One of the hardest lessons that I have had to learn as a parent is when to welly in and when to leave well alone. And it has been really hard. All parents want to believe the best about their children. We encourage and nurture them and teach them right from wrong. We think that we know them better than anyone else and we probably do. But we also think that we can predict their every move and second guess how they will react to a situation with pinpoint accuracy. This, in my experience, is a mistake.
How well did your parents know you? Pretty well probably. How many times did you pull the wool over their eyes and get away with it? A fair number I should guess. So why shouldn’t our own children be the same? Children are exceedingly good at manipulating adults in general and parents in particular. After all, it starts at birth with that ear piercing cry that no human can ignore. So I know that any story I hear has been spun either to gloss over my child’s part in the misdemeanour or to blacken the name of their current foe. And sometimes it might even be 99% fabrication.
As parents we fuel this fire. We can’t help it. We show concern. We might even tut or make some ill advised comment about another child. Our own children zoom in on that and use it to their advantage. Now that they have our attention the incident starts to gather momentum and before too long our child is up high on a pedestal polishing their halo whilst everyone else involved would be better off in Borstal. We can’t stop it. We are protecting our own.
However, unless there is real harm done, I believe that that should be it. The child sounds off. The parent shows sympathy and secretly thinks that the other party should be better parented and then we all forget about it and move on. I have learned to resist the urge to march to the school gates and complain. Firstly there are two sides to every story and I cannot necessarily rely on what I have been told as being gospel but secondly, what good can it possibly do? The world is a tough place. It starts in the playground and it just keeps getting tougher. If I run into school at the first sign of trouble then how will my children ever learn to deal with it?
I need to smother my lioness instinct. The children have to develop strategies for dealing with the difficulties that they face in life. This is how they develop socially and is what makes them into rounded, capable and tolerant adults. And sometimes it hurts that they are the butt of jokes for day after day or that they are being isolated or even that there’s a bit of physical rough and tumble. But that’s life and the sooner they learn how to deal with it themselves then the happier life they will lead.
It has been undoubtedly a hard pill to swallow and I will no doubt have to struggle with it many more times before I’m finished but I firmly believe that my children have to stand up for themselves and fight their own battles without me to help and that that lesson will stand them in good stead for life.