Balancing Act

steel balancing scale

I’ve thought quite a bit about balance, and it’s a concept I try to apply to my life whenever I can. In fact, one of my personal jokes is “most things in moderation”. ‘Cause after all, if ALL things were in moderation then I’d be back to an extreme, right?

Right. Okay. Enough with the pitiful humor and back to the thought of the day.

Balance. Well, one way to think about it is scales. When it comes to the boys’ nutrition, balance means making sure that we hit all the food groups. Sleep needs to be balanced with wake time. Responsibility balances against play. That sort of thing.

The balance I’m interested in today has less to do with scales and more to do with duality. This is a simplistic claim, but I believe there are 2 sides to everything. Where there’s good, there is also bad. If you find an advantage, there will also be a disadvantage. Show me a critic, and I’ll find you a fan.

How does this apply to parenting, you may ask? For starters, there’s not an easy answer to most child-rearing issues. There are principals that have been proven to be true over the years, but even those principals don’t always agree with one another. What works for one family may not work in another.

I’ve run into the duality thing a lot in online groups. Seems like whenever like-minded people start talking, it doesn’t take long for that group to start reinforcing the idea that their way of doing things is the one and only right way. Sometimes this evolves into a situation where anyone who deviates from that one true way is to be pitied or scorned. The problem here is one of balance…when we start extolling the virtues of one approach to the point of being unable to tolerate the existence of alternatives then we’re off balance.  Being wholeheartedly in favor of something is an extreme, and a wise individual will keep an eye on his or her own heart and behavior in that case.  It’s not bad to have an extreme here and there in life.

Remember?  Most things in moderation…

For the record, I’ve seen it in more than one group. I’m not picking on anyone specific here, just commenting on human nature. I’ll be the first to say that I’ve made the very same mistake.

In conversation, the concept of balance is never far from my mind. If I’m talking to the children, I try very hard to present the pros and the cons of the topic. My aim is to give them as much information as I can and keep exposing them to the ideas that life has complexity and depth. While we believe in absolutes such as right and wrong, there are also relativities as a part of every-day living. Politics, for example. Choose any die-hard insert political preference label here, and you’ll find that they can’t agree with all or even most of the politicians ascribing to that same label.

I also apply that attempt at balance to my writing here on the blog.  If I tell you about a parenting technique or schooling approach, I’m going to do my best to give you the pros and the cons.  I’ll tell you what works for me and what doesn’t.

I’ll also tell you that just because it works for me, it may be something you’d like to try.  I won’t tell you that my way is the one and only solution.  There can be vast differences in temperament and philosophies from one family to the next.   I’m not going to tell you that your parenting is rotten or that you are ruining your children’s lives just because you and I approach life from different angles.  If you’re abusing your kid, then all bets are off, of course.

Am I going to get this right every time?  No.  I am a deeply flawed individual and I make mistakes every day.  The good news is that my parents are deeply flawed individuals, and I survived.  My children will survive me, and their children will survive them.  We’re human.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that my parents ALWAYS had my best at heart.  Did they get it right every time?  No.  Do they still do things that hurt me now?  Yes.  But it’s never been about hurting me.

It’s about loving your kids, doing your best to bring them up to be the best adults they can be with as many advantages as you can give them.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to be balanced.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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  • MichelleVan December 12, 2007, 6:45 am

    I love this post. I know that if we spend time on one side of the balance or the other we can come off as extreme or nutty, when all we are trying to do is hold our position. But that’s the point isn’t it? By standing firm in a position, we loose the grace and love we are striving for. When I first became a mom I knew I’d never do fast food. I was steadfast and snotty around others who did. Now I know the virtues of a quick hamburger (occasionally) when a child is hungry at 2:00 pm. I’m a vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean my family has to be.

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  • Karen (Karooch from Scraps of Mind) December 12, 2007, 6:46 pm

    A great philosophy Amy. We can only do the best we can and look at each situation as objectively as we can. Of course our personal biases will always influence us bat that is part of being human.

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  • Mary December 12, 2007, 6:58 pm

    Michelle, I love your comment on fast food. When the kids were little I was a over the top health food fanatic……somewhere along the line I’ve gone way back the other way. We’re just now starting to swing back to the healthy middle. I groaned when I saw Amy discussing balanced diet. Yikes! Did she see the sloppy joes and chips I had here for lunch. Hey! I made it with ground turkey and whole wheat buns does that count?
    This whole balance issue is so important. I know in other areas in life I’ve had times when I’ve been unbalanced and argumentative about a view. When it comes to right and wrong though there is a point where you do need to take a stand. I hate to cause strife so I tend not to take a stand even when I should….drives my husband nuts. However, on the back side, I’ve learned that if I get bent out of shape whenever anyone disagrees with me I would be too stressed out. If the issue is not that important it is easier to just let it roll off my back and out the door.

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  • Michelle (beartwinsmom) December 13, 2007, 9:20 am

    Hey, isn’t balance a chocolate cake in one hand and a diet drink in the other? (wink)

    How true about the “show me a critic and I’ll show you a fan”. Excellent point, Amy!!

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  • Ronli October 28, 2008, 7:51 am

    Thanks for writing this.

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  • michelle obama fan March 31, 2009, 1:09 am

    Wow this is a great post! Thanks for sharing the useful information. Hope to see your new posts.

    Reply
  • Amy April 14, 2009, 10:40 pm

    Michelle, Yikes! I didn’t mean to wander off and ignore you. Diet drinks, ewww! Sugar all the way, baby! Or coffee. I could do chocolate cake and coffee. Shoot. Now I’m hungry.

    Ronli, you’re welcome. Thanks for stopping.

    michelle obama fan, thanks. Looking forward to seeing you around. 🙂

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