Being a parent is a big responsibility! What other job requires on the job training, very little guidance or need for qualifications? And with this, parents are the first to be blamed when things go wrong with their child. I understood this even before I took on the role as a parent. I worked with children and families and saw the stress and guilt parents felt as their child went through rough stages in their development.
Now it’s my turn to try to help my children get through a rough patch in their development. My children are in transition and are, for the most part doing very well! My son has transitioned to kindergarten seamlessly. His acquisition of the Spanish language is incredible. He is one of the few children in his class who has knowledge of the Spanish alphabet and phonetics, thus making him ready to embark on reading…in Spanish! My daughter is doing well attending 1 preschool and has started taking dance classes and is thriving.
Even with the successes, there are some changes they do not understand, and will take some time to fully grasp. The custody arrangement has changed. They used to see their father every other week and stay with him the entire week. Now they see him (approximately) 3 weekends a month, and unfortunately for the kids, the phone calls FROM him happen every few days. My daughter calls him often. My son does not like calling him. Even though my son does not want to call his father, he misses him immensely. He is 5 years old and just wants to see his daddy. Every now and then his effect will change and he will start to cry and it’s because he misses his dad and wants to go to his house.
How do I explain the court system to a 5-year-old? How do I explain why daddy picks him up on some Fridays, not all of them? And when he asks why he doesn’t stay at daddy’s house too long, do I reply, “because that’s what the courts say?” Of course not! I do the best I can to let him know he will see his dad soon. We have a calendar so he can mark off the days…but I know that’s not enough. I allow him to draw pictures when he is sad…but that’s not enough. When he is missing his father I ask if he wants to call him and my son says no. So now what?
Now is when I take a step back and acknowledge my limitations as a parent, and in my case, as a Child Development Specialist. Even with my degrees, my knowledge of emotional development, brain development, with an understanding of what he can and cannot comprehend at 5 years old, I need to admit that it’s not enough. My limitations as a parent are exposed. I cannot bring book knowledge and professional expertise and apply it to my baby boy. My emotions are attached, my heart is attached and quite honestly, I don’t know what to do help him “feel better.”
I know what will help my son, I know what he needs…but I have no power over making those things happen. So I do the next best thing I know how to do as a parent…I utilize my resources and think about what I have suggested for parents in the past. What is taking place in my son is so confusing…how could it not be? It hurts his feelings, it makes him sad and when he is really sad and confused, he becomes withdrawn.
I’m grateful for OTHER child development professionals who I can call on to help me, my daughter and my son through this transition. Yes, my limitations have been exposed, and that’s ok. We all have limitations. We all come to a point where professional knowledge plays no role in the life of your kids. So with that, I allow my son to cry, I pray for my son and I do my best to guide him through this…with the help of other professionals!
As a parent, never be afraid to admit your limitations, to expose your vulnerabilities and to reach out for assistance. Yes, society EXPECTS us to have all the answers, but we don’t. Sometimes the best answer is to ask someone else for the answer! This will show tremendous strength in you! It takes a strong parent to entrust your child with another person. You know your child, you know their needs and it truly is O.K. if the information or ideas do not come from you.