In some ways, having older kids is easier than having toddlers and babies. My kids sleep through the night and I don’t live in constant fear that they’ll do something like dash out into the street if I let go of their hands or that they’ll attempt to scale a bookcase if I turn my back for a second.
But there’s also much more to think about as the kids get older. There are so many fine lines of parenting, so many shades of gray.
And here’s the latest one I’ve been struggling with.
You see, I want my kids to be able to talk to me about anything. I want to be there for them and to listen to them.
I want them to know that they have a champion in me, that I will help them when they need it. I’m a mama bear and yes, I will stick up for my kids when they need it. They can know I’m in their corner.
But, here’s where I struggle.
When my kids are upset about something, I need to know the whole story.
It’s not that I don’t believe them. Or that I think they’re lying to me about what happened.
But, there are always multiple sides to a story. Or something that happened before the thing they’re upset about or afterwards. Something that I might need to know before I give advice and certainly before I’d take a situation to anyone else.
Maybe it’s a teacher who told my child his assignment was a zero. Understandably, my child might be upset about this. But before I talk to the teacher about it, I need to know if maybe it was a zero because it was due two weeks ago and that late assignments won’t be accepted.
Or maybe it’s a classmate who said something hurtful to my child. But it’s possible my child said something first or something afterwards.
It doesn’t mean that my child’s hurt isn’t still valid. Or that the situation that occurred is okay.
But I do need to know the whole story.
Sometimes kids leave out details on purpose and sometimes they leave them out because they’re so focused on the hurt that they can’t see anything else and sometimes because they see what was done to them as so much worse than what they did that they don’t see what they did as relevant. Kids aren’t the only ones who do this.
So I listen to my kids. And I support the best that I can. But then I have to find out the rest of the story. Without appearing like a skeptical mom who doesn’t believe them. Because I do believe in my kids… but it’s just not that simple.
Yet that attitude could lead my kids to not want to share anything with me, if they think I don’t take them at their word.
It’s just yet another balancing act that almost makes me long for the days when the hardest thing I had to do was get the kids down for their naps at the right time.