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Parental referee: When to call it quits

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The various “hats” parents wear, on any given day (or moment!), fluctuates between taxi driver, chef, maid, and referee. While some positions seem to have an obvious expiration date, when does being a referee become part of ones’ “past work experience”?

First Half
As a natural beginning, parents referee from early on in infancy. Largely this consists of regulating safety and fostering exploration, under a loving, watchful eye. As curiosity drives their exploration, again the referee navigates potential safety concerns, while also giving the child the “play book” of life. As they enter into toddler and preschool years, they are continually building their repertoire of known “plays” as well as building complexities onto the previously integrated strategic approaches. As the school years appear, peers become the referees’ “back ups” as undercover informants on reporting suspected foul play. Again, all of these stages of development unfold under the “official” watch of the referee (e.g. parent).

Half Time
So, when does the referee get a break? Perhaps not taken literally, this is pointing towards a natural shift in development; the internal sense of responsibility to our own behaviors and the potential impacts they hold. This can be a challenging time for the referee- as the job descriptions shits. Refereeing becomes about shifting awareness to ownership. Meaning, ownership of their actions is shifted, which is not synonymous with novel learning, rather as an expansion of the moment itself and their role in that moment. Time management, organization, responsibility for communal living, are all examples of shifting the role of the referee from the parent to the child.

Locker Time Review
In the waters of parenting, the difficulty may be in finding a sense of peace while adrift. As the referee, ultimately the role is filled by the individuals themselves, using your “playbook” as a navigation guide when the unfamiliar arises. Perhaps the concluding challenge is letting go of the title.



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