On a recent run, I had a realization about my parenting. (I think most of my realizations in life come on runs. I think that’s where God likes to talk to me.) Lately, I’ve noticed my firstborn is really starting to “follow the crowd” at school. He’s skipping out on participation and theme days because all of his friends aren’t participating. This same boy who just a few months ago loved to do all the “extra” activities has now decided that he’s too cool to participate because his friends don’t want to.
I’ve tried to reason with him that it’s actually great practice to stand up and do what you do, even if your friends don’t think it’s a “cool” choice. After all, the battles he’s facing now with peer pressure are nothing compared to what he’ll face in the next 5-10 years. I want to set him up for success in life by being able to confidently make his own choices, even if no one else is making that same choice. The ol’ “if your friends are jumping off a bridge” conundrum.
My realization came less with how things are going with Landon (my firstborn), but more with how I’m handling my secondborn – Brooks. Brooks is the epitome of “leader” – that boy doesn’t follow any crowd. When everyone else is playing a game, he’s completely content to go do something else he wants to do. He has this cool confidence with his choices. And the challenge is trying to “break him” of always doing things his way.
I realize that I have to be more careful with what I’m teaching him. He’s a leader and outside of the box thinker, and I don’t want him to learn to “be part of the crowd”. It’s really the balance of pushing him to lead but also helping him recognize times when he needs to follow (i.e. when the class is working on an assignment is not the best time to ‘do his own thing’).
I admire Brooksie’s confidence and the way he doesn’t do the same thing that everyone else does. But with that means he’s going to defy my directions more often and push harder to do things his way.
Alternately, while Landon is a rule follower and often very quick to obey anything I ask him to do, I’ve also found he’s quick to follow the guidance of his friends.
Thus my parenting struggle, pushing one to disobey the rules a little more and gain more of his own voice, while finding small ways to keep my independent spirit in line so he isn’t always trying to run his own show and he knows when he it’s time to comply.
Two sons. Complete opposites. Parenting challenge.