The Knife's Edge of Parental Involvement

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Parenting in the age of social media is a new and uncharted challenge for our children, but I’m finding it to be a challenge for me too. And it comes down to all the quotes.

See, I’m a bit of a fitness junkie. Aside from my focus on parenting exceptional children both personally and professionally, fitness is my other passion. I enjoy working out. I enjoy feeling fit. I spend a lot of time learning about fitness as well as following certain fitness experts on social media. I see piles of social posts featuring beautiful bodies tagged with inspirational quotes along the lines of, “If you want it, you gotta work for it, ” or, “Never give up.” Essentially, in the fitness world it’s all about working for the next goal. Interspersed with all the fitness posts, I find just as many mommy quotes saying essentially the opposite. The mommy quotes are all about acceptance and being in the moment. “You are enough.” “Accept what is” “There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Just be a real parent”.

Whether fitness or mommy-focused, all those quotes land me on this knife’s edge that I feel we walk as parents: Keep striving to be a better parent while simultaneously accepting yourself for the parent you are now. So if I accept myself as the mom I am now, then why would I strive to be better? Wouldn’t that inherently mean I am not accepting myself? Obviously it’s not that black and white, but how do we decide as parents the places where we are enough and the places where we need to strive for better or more? The times to intervene and the times to leave it alone. Sometimes it really is good to dwell on a difficult parenting event in order to do better next time and sometimes you just have to let it go and realize whatever you brought to the interaction was good enough. But how do you figure it out in the moment it’s happening?

Nothing makes the knife’s edge more evident than the question of parental involvement at school. Especially for we who parent exceptional children. Case in point, I’ve recently been communicating with my child’s teacher regarding some ongoing behavior issues. Multiple emails have been exchanged and a few parent meetings have happened. I see some improvement, but not what I had hoped for by this point in the school year. At what point do I back off and let the school handle it, and yet when have I crossed a line into being too involved? My child has some unique needs and struggles and I want to make sure he’s getting the support he needs, and at the same time, this child needs to buck-up a bit and gain some social resilience. I think I’m still well poised on the knife’s edge in this case, but I wonder every day if I’m tipping too much to one side or the other.

I’d like to give a list of suggestions to help guide the decision making process about what is too much and what is too little involvement in your chid’s schooling, but such a list would have too many exceptions to be useful.

I think the best we can do is be more pro-active than reactive. Outside of that, check in with your support network every time you think you need to make a significant change in school involvement. And if you don’t think you can do that., shoot me an email. Happy to help.