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Mommy and the Joyful Three

“Feast or Famine” Parenting


A couple of weeks ago, I went to dinner with a friend and my mom. The conversation fell on parenting; and I lovingly joked with my mom about some of my teenage mishaps.

My mom’s tone suddenly became serious as she explained to my friend.

“I now see that it was the lack of concern from my own mom that led me to be overprotective and maybe even a little over judging towards Erin. My mother never questioned me. She did not care who I hung around with, what I did or where I was. I would always wish she would just show me that she was concerned for my well being.”

God has really been working miracles in my relationship with my mom. He is opening our hearts and eyes towards each other more and more each day.

As a child, I felt my mom’s judgment meant she did not love and accept me. But, it seems, she was trying to show she loved me by challenge my choices.

So, how do I parent?

Discipline is hard for me. This is causing problems as my children grow older.

My youngest daughter is obsessive about cleaning her room, creating a safe haven from my messy chaos. I am not an organized person, so she stresses herself out over my organizing.

At my parents’ home, dinner was and still is the same time every night, at the table. When I first moved into my home with my husband years ago, I remember saying to him, “we can eat dinner in front of the television!” He laughed at my excitement, but agreed.

So, we did, for about a year. Every night, take out and sitcoms were what we consumed. Aside from the weight gain, I gained nothing from this small indulgence I always envied in other family’s homes.

Do you see the danger here? 

My own mother feeling starved for structure left me starved for freedom. I, feeling starved for freedom, am leaving my own daughter hungry for structure. The happy medium was ignored by our need to overcompensate. I call this the “Feast or Famine” complex.

It works in many ways. Perhaps the poverty stricken child may grow to put too much emphasis on money, while a loved starved child may grow to over-indulge in emotional attachments that can be harmful.

The story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a prime example of this. Willy’s father would not allow him to eat candy, so Willy Wonka created his life upon the very thing that he felt he lacked as a child.

So, for what do you starve?

Going grocery shopping when you are hungry is always a mistake. Entering parenting famished for what you felt lacking in your childhood can be too. 

My own goal is to try and be more structured, but not overly structured. I want to find the happy medium and parent in a healthy and balanced way. I do not want to leave my children starving for anything.

I did this with dinner. We have had theme nights where we create crafts and recipes, and decorate around this theme. It’s not dinner and a sitcom; it’s better. I took my own need to differentiate dinner time and turned it into something positive rather than throwing food on the coffee table and turning on the television.

What’s your parenting style like? Is it starkly different from how you were raised? Have you found yourself overcompensating based on what you felt as a child?

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