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Monday, May 3, 2010

Bi-Polar Parenting Style


And I ain't talking about disorders here.

Well, unless you mean disorder by disorderly family.

Wait, that's dysfunctional.

When I grew up in the little town that I now live in (which by the way is now a big city) I loved riding my bike in the street, exploring the sewers and drainage pipes, and walking the railroad tracks. Oh the things my parents would let me do back in the day--partly because it was the eighties and partly because my parents were the type that would rather have us out of their hair than spending time with us.

I remember doing some of the most unwise things, which in my naivety and lack of good parental supervision knew nothing of the consequences about...exploring railroad tracks being numero uno (Fried Green Tomatoes anyone?). I suppose my family already rode the crazy train, so a little exploration came naturally. I also explored the grass fields behind my house which backed up to the woods. This fact was of no consequence (besides the chiggers that once made home inside my cast when I broke my foot) except that a homeless man also camped out there and "stole" water from our spigot while we children played. (Once my stepdad found out he told the guy he couldn't come around when we children were outside...hence why stole is in quotation marks.)

There was also a water ditch that ran between our house and the adjoining property next to us and the grass fields behind us. On the other side of this ditch my twin brother, older sister and I found a wild cat with a manxed tail and tried to feed it bologna slices. Of course, this cat would not let us get anywhere near it and instead hissed and growled at us while we threw slices of bologna at it. Would you laugh at me now if I told you the wild house cat we thought we were feeding was really a young bobcat?

Would you?

And why is bologna spelled that way?

So this weekend I took my children to the park where we were met by a rather large yellow dog that was not only stupid, but also growled at me. I pretended to act unscathed by it and it's teen owner, and I think I did a good job of acting with my new rose colored sunglasses on to protect my angrily glare from her. I payed close attention to this teen, because I was wondering what she was doing sitting on the playground equipment with her dog, Marley, who had now taken to growling at the children who were playing around her. Once my youngest, and I knew he would, ran up to the dog I warned him in a loud voice to be careful because the dog might bite.

And with that, the teenager grabbed the two younger children she was "watching" and decided to leave.

(Quotation marks meant as sarcasm.)

You know they made a sequel to the movie Marley and Me, right? It's called: Just Me.

Then I observed three different parenting types at the park that day. One: The One who Doesn't Watch Their Kids (or their dogs either). Two: The One that Keeps a Close Eye on Their Kids, But Lets the Other Moms Help Watch Also (and who also lets me show their four-year-old how to throw old crab legs into a murky pond). Three: The One Who Physically Looks Exhausted and Verbally Counts her Children to Make Sure They're All Still There because they're known to take off and explore (guilty as charged). There's also numero FOUR: The One that has to be On Top of Their Kids' Every Single Move Just in Case Something Tragic Happens (aka the hover parent), but this mom was not there.

(However, I have met the hover parent, aka Mother Hubbard, who freaks out when your kid sits in a rain puddle. By the way, Mother Hubbard is male in case you wondered.)

In fact, I avoid all parent types ONE and FOUR like the plague. I'm sure from time to time I have been those two polar opposites when needed. I like to call it the bi-polar parenting style. In fact, I could probably learn a thing or two from these parents, but there's some things I'll never learn.

I'll bet my husband's thinking "won't learn", but that's neither here nor there.

Ah crap, someone's going to pissed off by my title choice.


LoveFeast Table said...

This reminds me of my childhood also spent playing on the railroad tracks, exploring sewers and riding the back roads of our small farm town in search of adventure.

Yes, we were mostly unsupervised, sometimes not even coming home for lunch but rather, stealing apples from someone's backyard tree.

Sometimes it make me a little sad to realize my own four children will not get to experience my "wild child"-hood. It made me who I am: imaginative, intuitive, resourceful, creative and hardworking. (It's hard work biking home from across town in a lightening storm!)

As for parenthood...I've probably been #2-4...and hopefully not often #1. I like to think of it, not so much as "bi-polar" parenting as "blended" parenting. I have sometimes blended in what is needed for the mood/survival of the myself and my child depending on what "parent" I can or need to be in the moment. hmmm maybe that's more of a "multi-personality parenting" deal.:)

At any rate...I hope to be a blend. Enough watchful eye and enough of letting them run free and maybe just experience enough danger to let them feel alive, free, and confident.

Sorry for the novel...apparently I've had enough caffeine this morning!! ~Chris Ann

Screwed Up Texan said...

Chris Ann, You make very good and valid points. Love the multiple personality parenting style name!

I think most of us has no one absolute parenting style. It's just that the extreme Ones and Fours freak me out.

Well, I was going to say makes me nervous...but freaks me out is more honest.

Mindee@ourfrontdoor said...

I've been all four kinds of parent, but I figure God knew what kind of parent I'd be when he chose which kids to put in my house. We'll make it. :)

DangGina said...

Yeah...the hover parents and the "wait, I have a kid?" parents are both the worst. Crazy, crazy.

I wish it was warm enough to go to the park up here in SE ID. I go for a walk with my friend Matt every Sunday, and usually the wind blows my hair hither and yon...I wish it'd stop already. Warm up, please!

Expat From Hell said...

Ran into Parent #1, and said cretin-child, at a bar yesterday afternoon. While we groaned at the runaway child screaming and crying all around our tables, it did cause us to order more cocktails to deaden the pain. I wonder if this was all a trick by the you think they might have been hired to increase sales? It makes you wonder why they would ever want to go a park in the first place! EFH

Spittin Toad said...

Funny post...Do you have a # for the parents that watch their kids closely but let them make those kind-of bad dicisions anyway? I'm not one to worry!! I warn friends, that their kids are far safer with my husband, than me!! I tend to say things like; "If you fall out of that tree don't break anything!" or "Can't you climb any higher than that?"

One time my girl fiend and I were watching the kids play a fun little game ..the three older boys were balancing on a barrel while the girls threw balls at them...We both wondered if we should put a stop to it...but they were having so much fun...untill CJ fell and fractured his collor bone....opps. The worst of it is; it's always my girl friends kids that get hurt...Mine learned how to fall a long time ago. :)

ForeverRhonda said...

I think you got it right on in regards to the 4 parenting styles...1 and 4 drive me crazy too. The hover parents are incredibly annoying.

Tim and I just had a conversation about how when we were kids we were allowed to do so much more...explore all over, etc.

Christy said...

I love this post, and your musings over the title! I'm trying so much to be less of the 'hover mom' the #4 parenting type. When my oldest was around 18 months I went on a playdate with a new friend. Our kids played while we sat on the bench. she was all cool while I was sitting there repeating to myself, don't follow her up the stairs, she's not going to fall off the side, you don't have to walk behind her on the bridge...yeah I've grown up a 'bit', lol!

Candance said...

I used to ride my bike everywhere and explored storm drains and the woods behind my house. We (Rosa and I) used to go to Broken Bridge where it was rumored some devil worshippers were sacrificing goats which meant we were strictly forbidden to step foot in that evil, dangerous place. Thing is, no one bothered to check unless the we weren't home by the time the street lights came on.

I tend to be a little helicopter momish at times with Max when he first plays with a new kid. Once I see that it's going okay, I get over it. WAY over it. Whatever. I'm a good mom, dammit.

Screwed Up Texan said...

Mindee, Well said.

DangGina, Ha! and I'm complaining because we're getting a little cold front right know it's supposed to get down to 60 F. But that's okay, it'll be mid 90s by Wednesday.

EFH, Your hypothesis may be the correct conclusion. Anyway, if I ran a bar I might do it.

Spittin Toad, Oh yah...I forgot about those ones! Then again, Im the one that broke at least a dozen bones by the time I enter college.

Forever Rhonda, I was thinking today that I oughta go visit some of these places and explore. See how things have changed, etc.

Christy, I think with each of my kids' births it's gotten easier to be more laid back. I mean, I just have to if I'm going to keep my sanity.

Candance, Heck ya you're a great mom!

mindy@thesuburbanlife said...

Oh, yeah. I've been all of those parents. (Sometimes, a couple at the same time.) And I wouldn't necessarily consider it bi-polar(ism). I think it's more of a "survival of the fittest" situation. Great post :)

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