Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Owning the Tough Parental Decisions

Big Little Wolf left a thoughtful comment (as always) on my last post that making the tough decisions as a single parent means we're that we're the ones left to help our children accept those tough decisions. I'd mentioned in that post that we have to own it.

In the beginning, I rarely made those tough decisions completely on my own. I went to friends and family, asking their opinions, and everyone would bring up great points from a different perspective that gave me a better idea of the big picture.

The hardest decisions usually came up when their dad was in jail. Do I tell the girls, do I shield them from it? I didn't want to lie to them on his behalf, but I didn't want to scare them too much, either. I took everyone's opinion into consideration, and figured out how to frame it with the help of a therapist. (And repeated this about 3 times.)

It was hard. They did struggle, and as BLW mentioned, I did have to deal with the fall-out. But again, I got help with that, and took them to a therapist (what we called a "feelings doctor"). They were always great about taking advantage of that, and not freezing up, but being open and honest with the therapist about what they were feeling.

After going through this several times, it hurt them less and less each time. As they grew in maturity, and knew they had many around them that loved them, they came to accept that his actions had nothing to do with them.

Our problems these days are of the much more, dare I say, "normal" variety. And as a mom, I have to deal with each and every single one of them. Or, I have to make the decision not to deal with the problem, and let the girls figure it out for themselves.

I still talk to friends and family about certain issues, I still appreciate the input they give me, and I still take full responsibility for the decisions I make. I can accept the consequences that come with my decisions because of my own faith that the decisions I made were the right ones.

Of course, I screw up now and again. I own up to those, too. I revise rules and tell them, yeah, that didn't work out. I explain when I think that it's valuable to them to understand, but I've also learned that sometimes, it's just best to shut the conversation down and move on.

I am extremely lucky to have amazing friends and family around me , but I'm finding myself making decisions more and more completely on my own. Which, actually, I hadn't really realized until sitting here, writing this. And hey, it only took me 8 years to get here!

Once I learned how to own that responsibility, without expecting or hoping anyone else would step up to the plate, I maintain that it's easier now on my own. Even if I start second-guessing myself, I don't need to worry about anyone else doubting me in front of the girls. I don't have to get anyone's permission to change the rules. The only relationships that I have to take into consideration are between me and my girls. Since the girls are always the reasons I make the decisions in the first place, I know I'm doing what I believe is right for us as a family.

Plus, I'm an admitted control freak. That helps, too.


BigLittleWolf said...

April, Thanks as always for your honesty (and thanks for the Link Love).

One of the helpful occurrences that develops over time as we parent on our own is having confidence in our ability to do so, and the maturity to know when we need a hand - and when relying on our gut and the experience of each child will steer us in a good direction. Not the only direction, but usually a good one.

Something else that helps?

The support of this online community. I only wish I had realized that and participated years ago. I am certain it would have eased my own single parenting journey.

Missy June said...

I realll appreciated what you wrote about self-validation. It's fantastic to glean from you (and others) who are farther down this road than me...thank you!