Parents do different things for different reasons. Sometimes parents are inconsistent and irrational. Sometimes parents are just plain human. Sometimes they like to play along; sometimes they feel they need to bust myths.
And guess what? Sometimes parents act differently with one of their children than they do with any of the others–because that child is older or younger, or because that child interacts with the world kinesthetically rather than intellectually, or just because that kid prefers fact to fiction or vice versa.
This is a complex and interesting world we live in, and each of us creatures is complex and interesting in our own right. How I parent my children is different than how my husband does, even though we parent the same children in the same house. When I see my actions causing or potentially causing damage, I alter course. Similarly, as my children age and grow and read and experience, I alter my interaction with them.
My way is my way as yours is yours. What works for you and your family is the best thing that you can do–because I believe that you know your child best and know how they respond to the world and to you best. What I’m asking is that what works for me and mine, well, should be afforded the same gentle understanding.
Here’s the hill I would like to die defending: not all of us experience the world the same–and that is more than okay. It’s why we have Myers Briggs tests; it’s why educators learn to teach to multiple intelligences; it’s why good ministers learn to preach to the head, the heart, and invoke the hands. It is why Santa is a lie to some, a story to others; harmful to some; magical to others. It is why some people need to define “spirituality” in order to speak of it and others regard the definition and discussion, itself, irrelevant–superfluous, even.
And I know that this last paragraph is mumbo jumbo to some and crystal clear to others. And I’m okay with that.
Just as it makes some of you crazy for things not to be definable with delineated edges, it makes me crazy to think that things MUST be, in order for me to be able to communicate to the masses.
I am not a scholar. I am not an expert on raising children. I’m just a mom who lives a decent life and loves her kids more than she loves her stories–but loves her stories very, very much.
Families are like perennial social science projects. When I was 13, my mother went back to school to get her Masters in Early Childhood Education. My sister and I (the last two still reachable at our home who were well beyond her target range), were constantly subjected to new theories of parenting and child-rearing, to the point of us saying to her one day “Can you show us which chapter in the book you’re in so we know what to expect next?” or some such. And you know what? I trust my mother. I love her. And I think she was doing the best that she could whenever she learned something new. I think she still does.
If, at the end of this crazy life my children say the same thing about me, I’ll feel I’ve done well. Perfect? Not hardly. But well. And I can’t ask for much more than that.
If, on the other hand, it comes about that lying about Santa has stymied their growth and created social miscreants, I’ll take responsbility for that, as well.
But for now, the early evidence indicates a healthy sense of understanding of the difference between story, tradition, lies, and that different people will always, always, experience life differently. Even those who were raised by the same set of well-meaning parents with the same dysfunctional set of parameters. And, to me, that difference makes all the difference in the world.
So, please, please, please: enjoy your holidays in whatever way is authentic and wholesome to you and yours. And I, I shall do the same, while minding the difference.