What are our goals in parenting? We often talk about our styles and our methods, but sometimes we have to sit down and see if those styles and methods actually help or hinder us from our overarching goals for parenting in the future.
I started taking my son to swim lessons when he was six months old. Because my husband and I like to go diving, we often travel to beach locations and I wanted him to know the basics of how to swim. He’s not great at it as a toddler, and we have to watch him very carefully and are always right there with him now, but he is used to the water and is slowly improving and getting better at swimming around the pool and shallow water.
One day, we hope he’ll not only be able to swim well on his own, but dive, surf and enjoy the ocean like we do.
Parenting is basically like this – you lay the groundwork, and early on are there in the pool with them at every lesson. Slowly it starts to get easier – at three you are often sitting at the side of the pool, watching the swim instructor teach your son how to blow bubbles and pull himself up the side and out of the pool. He looks over and wants your encouragement, but he no longer needs you to be right there, holding his head above the water.
That’s what we are doing as parents – preparing kids to swim themselves – first with us, then with the instructor doing the majority of the work and us sitting on the side and finally they will go themselves slowly, slowly gaining confidence and skill in life as they become more and more independent. Someday, my son will be able swim independently, but that process is a long journey, one that is years in the making.
Keeping this goal in mind – that one day our kids have to be able to face the adult world independently and boldly and hopefully enthusiastically and with a sense of joy and excitement is a somewhat sobering one, but it helps me keep focused day by day. It also makes it easier to not see the little setbacks in the journey as failures. They are just bumps in the road.