Three types of parents: Which one are you?

Three types of parents:  Which one are you?

While sitting through a 10 hour swim meet, a friend and I talked about a recent lecture she experienced regarding the three types of involved parents.  It caused me to look at myself, and try to force myself into the one that sounded the most attractive. 

The Parent that lives THROUGH their child:  These parents are pretty easy to pick out.  They talk extensively about their own successes and failures.  You tend to know all about their high school football team.  Their child is usually the one that never looks all that happy on the field, or playing the instrument.  The other thing you hear out of those parent's mouths quite a bit is "WE"
At the end of a pretty heated soccer game for my 8 year old, I walked passed a group of moms and some of the quotes I heard were, "We just can't be beat", "That was an easy game for us", "We play the best game out there".  Maybe it was my own 'living through my

child pride' coming out, but I walked right in the middle of the group and said, "Just so you know, YOU didn't play anything".

I think this type of parent has good intentions.  They really don't want their child to make the same mistakes that they made.  The problem is, they tend to make all the decisions about the child's future which leads the child to become a frustrated adult unable to choose directions and dreams for themselves.
The Parent that lives FOR of their child:  This is the  person that ceased to exist before kids.  Every move they make is because of their kid(s).  Johnny forgets his lunch or homework, they're the first one at school walking it into the classroom.
The coaches tend to know these parents
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by name and are regularly e-mailed regarding every concern.  If their child has a minor injury on the field, they're the first one freaking out.  Just this past weekend, a child went down during an indoor soccer game.  Her parent ran onto the field and carried her off.  All of us were so worried something major was broken.  The near fatal injury ended up being a rug burn.  The same child cried at the end of the game and complained about breathing.  Her parents drove directly to the hospital.  The diagnosis?  Fatigue.  This same parent talked to me later that night and asked if I thought they were being too overprotective.  Really?  

The Parent that lives WITH their child:  This is obviously the one we should all strive for.  They are the parents that attend all the recitals, games and competitions.  They cheer (within reason) for the successes and are a shoulder to cry on for the failures.  They are the rock that combines the exact balance of strength and sympathy for their kids.  
They are there for them with advice, but ultimately allow their children to make their own mistakes.  The parents have their own life and social circles, yet also make their kid's activities a priority.
So what type of parent are you?  Honestly.  I'd love to say I'm always the parent that lives with my child, but realistically I know I drift into the "For" my child arena.  I've never been accused of coddling my children too much, but I do put my life on hold to make sure I am at every event, no matter how minor.  I also think it's a little crazy that I don't fly without them.  My husband is always begging me to go on trips with him and I did go to Mexico once.  But I was so nervous that I spent almost all of my time throwing back margarita's.
Yes, I do involve myself too much and need to gravitate toward "With" instead of "For".  But I do think the reason I was blessed with five kids is because I can only do so much due to lack of time.  If I only had one child, I'm sure they would be completely neurotic. 
So my goal is to gravitate completely toward living WITH my children, which will better prepare all of us when they leave the nest someday.  But does this mean I have to stop e-mailing coaches, accessing their online grades and checking their Facebook accounts every day?


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  • Well put. The fact that you can openly and honestly evaluate yourself and talk about how you feel as a parent and in relation to your children speaks to the fact that you are certainly "with" them more than anything. Self reflection is a key component to being "with" your children.

    --Denise Duval, PhD, LCSW

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