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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Battle Of The Beasts

The Tiger Mom vs. The Red Herring Mom. What kind of parent are we to be or not to be? We start as Mama Bear, evolve into Sheep shepherding our Little Lambs and end up as Empty Nesters. But as we throw around all of these nature inspired monikers we forget that we are distinctively human and have one thing that our animal counterparts are missing - Options!

A snake will always act as a snake, some just shedding more colorful skins or striking with less poison than others. A gerbil will always appear cute and harmless, but may just eat her young when space gets cramped. A Giant Panda try as it might, is no match for looming species extinction. We however, as human parents, have the power to change. To evolve and take risks, or to tighten the reins based on subtle experiences or our dramatic family history. I'm sure some would continue the analogies by saying our kids can be prey to predators in the urban jungle. Or, that living below the poverty line, is parallel to supporting a pack off of scraps during a famine. But realistically we have more control over our circumstances, and ultimately the destiny of our offspring, than any other creatures on the planet. People have the power to make our families what we want. Our decisions to make changes, or set boundaries that improve our brood's chances for success (whatever that means to you) are part of the complex human experience. We are unique in that our adaptability and environment is not fixed - it is unlimited. It is more likely a case of the wont's, not the cant's that holds us back. We can learn through trial and error and make choices, take actions as mothers and fathers based on the personal characteristics of our families. That's why we have Stage Moms, Football Dads and Helicopter Parents all arguing that their way is the best.

Everyone, wants a blueprint - a "how to" guide. There's no single correct or incorrect way to parent. You must appreciate the unique constellation of your family, the interests & challenges of your kids. AND, not only focus on shaping their lives, but continue to improve yourself. If they don't find your behavior worth modeling, they'll find someone else to be their greatest influence. If your "way of being" helps you reach your personal and family goals they are likely to aspire to be just like you. If not, you'll be a lioness who begets a goat.