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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

How are you most like your parents? How are your most different from them?

It was submitted by: http://thelieberfamily.com    

Reading my secret subject this month literally made me cringe. I procrastinated writing for days, when I finally did write, I wrote…I deleted…I wrote again…I deleted again. Now here I am at the last minute trying to throw something together. The thing is I’ve been estranged from my parents for almost 6 years. This topic hit me hard, it took me back to places I’d rather not visit, emotions I thought I’d gotten in control, feelings I positively believed I’d handled. I’ve always prided myself on my transparency. What you see is what you get, and I’ve strived to always be honest about my struggles in pretty much every area of my life, except this one. It hurts too much. I don’t know that it will ever not hurt. Has what I’ve been through and experienced changed the way I parent or view parenting?  Absolutely. Someday I might be ready and willing to talk about familial estrangement and how it not only changed my life, but changed the way I think and feel as a parent.  I’m just not there yet, and I can’t figure out how to write about this subject without going there, and I’m just not ready to go there. Forgiveness is a tricky thing. I’ve learned it’s not something you do just once and all is forgotten. Forgiveness is a daily practice.  Some days I’m better at it than others. Today is not that day.

So, I decided to focus instead on questioning whether parenting is harder today than it was when I was a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. I saw this meme on Facebook and it made me laugh and gave me this idea for a spin on my secret subject this month.

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Can you relate?

It’s enough to make your head spin.

Is parenting harder today? The short answer is no. Parenting IS hard, regardless of decade or century, time or place. In my opinion, the biggest difference that exists today that makes parenting seem so much harder is the judgment. Everyone has an opinion about how YOU should raise YOUR kids and they aren’t shying away from feeling they have the right to tell you all about it.

I remember riding my bike to the local 7-11 with my allowance money and buying all the candy I could afford. My sister would ration hers out so that it lasted a long time, but not me. I ate all that candy in pretty much one sitting and then plotted and schemed to figure out how to get into my sister’s stash. I saw a mom on Facebook get absolutely reamed as a bad mother because she bought her daughter the infamous unicorn Frappuccino at Starbucks. Because it was her daughter’s birthday. Because her daughter loved unicorns. This poor mom was forever stamped and labeled by strangers as winning the title for Worst Mom Of The Year award. Clearly she doesn’t love her kid, otherwise she would NEVER let her have a beverage filled with so much sugar and artificial ingredients and colors.

Everyone is an expert on how to raise YOUR kids, except you.

I’m sure everyone remembers the tragic death of the gorilla, Harambe, in the Cincinnati Zoo that was killed after a 3 year old climbed into his enclosure. The mother that took her eye off of her child for probably 2 seconds, received death threats and screams of outrage that her children be taken away from her.

We are so quick to jump on the parenting fail bandwagon. Is it because it makes us feel better about our own parenting? When did we become so unforgiving and harsh to each other? Certainly there are bad parents out there that probably deserve condemnation, censure, critical and harsh judgment and shouldn’t be allowed in the presence of children ever. I’m not talking about those parents and I think most of us know the difference. It’s become almost an olympic sport to publicly eviscerate any parenting style that differs from our own or what has been acknowledged as politically correct.

I don’t know about you, but I fail as a parent ALL THE TIME.  Like many other parents, I’ve felt the sting of judgment from my peers, the looks, the “well-intentioned” advice and opinions. I’ve somehow resisted the strong urge to punch all of them in the face. I feel that entitles me to an award of some kind! I don’t need you to tell me how I’ve failed, there are hundreds of articles published daily all over the internet to ensure I never feel good about the decisions I’ve made as a parent, how I’ve failed my kids on some level and how messed up they are in general.  I mean I’ve raised three millennials, and apparently they are the WORST generation EVER. (insert sarcasm)

I think most of us are doing the best we can. I believe two basic things as a parent.

  1. I neither deserve all the credit nor all the blame for how my adult children have turned out, the decisions they make, the people they’ve become.  They are autonomous creatures unto themselves navigating the same murky waters, making similar mistakes or inventing new ones all on their own. They are human. I am human. We are perfectly imperfect and made in His image, meant to be loved, cherished, protected, accepted and embraced for not only our similarities but also for the things that make us beautifully unique and different.
  2. Forgiveness. Unfortunately parenting is a learn as you go type of education, and it’s not one-size fits all. Forgive yourself. As a parent, show your kids you can admit when you are wrong. You can own your mistakes. The words “I’m sorry” go both ways.  They will fail you as children, and you will fail them as parents. Forgiveness. It’s one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal. There needs to be more of it in the world today. We are quick to judge, slow to forgive. We need to turn that concept on its head, judge less and forgive more. No one has it all figured out. No one.

If you see a mom or dad struggling with their kids today, give him/her a word of encouragement. Even a smile. A sympathetic nod. Let them know and feel that they are not in this parenting thing alone, they are not doing it all wrong, and that you’ve got their back. Remember that golden rule we learned in Kindergarten? If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say anything at all. Resist that urge to make a snap judgment about a parenting style you witnessed at your kids school or in line at the grocery store or at a restaurant and then post about it on Facebook so all your friends can jump on the parenting fail bandwagon making you feel justified and vindicated, confident in the knowledge that you are at least better than one parent out there. If you’re like most parents, you beat yourself up all the time about the mistakes you’ve made, you don’t need someone else swinging that bat for you. You need someone to take the bat away and give you a hug instead. Tell you it’s going to be okay. You are not alone. You are not a failure. You’ve got this. We’ve got this. Together.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                   http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen      http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Confessions of a part-time working mom            http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Not That Sarah Michelle                    http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Climaxed                                    http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

 

I’m Proud To Be…

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

What nationalities are you comprised of and how do they reflect on the person you are?

It was submitted by: http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

“Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.” Walt Disney

I’ve been thinking that if I’d gotten this question a year ago, or even 6 months ago, I would have approached it or thought about it quite differently than I do so today.  To be honest, I’ve never really given much thought to my heritage or nationality.

I’m an American.

I’m white.

I’m parts Native American (Osage and Cherokee), Scottish and maybe Irish (probably wishful thinking, but with my name being Shannon and all…)

I’m a woman.

I’m a mother.

I’m a wife.

I’m a daughter, sister, aunt and cousin, etc…

Some of those things define me more than others.

I’ve probably felt as if I belonged more to America than a particular ethnic group.  What does being an American mean?  These days I wonder.

As a general rule, I avoid politics.  I’m too emotional, passionate, defensive, strong-willed and opinionated to enter into such discussions lightly.  I tend to take differing opinions personally, as if my very personhood is being attacked or threatened.  I know my limitations.  I’d like to keep my friends, so I keep quiet.

I can tell you what being an American means to me.  I think that how I personally define what it means to be an American defines the kind of person I am or aspire to be.

“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.” Barack Obama

I feel we’ve entered into an era of extreme Nationalism, where the idea of patriotism is being confused or misconstrued, twisted into something self-serving, hateful and largely based on fear and bias.

“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” Charles de Gaulle

I love my country.  I love her beautiful diversity, a rich tapestry of different cultural and ethnic identities, religions and faiths.  A rainbow of colors and ideas, explosive and expressive, reflective and representative of the freedoms that brave men and women have fought, bled and died in pursuit of since the birth of this great nation.  I’m not threatened by that which is different, I embrace it, it inspires and motivates me.  I don’t believe in a world that divides people into an US versus THEM.  I don’t worry that God is on my side but whether or not I am on HIS side.  I’m pretty sure Jesus asked for a longer table, not a higher wall.  Ideologies built on hate and fear aren’t destroyed by the policies, philosophies or ideas based upon those same emotions.  Ideologies constructed out of those negative and destructive emotions are destroyed brick by brick only by love, by acceptance, by inclusion, by forgiveness and by understanding.

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.” Clarence Darrow  

America, for all her imperfections and faults, IS a great nation.  Patriotism should not be confused with jingoism, which by definition refers to a country’s advocacy for the use of threats or actual force in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests.  I rebel against the idea that there is “only enough” for SOME people.  America embodies the hope that anything is possible for anyone willing and able to dream.  Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” The American dream is an iconic part of our identity.  It is our promise.  Our hope. Our past, present and future.  Being American means we embrace and accept our imperfections as a nation, as a fallible and fragile people, but we work to overcome our faults, right our wrongs.

Being American defines me.  Being American means I strive to learn that which I don’t understand.  It means I embrace inclusivity and acceptance from people or ideas that might be different.  I see the value in the uniqueness of expression.  My growth, spiritually, mentally and emotionally is sparked by sharing ideas and experiences with cultures both ethnically and culturally diverse.  My belief in God is strengthened by these differences, not weakened.  America embodies hope.  Being an American means I’m an extension of that hope which should be reflected in the love and respect I hold for those that may not look like me or think like me. I believe in the free exchange of ideas, beliefs and experiences because it contributes to the vitality of our great nation and enriches humanity as a whole. As corny as it sounds, I do believe good trumps evil and that love conquers all.

“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing.  But why should love stop at the border?” Pablo Casals

I don’t know if I answered the question.  I’m not opting for a soapbox or a sound bite, these are the feelings I truly believe and embrace when I ask myself the question, “What does it mean to be an American?” I might have completely gone off script but these thoughts have been weighing on my heart recently and this topic and/or question felt like a path I could take to unburden myself, share my thoughts and my fears in the little environment I’ve created to experience the freedom of my emotions, such as they are.

I feel that being an American is a privilege, and I don’t take the rights and freedoms I enjoy for granted.  Despite the uncertain and turbulent times enveloping our nation, I feel optimistic and hopeful about our future.  I’m proud to be an American.  It is our differences, our unique voices and perspectives woven together that make up the rich tapestry of our Nation.  We don’t always get it right, but we never give up. ❤

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy         http://dinoheromommy.com/

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver        http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope                 http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom       http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Southern Belle Charm                          http://www.southernbellecharm.com

The Angrivated Mom                          http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Climaxed                                           http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com