“Convenient” is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “suited to personal comfort or to easy performance” and as “affording accommodation or advantage”. It doesn’t really sound, or seem, like a word that you would use to describe a parent, right? At least not a good one.
Well, in this case, I am using it in that way to describe a parent. Who am I describing? Well, I am describing myself.
If you have been keeping up with my posts, you may have read one called “What’s Easy is Rarely Best”. In it, I shared how there are so many times that I gravitate towards easy decisions, rather than the best or most appropriate ones, in accordance with the situation and my suspected needs of my children.
This past week has been particularly challenging. With the start of summer, the kids out of school and their energy at an all time high, I am tired — really freakin’ tired. Add to that — a fifteen-month old who already behaves like she is three, two dogs dying for more attention and myself attempting to get some writing done each day — and you can imagine why I feel like my brain is going to explode. Still, do you know whose fault it is not, that I am on the verge of checking myself into the looney bin? It is not my children’s fault. And, because of this, I need to stop acting and talking like it is.
So, you are probably asking yourself, “when is she going to explain to me this whole convenient parent thing”? Here it goes.
What has become even more apparent to me this week, is that I pick and choose when to exemplify positive parenting behavior. On a daily basis, I make the choice to behave in the manner that I know is right and also decide to behave in the manner that I know is wrong.
Let me give you an example. There are so many times when I am with my children and one of them decides not to listen very well. Heck, its pretty much a daily occurrence for most of us, right? At some point each day, one of my kids has negative behavior and makes poor choices. What kid doesn’t? But you know what happens? I know from past experience, from advice, and from self-help parenting books, how to handle this kind of unfavorable behavior, but, I DON’T FOLLOW IT. Why?
What in the world am I doing, when I am reading and researching ways to improve my parenting, but then completely fail to implement any of what I have learned? You know what it is that I am doing? Do you know what that is called? It is called “convenient parenting”. Now, don’t confuse this with another type of convenient parenting which is described as parents who have adopted the TV (and other technologies) as a convenient distraction, and even as baby-sitters, for their kids. That is not what I am talking about here. My description of the convenient parent is a parent that ultimately means well, and has their children’s best interest at heart, but unfortunately is too lazy, tired, busy, stressed, or you name it, to always handle each situation in the most appropriate way, with an ideal outcome as the goal.
Listen, I am not saying that you should never mess up and I am not saying that you have to be perfect. But, what I am saying, more to myself than to anyone else, is that you have to find a way to maintain enough energy each day to try to be a better parent each day. There will be slip-ups and there will be blunders, but if there are certain values that you hold true for yourself — those same values that you are trying to instill in your children — then you have to stand by them and model them, at all times — even under stress and exhaustion.
For most parents, their children are the most important part of their lives. For those same parents, they are often searching to see, and seeking to implement, what is best for them — psychologically, physically and emotionally. However, for the “convenient parent,” implementation is a struggle. The cause for the struggle could be tiredness, stress, anxiety, or any number of things. But, this is when we have to step it up.
More than how physically tired I am, I am tired of how I have been turning “on” and “off” my good parenting. Good parenting should not be something that is periodic or fleeting — alternatively, it should be constant and consistent.
To avoid being a convenient parent, what I need to do is to find the energy each day (dig it out from somewhere) to make the correct parenting choices, even in challenging moments. This is going to require active and willing concentration, observation, and participation. It is also going to require a lot of trial and error. The convenient parent gives up when they run into trouble and challenges, whereas the non-convenient parent, continuously and tirelessly tries other methods, until one works. To not be convenient parents, we must possess a steady moral compass and exude emotional and physical strength.
Please hear me that I know and agree that so much of what I have said here is “easier said than done”. BUT…I’m tired of being a convenient parent. I am tired of only being a “good” parent in public, when it suits me or when I have the energy. I want to be a good parent and a positive role model all of the time. It is a lofty goal, but I’d rather be reaching to attain that, than to be known as a “convenient parent”.
Can you relate? If you can, I would love to hear from you in the comments.