Friday, March 20, 2009

What makes a parent?

The Billion Dollar question! As my last post for the week (I made it!) I nearly had writers block again but on reading my post of yesterday as well as reading and commenting on all the comments, I realised that I wanted to say a little more about my parenting ethic.
My mom and dad are and always were very dedicated parents, never slipping up in their raising of their 4 children. I am the eldest with 2 younger sisters and a brother but we were all born within 5 years. My mom was a busy person. She stayed at home, kept house, ferried us around and did everything she could to give us a stable well-grounded Christian upbringing. My dad was self-employed for as long as I have known him and worked a long week to provide for his offspring. He was always at home at night though, reading his paper and helping out with our homework. Evenings were also the time when any disciplining needed to be done. I can remember several occasions being summoned to approach my father to answer for something I had done wrong. "Hold out your hand". Hand extended gingerly and smack! Down would come his hand on the hand of the offender and we would be sent crying to our rooms. My father believed in hidings but between him and my mom they devised what they believed was a fair system and so we grew up.
When we became teenagers however, the cracks started to appear. Not so much with me because I didn't fight the system. But my sisters were rebels and I remember my mom on several occasions when my next sister down from me was out visiting friends, rooting through my sisters room in search of cigarettes, letters, etc., proof of misdemeanour. This was repeated for my younger sister as she became a teen. And I was thankful that I didn't have to undergo this remorseless 'intervention' from my mom.
With this in mind, I approached teenagehood in my daughter with a little trepidation, not being too sure how much to give or how hard to be. When my daughter was 13 she tried smoking. I sniffed her out. She had been smoking in the toilet while I was out. The only other smoker in the house wasn't around. She denied it. I allowed her to go out with her friends, giving her a curfew of 10pm. She arrived at 12pm driven by her friends teenage brother in a carload of teens. I started to become stressed. "You've only just become a teen. Don't try all the teenage drama at the same time. Just break me in slowly". Somehow, somewhere, we developed a system. I let her sleep out but I spoke to the mothers. I let her go to clubs but I told her to always let me know where she was. I let her come home in friends cars but I told her to always always wear a seat belt. I gave her slack and reeled her in where necessary. Don't tell me how I knew what to do because I hadn't done it. I grew up a bookworm, staying at home, marrying the first boy I dated. The one thing I did with my kids that I don't believe my mom and dad did was to respect my children as the individuals that they were and very much still are today. They are not just extensions of myself. I always told them and am still telling them today. From the time you turn 13 you are in training to be an adult and the decisions you make today are going to affect you for the rest of your life. Decide to smoke and it will affect your health and your income. Decide to miss school or not to learn and it will affect your career choices and your lifestyle. Empower your kids with information and let them decide what to do. Who ever changed their child's direction in life by nagging them? Lead by example. Don't expect your kids to do what you don't do. Don't be a hypocrite around your kids. They will catch you out. Be the person you want your child to be.
PS I love my parents dearly and I cannot bear the thought of them not being around one day. They still help me out and I help them where I can. They did the best parenting they could based on how they were brought up and what they wanted and still want for their kids. But what I have also told my kids is: Be a better parent than I am. If you are blessed with kids, take whatever you consider to be the good stuff you got from me and add something new and better. Don't repeat the mistakes that your parents made with you when you get to parent your own kids.
Have a wonderful weekend with your loved ones! See you next week. Momcat

16 comments:

  1. This was very well written post and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. You have summed up parenthood perfectly.

    CJ xx

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  2. Thank you Crystal and welcome!

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  3. I love this post. You are a very wise parent.

    I think my parents were far to lax with me. I never had a curfew, they did not question where I was, or what I was doing. Lucky for them I was a SUPER good kid and had great friends. But I think I will be a bit for vigilant with my kids.

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  4. Such a fine balance with kids.

    My Mom didn't pay much attention when I was growing up, therefore I took advantage. When I got caught, the punishment was brutal. I never got that. If she would have paid attention in the first place, I probably wouldn't have done half the things I did.

    We do the best parenting with the skills that we have. I have always kept an open relationship with my kids, allowing them to share things and me not judge them.

    parenting is the hardest damn job. I think you are doing a great job!

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  5. What beautiful parent you have become. I love how you came up with your philosophy and protocols. Thank you for dropping in and visiting me.

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  6. The best thing about being a parent is choosing the path for our children ..... and letting them make their own decisions when they can.

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  7. Kat - There's nothing wrong with how you've turned out but I believe that generally children need boundaries for their own sense of security even if they fight it. It is indeed very lucky that you weren't one to be headstrong and go astray.

    Travel Girl - I return the same compliment to you on your kids and its difficult when your own parents have been a bit erratic in their parenting skills. So well done to you. It looks like your mom cracked down hard on you when she was forced to deal with any issues because maybe she didnt really want to have to deal with any issues. She was probably more than happy when you were bringing yourself up.

    Lakeviewer - Thanks for your kind words. My kids might not agree! My 18 yo old when asked how his mom is always imitates my screaming voice! So thats probably how they perceive me. Having said that, when I am going through a difficult patch, my boys are very supportive. I also enjoy visiting you too.

    David - Welcome! I wish I could give my children more assistance when it comes to choosing a path but they are really more like me than I care to admit and I have always been a contrary person. My kids all march to the beat of their own drummers

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  8. I became the person I am in spite of my upbringing...I was one of those kids who were desperate for some love, sure that if I were good enough they would love me. No rebel, I.

    The sadness is when children who have been loved and nourished, turn away.

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  9. My parents played good cop/bad cop but never changed there roles up. That would have helped.

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  10. Moannie - Welcome to you. Sorry you had to battle with an unloving childhood. Your comment about children turning away is valid and I know it does happen. Hopefully just for a season though. We cannot control the outcome but rather just trust in how we have brought the child up and wait for the child to return to us. No matter how lovingly brought up when the time comes for wings to spread nothing will hold the child back. But they will eventually come back to us.

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  11. Thank you for your authenticity...you are refreshing, and I enjoyed reading your post very much! Congrats on POTD!

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  12. Cap'n - Its always a bit sad when parents cannot or will not adapt their roles as their children change or adapt to their teen by becoming even more unbending in their attitudes.

    Sniffles - Big Welcome and thanks. POTD was a big surprise to me and such a big compliment!

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  13. Momcat, Great job with the balancing. 'Tis not easy, I know. 3 of my kids have survived the teenage years so far - or I should say we have survived parenting 3 teenagers so far.
    Congrats on the POTD. What a wonderful feeling!

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  14. Dear Momcat, I so enjoyed reading this about parenting and I couldn't agree more with you. I like how you said our parents did the best they could with what they knew, I think we're all like that, children too. I think that shows great compassion.
    Thank you for visiting me and leaving such kind words!
    xx lori

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  15. Fascinating post. I found you at Authorblogs and will be back! Congrats on the POTD mention!

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  16. Sink - Thank you. Balancing is not easy and needs constant practice as I'm sure you know. It is a wonderful feeling to be on POTD - a great honour.

    Lori ann - If I'm not perfect it stands to reason I can't hold a grudge against my parents for also not being perfect. I enjoy my visits at your blog.

    TTWC - So glad you visited too - thanks you.

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