With encouragement, one applies for awards and wins. This child appreciates and is willing to ask for support. Hard work pays off. Another contemplates applying but lives more in-the-moment, rather than planning ahead. Deadlines come and go. Likewise, award opportunities come and go, too. Natural consequences speak louder than any mom’s squawking. Pushing, to me, is about “choosing my battles” because pushing takes energy. Physical. Emotional. Mental. Energy.
Pull them along…
If one isn’t pushing, what about pulling? Dragging a child unwillingly along is often described as “pulling teeth.” This creates an image in my head of unhappiness, fear, and perhaps even pain. I see masks, white coats, syringes of painkiller, and blood (real and metaphorical). I don’t want pulling to be my parenting reality anymore than I want pushing to be the reality.
Instead, I want to move along the parenting spectrum of support. Age brings wisdom. It is true. I might see the big picture differently than youngsters. I may know for certain that pushing through will pay off in the end. And likewise, there are times when I will pull my kids through muck kicking and screaming.
This blog was spurred because of one such scenario. This semester a kid has a professor, who seems heartless and almost rude. Kid is ready to throw in the towel. One can do that in homeschool coop classes; one cannot do that in college courses, after the magic drop date has come and gone. One has to persist, persevere, and continue to be the “bigger” person. Part of my pulling him along this bumpy college path involved:
- raising my voice—I YELLED loudly,
- setting firm boundaries and expectations—you WILL study XYZ before taking that test, and
- cracking open the book myself to co-study for the test—truly painful when it is NOT a subject that interests me. (Hmmm, is that similar to how kids feel?)
Teeter Totter of Parenting
Pulling is hard work! So is pushing—reminding kid of accomplishments, keeping perspective that a class/a test/a correspondence does not define oneself—words said to kid as much as for my own ears. Sometimes being present is the biggest job of all. Sitting with someone through their crappy feelings. Studying a subject whether you want to or not. Showing support through the good and bad times, like a marriage. Hey, parenting is like a marriage—until death do us part.
As you can see, the spectrum of support is like a teeter-totter. One moment, we are pulling our kids through a rough spell. Energy is expended at an immense rate, much like in tug-o-war. And then it shifts to pushing, sometimes akin to nagging. Aim for the sweet spot when the teeter-totter finds balance. The kids are self-directed. They reach out and resource when necessary. There is peace in the present while using the past to consider goals for the future. Parent On!