No Longer Essential VS No Longer Needed
As parents, we long for and dread the time we are no longer needed.
If you too are in this position, I’m sure you will agree that parenting is the scariest thing in the world… mostly wonderful, but like a really good thriller, the scary parts literally make your heart stop!
You want the very best for your child/ren , actually, you want better than you had… isn’t that what we all aspire to as parents, to give our children the life and the opportunities that we, for whatever reason did not have?
Being a Single Parent Makes Things Challenging
If like me, you are a single parent, the ‘terror’o’meter’ goes so much higher. You are aware and doing your best not to realise the stigma and societal beliefs attached to single parentdom. Ensuring the day to day absence of the other parent does not impact on your child’s life chances and just generally working yourself into the ground to meet the plethora of financial psychological and emotional requirements.
Growing up, I always reminded myself to allow my children to take calculated risks and make certain decisions (through debate) to help them flourish into well rounded young adults.
This philosophy has worked better for child number one who, now I look back, she was extremely compliant until she reached her late teens; after which she was still willing to listen to my suggestions and have healthy debate about why she wanted to do something different.
At this point I realised that my contribution was no longer essential but was still wanted in order to provide a different perspective and initiate a healthy, balanced thought process.
Every Child is Truly Unique
Cue child number two… warning expect things to be different, by that I mean you need to start with a completely clean slate, hold firmly to the belief that each child truly is unique.
Having any expectations based on previous experience will come back to bite you in the arse every step of the way, so don’t do it. My second and youngest child was totally different from the word go, I put my hands up and admit, I honestly didn’t know what had hit me. I wasn’t at all prepared for this total antipodal.
Feeling Like a Fraud
As someone who has taught diplomas in childcare and supports professionals in behaviour management strategies, I feel a bit of a cheat…. what would they think if they could see me now? I quickly shoo that thought out of my mind, it only serves to make me feel terrible and blur my mind with pointless worry… I am after all only human right?
It doesn’t matter whether I was prepared or not. The reality is, I have to deal with it and learn how this particular model works and what she would better respond to. Time for different and possibly new approaches and strategies.
Circumstances Add to The Challenge
A little insight into the first few years of number two’s life. By the time I was expecting her, my marriage was pretty much over in reality; just not quite on paper. Their father was increasingly absent and disengaged.
Practically alone by the time I was three months pregnant… that time of my life felt like the worst kind of shit with no light at the end. But, in hindsight, it was most certainly for the best.
As time went by I actually got it, I knew the approach, I had studied this wilder, more stubborn personality. I also reluctantly admit that I can see elements of me in some of the difficult traits. Yep this is definitely my child!
Unlike her older sister, there’s very little compliance and threats don’t work. Taking things away works… but only for a while. I am constantly having to change my approaches and strategies in order to maintain what are very clear and, in my opinion, very fair, boundaries.
The A Level Phase
Now almost 17 years of age, it has not become any easier. Still the same strong personality and on occasion very challenging. In addition to the challenges and keeping me on my toes (very taxing indeed), she is a joy. She’s funny, entertaining, caring, strong and intelligent.
Life at this particular stage in our journey together is somewhat difficult, for me in particular. It is rather frustrating and sometimes extremely painful as number two is very demanding and, can be quite egocentric when it comes to her own needs.
From number two’s perspective I know she feels ‘got at’ if I make any suggestions. She feels misunderstood if I question the reasons for some of her decisions and actions. This is her personality, this is my number two, all mine and I wouldn’t have her any other way.
Now at ‘A level’ phase and it seems number two is suddenly a different human being altogether. I thought she may still need me in the shadows but it seems I was wrong. Number two will do what she feels is best for her, even if I disagree and give justification for the disagreement.
I now realise that there is a huge difference between no longer being essential and no longer being needed. When you are no longer essential, you still get a platform to voice your views, when you are no longer needed, that platform does not exist.
Being There In a Different Way
So what do you do? It’s quite tricky as what I mentioned at the beginning about wanting better for your children still applies at this stage in number two’s life.
I have pondered on this and have come to the conclusion that I will have to firstly accept not being needed, stop putting myself too close in the shadows. I will need to review my approach thus far, which means, let go completely and wait outside the furthest of side lines; ready to come to the rescue when that situation arises. I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen but I need to ‘Be There’ just in case, because I am after all, a parent.
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This blog has been featured in the Huffington Post