There are lots of new words out there lately. Watch the news, listen to your kids, read stuff online, your are bound to hear words that never existed before and that your grandparents wouldn’t understand. Words like affluenza – the inability to make good judgments due to excessive wealth, ecotourism – vacationing with a goal to improve the environment, puppernecking – the act of slowing down in order to look at a dog while driving, and my current favorite, situationship – the new term for a complicated relationship, are popping up everyday. Thus, my self-manufactured word: momipulate. At first I couldn’t decide if it referred to a mother who had been manipulated by her children, or if it described the actions of a manipulative mother. After some thought, I came to the conclusion that it was exactly the word I needed to remind me to refrain from becoming too involved in my kids’ business.
Now, I’m not talking about completely stepping out of your kids’ lives. If kids are involved in any destructive behavior, by all means, do whatever is necessary to squash it like a bug. Drugs, alcohol or dangerously promiscuous behavior: get in there and be a parent! Grades dropping like a sack of rocks: get involved, call a teacher, do something. Do not simply stand back, shrug your shoulders and let your child enter a death spiral when it comes to important things. If you notice your child is hanging out with the wrong crowd, do something! Some things are worth momipulation and these definitely are.
I’m talking about the normal friends/relationship drama. Girls on the volleyball team making a big deal about who got what position? Do not get involved! Do not call the coach, do not pick sides, do not complain to another mom. Do suggest your child have a team centered attitude about it, do suggest she have a civil conversation with the coach if she feels she must, do tell her to let it go and just be the best player and friend to her teammates that she can be. Relationship issues: you can not pick your child’s significant other. Hopefully, by the time he or she is old enough to date, you have instilled the values that are important to you and you have identified the characteristics that make a person desirable.
I know it kills me to watch my children do something that I think they will regret. When this happens, I need to remind myself that I have done my best to prepare them for this decision. I have attempted to teach them, and model for them, a mature and responsible attitude. I have encouraged kindness, grace, and mercy and to put others before themselves but not at the expense of being a doormat. Knowing this makes stepping back a bit easier. Trusting that they will use the tools I’ve tried to give them helps, as does keeping the lines of communication open. There have been lots of times when we’ve discussed an issue and one of my children has walked away having looked at all sides, yet wasn’t given a solution. In the end, they need to make their own choices even if they are wrong. That is how people learn. Being manipulated by a parent would only take that process away and may stunt their emotional growth.
That being said, will you never be tempted to get involved when you shouldn’t? Of course not! I have approached a coach to give him a piece of my mind and then chickened out and simply thanked him for being so involved in the community and dedicating so much of his time to our children. I have tapped out a carefully worded text to one of my kids’ boyfriends only to delete it before I hit send. What kept me from doing these things? One word – momipulator. I just don’t want to be one.