My First New Role Model
Shortly after I decided Mama Bear (and all her hibernating) would no longer serve as my parenting role model, I caught a moment of some Discovery Channel show about a mother peregrine falcon, the fastest living thing on earth when she dives through the air. It changed my life.
The falcon leaves her chicks in the nest. She flies off, letting them fend for themselves as far as their young age allows. She seems not to worry about choking hazards (or SAT scores), but when the danger gets real, this chick doesn't PLAY. If pelicans get too near her cliffside nest, Mama Falcon dives in at 200 mph to save those babies. She knocks her giant enemies right out of the sky, gracefully landing back at home while the pelicans drop awkwardly into the ocean.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my new role model: the Mother Peregrine Falcon. I long to know my parenting priorities as well as she. I too want to trust my children's ability to survive the injurious world with their own strengths and skills. But when very real predators threaten my teenagers, may I have the good sense to swoop in and save them.
Watch Teenagers like a Hawk. (Or a Falcon.)
Mama Bear can have her nap; my time in the classroom taught me vigilance. We must be as fierce as birds of prey if we want to keep our sons and daughters safe in the hallways and highways of adolescence. I noticed this: parents who KNOW their teenagers--who watch them with the same detachment and same diligence as the falcon--have better luck getting wayward kids back on track.
Freedom, Boundaries, comme les francais
I love Pamela Druckerman's examination of freedom within boundaries in Bringing Up Bebe. I think it is a good read for parents of teens as well as little ones (as I have mentioned a time or two, I believe teenagers=toddlers). Her discussions of Piaget and Rousseau shed light on those pesky developmental stages de-railing so many families raising young adults. It's a good read; enjoy it; it might stir nostalgic, loving feelings about the person presently causing you such profound distress.
Let us provide those boundaries as well as the freedom to test them. Let us watch our teenagers from a respectful distance so we know when they are in trouble. Let us PROTECT them from real and present danger. Let us HONOR their ability to meet challenges and grow into the happy, responsible adults we have always dreamed they'd become.
For me, it begins with examples of parents I admire, and with good old mother falcon.