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February 18, 2013 / missjandme

Finding Balance in Parenting

(This is the part where I pretend it hasn’t been months since I blogged here and talk about something that happened today. Just roll with it.)

 

Today I had to have a vaguely uncomfortable conversation with Miss J (age 6 – holy smokes where has the time gone?) (Quick background – the Dada is away for a couple weeks on field exercise. Yes, I recognize the irony that in the following paragraphs I’m concerned about the girl telling people this. I figure that of the few people reading this, even fewer of you actually know how to find me – and if you do, please feel free to show up at my door!)

We were at our nearby convenience store renting a movie, and as we waited at the counter while the cashier set up the rental, Miss J piped up, apropos of nothing, “My Daddy’s in (location of field exercise)!” The clerk was obviously a military spouse herself, because she knew exactly what the girlie meant, and we joked about it for a moment, but it brought up an issue of safety that worries me. My girlie is clearly an extrovert, so gregarious and friendly, and I love that, but it also worries me. She’s prone to telling strangers, especially store cashiers, her whole life story if she’s not stopped, and while I feel pretty safe in this small military town, it’s not a good practice to go around telling strangers that Dada’s away and we’re home alone. So we had a little talk about safety rules, and what we should and shouldn’t say to strangers – no giving her name without my permission, no telling strangers where we live, no telling strangers if Dada is away.

But it was a difficult conversation for me. How do I warn her about stranger danger without scaring her? How do I protect her from “bad strangers” without making her fear all strangers?

Finding balance in parenting is difficult. There is so much to fear out there in the world, but I don’t want my child to grow up afraid. I don’t want her to look at people with suspicion, but with the open heart that comes so naturally to her. I’m struggling to instill caution without instilling fear in her. And, being a typical Mom, I worry that I’m not doing it “right.”

The hard truth is, it may not matter what I do. The dangers of our world are numerous and unpredictable. I could warn her and train her about every imaginable danger, and something unimaginable could happen. Or, and this is so much more likely, we will live our safe little lives out, never touched by any of the things I lay awake at night worrying about.

In the end, I simply said to her “I don’t want you to be afraid. I just want you to remember that not all the people in the world are nice, and because we can’t tell the difference by looking at them, we use our safety rules to protect ourselves.” She agreed with me, and the conversation moved on to something frivolous. I don’t know what she took from our conversation. I guess I’ll get an idea of that the next time we go shopping.

How do you find balance in your parenting?

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One Comment

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  1. Judy ( Mom ) / Feb 19 2013 1:00 am

    Hi sweetheart – Your Mom here…. The child is adorable the way she takes to people, and it is a wonderful quality that will help her go far in life. And, as she gets older she does need to learn to filter. What came up for me when I read this was that you could frame it in terms of privacy without using the “danger” approach. There are things that we do keep private within our families. She is old enough now to understand and to use that filter. After having the Privacy discussion at home, when you are in public and she starts to spew you could quietly remind her that “that’s a private matter”. It will take time, and she may not get it at first. Now, privacy is different from secrecy, and you know how I disavow secrets. So you’ll have to make a distinction there. And I’m sure you’ve already dealt with how she can go to trusted adults with her problems. I used to tell you and Aims to talk to someone else you trusted if you couldn’t talk to me or Dad. You are doing a fine job, and the girl is a work of art! Don’t take it too seriously – they all grow up to be ok! xo

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