As I sit in the middle of raising my four children, I am looking around and seeing my friends and family all starting to embark on this new season of life. Yes, my husband and I got married young and had our kids young, however, I guess I forgot that meant we would grow up as we raised our kids and would constantly be that ‘trial’ relationship in our circles.
Heck, I sent multiple close friends a video showing them what the pre-teens is going to bring them (no, it’s not going on the blog, sorry.) So many of those friends were just contacting me a year or two ago asking about pregnancy and newborns.
No Sunshine & Rainbows Here
Our children are not perfect by any means, however, I try my best to provide for them a solid foundation in their chaotic life as a military kid during a pandemic. I mean I felt like my life was wild and I was an adopted civilian that took shots daily to grow with a dead adopted mother. (If you’re new here, welcome to the direct conversations and facts.)
I do what I have now called “One-Team Parenting” approach because I find the consistency across all facets is an overall win versus the short-term uncomfortableness.
If you haven’t read any of my blogs, then you may not be aware that I am immensely transparent. I will tell you anything you want to know, especially if you can help me learn from it, etc. I’ve noticed this can be a very intimidating trait to some people so if you’re not okay with being transparent then one-team parenting may not be for you. However, I encourage you to really push yourself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I have attended multiple meetings with doctors, school staff, coaches and more where they tend to hold their breath as they deliver news that my child is not *gasp* PERFECT! I have LITERALLY laughed in their faces before thinking how silly of them to think I would ever get upset about this. No level-headed human being believes they raise the perfect child…
Obviously somewhere this is getting lost in translation.
I sat down with my sons teacher and some specialty advisors to discuss his areas of opportunity. We are aware he’s had issues with speech and fine motor skills which allotted him guaranteed time to work with a speech and occupational therapists. Sweet! More team members! However, this meeting they wanted to discuss his reading and his comprehension of what he reads (or lack thereof.) They proposed additional one-on-one meetings with a special education teacher to help him catch up with. I sat there staring at my computer almost in a slow-motion type way. The Zoom meeting filled with at least a handful of professionals as they all held their breath and prepared for my reaction.
Why were they so scared? I quickly put them at ease and honestly surprised some of them when I said “Sounds great! I appreciate you guys helping him and if there’s anything I can do from the home front to help just let me know. Also, at what point do you think we should start considering to hold him back?”
I could HEAR the sigh of relief and the anguish wash away from their faces. Did I just roll over and give up on my child? Heck no! But i’m aware of my child’s limitations. Jameson is a beast in his own regard. The kid is insanely smart and his recollection on things is scary good. He also loves math and building things.
So he can’t read… ummmm…. *raises hand sheepishly*… the kid is still learning how to talk… am I the only one NOT shocked by his needing assistance in reading? I mean, come on, really?
After this meeting I reflected on other meetings that were of the similar structure where a ‘member of our one team’ was proposing to help our child and indicate that our child isn’t perfect and how more often then not, there was hesitation and angst surrounding their delivery until after they realized we weren’t upset. Are there parents that get UPSET about FREE help regarding specific areas? Should I be upset that he is qualifying for these specific areas? Is this a reflection of my ‘bad parenting‘ I did up until school?
Blame It On My Bad Parenting (mom-guilt)
Those answers are different depending on who you’re talking to and about what. There is one thing that remains the same though, kids will control what they can in the event their life/day/routine/etc. is disrupted. It’s my job, as their mother, to ensure they have a solid team of members to help support them through those changes and disruptions so they can grow and evolve to develop the skills needed. Stay away from the mom-guilt though, because that monster doesn’t need ANY fuel!
One – Team Parenting
So what do I mean by ‘One-Team Parenting?’ I mean exactly what it says… we are ONE TEAM. The wrestling coaches, the pediatric doctor, the school counselor, their homeroom teacher, the electives teacher, their behavior therapist, the speech therapist, the close friends/family that have direct access to my kids, etc. we are ALL ONE TEAM!
If I know there’s going to be a change or disruption that will cause waves of effects for that child, why on earth would I not make my team aware?
Identifying Accurately Behavior Issues and Root Cause
For example, Sophia just finished her therapy. Of course her teacher, school counselor and some other staff at the school are aware of this. In fact, so aware, that the teacher messaged my husband and I in the middle of the day JUST LAST WEEK to let us know that “Sophia wasn’t being her normal self.” and decided to prolong her testing (she knows about Sophia’s test-anxiety and had already eliminated that being the culprit for the out of normal behavior) and set up a lunch for Sophia with the counselor.
Would she have known that if I hadn’t told her? Or if Sophia hadn’t? Probably not, and she could have let her fail that test and be upset and have no idea why she wasn’t getting things. In reality, Sophia had an intrusive thought that she couldn’t practice her normal coping skills on because it’s a state mandated testing and she couldn’t make any noise nor get up and walk away so she quickly became anxious with no idea how to relieve the anxiety.
She now has a fidget toy to have during the testing to help prevent intrusive thoughts.
Little Johnny Isn’t Perfect
I am shocked by the amount of people who believe little Johnny is the best thing since sliced bread. Let me tell you something, it doesn’t matter if little Johnny walked at 9 months or 18 months. No one cares when little Johnny cut his first tooth and they’re certainly not focusing on whether he was potty-trained early or not. THAT’S OKAY!
This shouldn’t be a competition between a multitude of people who want the best for a child. This should be one team, one mission, help the child to be the best version of themselves that we can. Why is that so hard to comprehend? Is it out of fear of judgment?
My husband leaves frequently with the military. I let our children’s one team know pre-emptively before I even sit down and let the kids know. It’s pretty simple. “Hey, so dad’s leaving on _(insert round about date)_ and _(insert child name)_ doesn’t know yet, but I wanted to give you a heads up so in case you see any changes around that time you know what it may stem from. It’s not an excuse for them to misbehave but it can be an indicator they’re struggling to adapt and controlling what they can.”
This opens up the dialogue for that team member to ask for additional support. Sometimes they’ll ask me where he is going or what type of work he will be doing, pending which team member they are, and I answer accordingly.
For example, the teacher may need to know that we’re on different time zones cause dad’s on the other side of the world and the child may have issues adapting to a night time routine. Another example would be that dad is going to work on a training so the behavioral therapist team member finds it beneficial to know that dad is not in a combat-area. Further, some will ask if there’s anything they can do specifically to help such as some one-on-one time, a genuine ‘how are you doing with dad being away?’ and more!
I also will let the ‘one team’ know about return dates and any other situations that have gone on. This is to help truly solidify a a unified front that extends past just mom and dad and reaches out to teachers, therapists, doctors, coaches, etc. which are all ‘adult figures’ that the kids look up to and may go to seeking guidance and advice.
Importance of Unified Front
As most of you know, Sophia was hospitalized in August/September of 2020. Her teacher, her wrestling coaches, her primary doctor, her therapist, her school counselor and school assistant principal all knew about this before Sophia even came home from the hospital.
Why did I tell them so quick? Because I’m human! I told them as I was navigating a military lifestyle with 4 kids. It’s already hard enough to parent with my primary teammate constantly coming and going, so what would it be like if I kept track of who knows what, per kid, per team member?
That’s asinine and no where near realistic. I would rather over deliver and under promise, then under deliver and over promise. Essentially, I would rather give the team all the facts and they not need them, versus me not giving them enough facts and they need them.
This honestly seems very ‘obvious’ to me and I don’t mean that in a condescending way. I’ve learned through therapy lately that what’s ‘normal’ for one person isn’t normal for another. Hence me making this post. I am hopeful it can help someone out there. I’m sure there’s people who are screaming “Oh you’re breeching the child’s privacy!”
You’re right, I am breeching my child’s privacy by making sure the adults in their life know what’s going on and helps them transition by providing guidance and/or teaching coping/transitional skills. Give it a rest. I can explain what’s going on without going into detail.
Sophia’s agreed to me sharing her story with the amount that is on my blog, however, there is still an entire other half of that story that she is not ready to share, and may never be ready to share, and that’s okay! You know yourself and your kid best. Don’t be scared to ask for help!
Specialist versus Jack of All Trades
All too often it’s like we are just expected to know how to handle different things. One thing I have noticed in my life as a parent is that I’m super quick to go ‘I don’t know how to do this!!!’ I have said it in reference to managing mental health of children, raising mentally and physically healthy wrestlers who can weigh themselves in a HEALTHY way daily, bra-sizing, hair-doing and more!
I’m not a jack of all trades. I am very aware of my own limitations. I tell my own hair stylist “Do whatever you want, just no purple please.” They went to school for this specific thing, why do I think my non-educated opinion is more important than theirs? If she says the black’s gonna bleed into my blond then I trust her, cause she’s the PROFESSIONAL!
Prepared On All Fronts
I take that same approach with my kids and all their team members.
I genuinely view us as ‘One Team.’ Mila could be at wrestling practice and seem a little more quiet then usual. A coach can notice it and if they’re aware that her dad just left maybe do a little live wrestling with her and teach her a new move that she can get down perfect for when dad comes home. That simple act by a coach, can directly impact her entire view on dad being away and how to manage her feelings and cope with this situation.
I admit that I’m not a professional. I admit that my kids aren’t perfect. I admit that I’m more than willing to have help developing my children into productive human beings and just overall good-hearted adults. It’s okay to not be perfect, as a child and as a parent.
Who’s on your team?