Why I Broke My Daughter's Arm
Before you reach for your phone to call child protection services, give me a moment to explain.
It was a blind, hurried endeavour to ensure my six-year-old had some sort of athleticism that culminated in a trip to the emergency department to face puzzled doctors who wanted answers.
"Mummy did it. She hurt me," Halena said, eyeing me worriedly. She was right, I broke her arm. In two places.
"But it came from a good place," I said, pleading with the doctors.
Confusion ensued as my daughter cried and I choked back tears. So, let's rewind.
Halena is in kindergarten and her first soccer gala day was fast approaching. Despite my husband being good at pretty much all sport, our daughter seemed to have inherited my hand-eye coordination (which is non-existent on a good day) and two left feet.
Like most parents, I want to ensure my child is less screwed up than me, so I did what any good over-involved parent did -- I decided to "encourage" my daughter to take an interest in sport. In hindsight, I see it was merely a thinly disguised attempt to correct what had not gone right in my childhood.
It was a sunny afternoon and we were in the backyard with a soccer ball. Halena's interest was waning and I insisted that we play for a while longer.
I'm a parent who over-researches everything and was ticking off my mental checklist of 'how to nail motherhood' -- we were were soaking up much-needed vitamin D, had just devoured a vegetable-filled snack and were getting the Heart Foundation's recommended amount of daily exercise. #winning
Much to the amazement of anyone who has ever witnessed me play sport, I kicked the ball and it went right to her. I underestimated my strength (perhaps the power came from my dogged parenting determination) and it knocked her over, flicking her wrist back forcefully.
My soccer strike symbolised much more than surprising accuracy.
Parents have so much information at their disposal, and are trying hard to do the best thing. We are well-versed on the consequences of poor parenting.
You know how it goes -- if we don’t give parenting everything we’ve got, our kids will wind up unemployed, criminals living in our basements -- and there will be no one to blame but ourselves.
Here's the tricky part, there's a constantly shifting line in the sand.
It’s when you go from parenting to over-parenting -- which is where you don’t allow space in your child’s life to let them be who they are (in Halena's case a little girl who likes to sing and draw and dislikes sport) -- that it becomes a problem.
Or in our situation, a medical emergency.
While I'm laying bare my biggest parenting fail, I'll also concede that I'm guilty of being the type of parent that's a little preoccupied with my children as an extension of my own success.
Outspoken US psychologist Dr Madeline Levine has claimed that children of over-involved parents are three times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
Other therapists have suggested that an over-focus on kids creates demanding offspring and anxious, exhausted parents.
So apparently the answer is not to cram our kid's free hours with Mathletics, Mandarin lessons, piano classes and backyard sports sessions.
Our over-focus on our children could be doing them more harm than good. I for one could do with a small dose of chilling the f**k out.
It would have no doubt saved my daughter a hell of a lot of pain.
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