Most mothers of 10-year-old girls that I know are raising daughters who push boundaries endlessly (thank the heavens), question everything we say (praise the lord), and have a clear sense of identity as only a 10 year old can (hallelujah).
It wasn’t always like this. When my daughter was three years old, every day was like a battle, or at least it felt that way. I would wake up with new intentions to not be frustrated or angry with her need to do everything herself, and I promised myself that, as the adult in the relationship, I would be able to manage any situation my three year old threw at me.
I was wrong.
I became increasingly frustrated and struggled with how to parent this soul without dumbing her down. That was always my goal with parenting my daughter.
How do I allow her to become who she is without the societal shackles of what a girl should do, should be or should express? I did not want to raise a good girl, I wanted to raise a girl who was fully self-expressed and could be who she was – not always an easy task for a parent.
How to parent this soul without dumbing her down?
I believe that every parent is doing the best they can with what they have at the time, in terms of resources, knowledge and support. Most of us had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we choose the role of parent.
Every day is a balance between guidance, support, and listening.
Listening is probably the most important of these: it is only then that we can know who our children are, what challenges they are facing, and the dreams they have.
I have one of those girls who is obsessed with horses; traveling around Australia for a year turned a ‘horses are nice’ phase into a full-blown obsession. Between the rodeos, country farm days and staying on a cattle station, there was no escaping horses.
One morning on the cattle station, I had woken later than the rest of my family, and as we were staying in the guest cottage, I made my way up to the homestead. My husband and son were sat down having a chat with some of the workers, and I asked the lady of the house where my daughter was?
“She has gone bareback riding with my daughter. I have given them morning tea, water, and they have ridden off to the lake.”
So many thoughts flashed through my mind at this point.
WHAT? She has never ridden bareback before! What if she gets thrown? But your daughter is only eight! Where is the lake? What if she drowns? How long will it be before they are back?
I have never considered myself to be a helicopter parent; my husband and I are more the ‘free range’ type; our children have a level of independence and autonomy that I know some of our friends struggle with. But in the outback, in the middle of nowhere, I became a little helicopter.
I knew that when my daughter returned, we would have crossed another boundary together: she would know what she was capable of, and I would know that once again I was only a guide.
I tried to sit down and be calm about it, and it was made easier by my absolute trust in the lady of the house and how she parented her children. Unless she heard a scream, she knew they were fine; she let them roam and let them be.
I knew that when my daughter returned, we would have crossed another boundary together: she would know what she was capable of, and I would know that once again I was only a guide; her bliss and her expansion belong to her.
My daughter continues to teach me how to be a better parent because she continues to be exactly who she is. Amen.
Image by Duncan Rawlinson (Flickr).