Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So...Thankful Today

Today I am thankful there are other moms that share the same strong feelings that I have.

There are few things that I feel very strongly about when it comes to parenting.
Ok, that kind of came out wrong.
I feel very strongly about parenting and take the responsibility very seriously, but I am very aware that there are lots of ways to do things and I try to keep a pretty open mind. I think I do a pretty good job at this.

I try not to control everything and to let my kids learn through experience when possible and appropriate. I also try to let my kids be their own selves and try to be flexible to their needs. I think I do a pretty good job at this too.

There are very few things that I feel strongly enough about that I am not very flexible.
In fact, these very few things can make me extremely protective, and pretty worked up.

One of these things is my kids' modesty and privacy.

My Sister In law touched on some of these things on her blog yesterday.
It was like she was reading my mind, or over-hearing some of my recent conversations on the topic.

We have pretty clear guidelines on situations that are and are not appropriate when it comes to privacy and modesty. Some are common sense. Some are not so common.
I'm sure that more guidelines will come up as the need presents itself and I anticipate guidelines changing a bit as the girls grow up.

My concern is not only on their safety - although that is a huge concern.
I want to do all that I can to protect them. I want to teach them how to protect themselves and how to say "no" or "stop" or "I don't feel comfortable."

But I also feel strongly about building a foundation for them to live chaste, virtuous lives.
I don't want them to feel completely comfortable being naked around others or in situations that seem without consequence (i.e. "no one will no what we do behind this closed door"). I want them to see and treat their bodies sacredly, and reverently. I want them to be private and modest young women.

And so we teach them now. This foundation, in a way is an attempt to protect them and prepare them for the challenges and temptations that lay ahead. I try not to be too over-the-top controlling about the issue, because I'm aware that sometimes that can backfire.

We don't talk about being naked as something bad, or something we don't talk about. I don't teach them to be ashamed of their bodies or embarrassed by them. But we talk about keeping our bodies private and modest quite frequently. Even at home. Even around our family. And of course, we talk about the dangers of strangers.

I know that I cannot control everything that happens in my kiddos lives.
I know that I'm not meant to.
I know that I cannot always be there (and I actually know I'm not meant be).
I know that there will be good and bad choices made, by my kids and by others.
I know that things will not go exactly the way I want them to.
All I can do is do my best to teach my kiddos why these things are important, how they can best protect themselves, and set some ground rules for them to live by.
For their sakes - not just so Mom doesn't get mad.
And I hope and pray that something horrible doesn't happen to them.

I have to do my best to teach them, and then trust that things will be ok.

And I know that there are sometimes exceptions to the rules. But in my opinion, it is too much to ask a 2, 4, and 6 year old to be capable of making those judgement calls as to when an exception applies.

For instance, when is it ok to be naked with someone? Is it ok because we're in the bath? Is it ok because we're both girls? Because we're both kids? Is it ok because an adult told me it is ok? How well do I need to know them? How good of a friend do they need to be? Is it ok because I've known them my whole life or because I see them everyday? Or just because I'm related to them does it make it ok, even though this is the first time I'm meeting them or because I see them a couple times a year?

It can be confusing when things are allowed sometimes and not other times. And if I'm not always going to be there to tell them yes this is appropriate or no this is not, the rules are the rules. Always. In this case - we do not take baths with friends (or cousins) and we always keep our clothes on (even for dress up). Especially when Mom or Dad isn't there. We try our best to stick to our rules no matter what.

This is a tricky thing, because like most parenting issues everyone has their own ideas about what is appropriate and what is not. I don't expect everyone to feel the same way that I do. I don't even expect everyone to understand why I feel the way I do and why these things are so important to me. I am very sensitive to that. And in no way to I feel I need to share a list with everyone my kids come in contact with about things I do and don't approve of.

It's something I struggle with. It's hard for me to take a stand for the things I feel strongly about. Not hard for me to do, but hard for me to handle emotionally. I worry about making people feel like I judge the way they parent or that I'm trying to push my thoughts and feelings onto them. Because I'm not. I'm just trying to protect my kids and do what I feel is important for us. And that does not mean that I think they do not have the same intentions with their kids if they do not do things the same way as I do.

And because I also feel strongly about the importance of my children having experiences without me, I leave them in situations in the care of others, and hope and pray that their best interest is being considered and they are being protected. It is important to me that my kids know that there are people they can trust in this world besides Mom & Dad.

It is hard holding your ground as a mother.
It is hard when you feel very strongly to do things a certain way that not everyone else does.
It is hard saying no to your kid when other kids are allowed to do that same thing.
It is hard to explain why your answer is still no. No matter what.

But that's part of being a mom.
Arguably one of the most important parts.

I explain to my kiddos that my job as their mom is to love, teach, prepare, and protect them.
I explain that I say no sometimes because I love them and I am doing what I (and their dad) feel will accomplish one or more of my four main responsibilities.
I explain, and I pray that they understand.

So, today I am thankful to know that there is another mom out there that feels as strongly as I do about these things. It can be difficult in situations when other moms allow or even encourage some of the behaviors or situations I don't feel comfortable with, and I have to be the mean old mom that says no. I struggle with confidence as a mom and feeling comfortable saying "We do it this way, just because we feel like it's what we need to do."

I'm thankful that I feel supported in my efforts.
I'm thankful to know that it's ok that I feel like this is important.
I'm thankful to know that I'm not alone.

Wow...apparently I had a lot to say on the subject.
I guess I'm thankful also to finally get it all out! may also like:
::So...My Body
::Monday Memories 029: New Mom
::So...Things I'm Learning Through Motherhood::02

Thanks for stopping by!


scooping it up said...

I love this. I think you are such an amazing mother. I love being on the same page with someone about something, because I am constantly feeling horrible because of the ways I do things that end up inadvertently making those around me feel badly. I can do better at easing conversations, but I don't think changing my stance or standards is the right way either. Thanks for setting such a good example to me.

The Hungry said...

Hear, hear!