Even though the event was a couple days ago, I’ve been thinking of Father’s Day. I’m thinking a lot about parenting these days because we are on the cusp of new terrain in parenting. Our first set of twins are now preteens and we have the beginnings of the loud sighs, the exasperated shouts of YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! and the increasing importance of friends (and the drama that goes with those relationships). The second set and our little guy. . .well, they are still our puppies–happy to be fed and played with and still flummoxed why everyone doesn’t just love their annoying habits and questionable hygiene.
So I’m revisiting what it takes to be a parent of these emerging teen twins and. . .surprise surprise. . .pretty much what it takes to be a good parent when we brought them home. At times this age is just as intense and confusing and humbling as it was nearly 11 years ago.
But it the children’s father and my husband, Scott, who has shown me how important these particular parenting traits are.
- Patience. Tons of it. Like back up the patience truck and dump it on your front doorstep.
- Do not get stuck in gender specific roles. Okay, let me explain this one. We actually have pretty traditional gender roles. I do most of the cooking. . .he fixes anything that is broken (cars, toys, bikes). But, this is because I like to cook and he likes to fix things. On any given Saturday you can find him doing the gargantuan piles of laundry. . .on any evening night he might be cleaning the kitchen. He pretty much cooks breakfasts for the kids. Show children how family is actually spelled T-E-A-M.
- Be present. When the twins were babies it meant both parents doing the night feedings and changes no matter who had to “work” the next day. Now it means stepping away from work. . .and leaving the phone alone. It means being the face looking into your child’s face. True communication. . .at whatever age. . .is face-to-face.
- Willingness to Play: if there is one thing that Scott excels at it is play. He plays with the kids. Whether it is a whiffle ball game in the cul de sac or legos. . .he engages the kids in play. Why is this important? Because. . .and say after me. . .PLAY IS LEARNING. AT EVERY AGE. (And, honestly when I get overwhelmed by the number of things on my to-do list this is what I need to remember, too!)
- Sense of Humor. This goes with play but it is also totally separate. There is so much to raising kids can drive you crazy and really ride that last nerve. . .but I’ve seen Scott near that explosion level. . .and then watch him detour toward humor. A funny yell. A crazy face. At the moment of destination, Scott will take the child who has pushed his final button and. . .give him a huge bear hug while saying loudly, “I LOVE YOU. You are driving me crazy!”Anger is overrated as a teaching tool for children. Used s-p-a-r-i-n-g-l-y it can be effective when the child is in danger. . .otherwise anger is just a way for parents to relieve the pressure value of built up frustration. Be Elsa. . .Let it go (in a funny way).