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7.25.2013

My Parenting Style: Ignorance and Optimism

Guest Post by Elizabeth Jayne Liu



Hey, folks! I'm on vacation, taking a much-needed blog break. Some batteries need recharging. But don't worry -- I've enlisted the generous help of some great guest bloggers to keep things fresh around here while I'm gone. Here's Elizabeth Jayne Liu of Flourish in Progress on parenting failures and shining moments.

I had two things working against me when I became a mother: ignorance and optimism.

I was 18 years old and operating on a very limited budget when I got pregnant, so I didn't buy any parenting books. It seemed simple enough. Did I need to spend $19.95 for an "expert" to explain in hundreds of pages what I could distill down into a few easy steps?


1. Love her
2. Take her on exciting vacations
3. Don't pack anything smelly in her lunchbox

Coupled with my ignorance was a confident optimism that the rest would just work itself out because my daughter, Cal, would grow up in a relaxed, accepting environment unlike my strict, education-focused Korean upbringing. I would praise my child on her effort, not her grades.

I believed I was parenting just as I had intended until I uttered the words "Sweet Jesus, is this an A- I see on your report card? IN SCIENCE?" to my 13-year-old recently.

Knowing when to stop talking has never been one of my strong suits, and I continued with "Don't you want to go to college?"

Cal didn't respond, but it was clear from the look on her face as she walked away that her internal monologue was something along the lines of "Well, she's finally lost her mind."

I took a minute to push myself in the face and make a mental note to call my mother and apologize for just….everything before heading into Cal's room.

"Uh, my bad. I'm really proud of you. An A- is awesome and you earned it. The only time I ever got a grade like that in science was when I doctored my report card."

"Mommy, I don't think you're supposed to tell me stuff like that."

I really need to work on that "stop talking" skill.

It took several minutes for the hysterical laughter to fade when I called my mother to share the jerk moment with her. She claimed that she and I weren't so different after all. We both wanted the best for our daughters, and since we lacked finesse with words, our best intentions often came out sharp and critical. I thanked her for putting up with my snide comments about her parenting, but not before mentioning that we were totally different mothers because I wouldn't dare take Cal to Chuck E. Cheese and pretend that it was Disneyland. (Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, that was a pretty brilliant scheme. Until I learned how to read, I thought we were living a baller status life and going to Disneyland, like, twice a month.)

I hope Cal learns from my shining moments and forgives my failures, just as I'm learning to do with my own mother.

Elizabeth Jayne Liu writes candidly about her former addictions, love of four-letter words, and her affinity for all things rap on her blog, Flourish in Progress. Find her on the Instagram grind (username: flourishinprogress) and on Facebook. You will probably not be sorry.