Friday, January 7, 2011


It seems it's all about balance.

It starts at a young age.  Infants balance to hold up their head, then sit, and before long they learn to stand and then walk on their own.  They have to practice a lot to gain that balance in order to proceed to the next level.

As young children, we continue to balance our bodies to gain motor control.  Running, hopping, throwing, riding a bike are all skills that require us to practice over and over in order to gain the balance and control we need to improve.  We also must start to balance our needs and wants.  We must learn the balance in social situations--learning to share, but also to stand up for ourselves when we are being taken advantage of.  It's sometimes a fine balance that takes a time and a lot of practice to understand.

As older children, we begin to learn the balance of school work versus play time.  We begin to have to balance our time in order to get our chores done, to juggle commitments, to complete projects.  We may even start to learn to balance a meager budget of birthday money and allowance.  The social balance is still there.  And as peer pressure begins, we have to balance the opinions of our friends with the opinions of our parents.

As teenagers, we add to the mix balancing our time and responsibilities between school, work, extra curricular activities, and family.  We also begin to learn the balance between developing friendships and developing a special relationship with our first love.  The balance between right and wrong often challenges us with risky behavior as a teen.  We learn to balance a checkbook.  We learn to balance several deadlines at once, while also balancing our sleep schedule.

As young adults, the balance might be figuring out how to get the bills paid, while also having fun.  It also often involves balancing a load of classes at college or work responsibilities.  We balance our feelings of love and lust, and of love and hate.

As parents we not only must continue all of these balancing acts in some shape and form, but we also must begin to teach our children balance in their own lives.

Balance is a skill.  It takes practice.

We don't expect perfection from our infants and young children learning to balance their bodies in space.  We offer them many opportunities to practice, challenge themselves, and sometimes stumble and fall.  We also offer them encouragement and praise their accomplishments.

Somewhere along the line we begin to discourage the practicing aspect of balance.  We begin to expect perfection, perhaps even before we allow ourselves or our children to stumble a bit.  We forget that we have to work through the struggles in order to grow and develop.  We wouldn't expect a child to take off on bicycle the first time they ride it.  We expect them to struggle and face the consequences of a fall to the pavement.  We also shouldn't expect all these other skills to just fall into place without practice and being allowed to fail a few times and face the consequences.

We also need to practice balancing as parents.  We strive to do our best for our kids, but we also must forgive ourselves when we lose our balance.  We should recognize the consequence, and practice some more.  We should not expect perfection from our kids, but also not from ourselves.  Balance is a skill that will always be evolving in our lives.

It's all about balance.

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