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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How Do You Know When You've Entered Parenting 2.0?


The moment you give birth you officially enter Parenting 1.0.

Parenting 1.0 is defined by meeting the constant needs of your precious new child. When your baby cries, it is up to you to figure out why and make it stop. When your child is hungry, you're the one who has to feed them. Whether your child has only known a bottle or you are a hardcore breastfeeding mama, whether dinner is locally grown kale or Kraft mac and cheese, by the time your baby blows out the candle on their first birthday cake, you've got a firm grasp on how to keep them alive. Change the diapers, make sure the carseat is installed correctly, coerce them into a jacket when the mercury dips below 60. While I would never suggest Parenting 1.0 is easy (these have been some of the longest days of my life) it is fairly straightforward.

I think Parenting 2.0 starts around the time your child reaches age 5. By now they are using the bathroom all on their own and you've reached a truce regarding how much dinner needs to be eaten. You're no longer a slave to midnight feedings and you might even be one of those brilliant parents who've taught their kid how to turn on the TV in the morning.

Congratulations on nailing Parenting 1.0...and welcome to the murky waters of Parenting 2.0.

Parenting 2.0 is marked by the transition away from catering to the physical needs of your child. You still have to pay attention to the physical of course - did you brush your teeth? Have you eaten anything green today?- but far more energy is spent taking care of their emotional needs.

Parenting 2.0 is when people outside your family begin playing a bigger role in your kids' lives. This is the season you start to let go as they step out into the world on their own. When you have to watch from the sidelines when they stumble. When Band-Aids can't always fix the scrapes they get into.

This is the season you have to watch your son not make the team.

This is the season you lay awake late at night wondering how you can convince your daughter the mean girl at school is not really her friend.

When the big feelings in their heart comes out in words that you're supposed to do something with. Or harder, when the big feelings get lodged somewhere inside and you can sense them but you don't know how to reach them. You can see something going on but you're at a loss as to how to fix it.

This week while playing outside one of my older kids was blatantly disrespectful to a neighbor we know and love. And today my oldest child intentionally hurt a friend of his whose parents are dear friends of ours.

When our baby would wail at church and when I'd get a defiant NO! from my 2 year old in the middle of the grocery store, I felt empathy from onlookers. All infants cry, all toddlers throw tantrums. But my neighbor didn't smile and wave off my kid's sass the other day. And you can't put your 7 year old down for a nap and hope they wake up with a changed heart.

This is when we have to lean in harder. When bedtime becomes less about what song they want to hear from us and more about us taking the time to hear from them. Stealing a line from my pastor, I make it a point to ask my 6 year old nightly, "how's your heart?"  I try to take the time daily to talk about anything new that has gotten inside their hearts, to listen to their hurts and their hopes. To give them big kid tools to deal with the big bad world they are walking into each morning.

When the time you spend tending to their heart overtakes the time you spend tending to their body, you've officially entered Parenting 2.0. Welcome to the big leagues.


P.S. I have suspicions Parenting 3.0 begins at puberty. I do not know nor am I interested in learning anything about Parenting 3.0 yet so please leave me be in my ignorant bliss.

 
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