As parents we often find ourselves focused on the “raising” of our children rather than the relishing of every moment. We take the responsibility seriously, reading whatever we can find, asking friends and family with more experience than us or just learning what works through trial and error.
It occurs to me that I might have benefited from a do-over, but I’m not afforded that possibility. That is unfortunate because age can provide a greater perspective on what is really important. I’ll have to settle for the belief that my children survived their time with me and are well-adjusted adults knowing how to contribute to their community.
They often tell me that they are thankful for me and their father but we made plenty of mistakes.
Even though there are no parenting do-overs, I have the incredible privilege of being a Grammy. It’s a much better family position in my opinion. You don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. You don’t feel the need to be in constant control of every situation. You don’t even need to raise your voice.
Having also been a teacher and school and district administrator I’ve learned what doesn’t work by way of punishment, discipline and so called motivation. I’ve written extensively about these in my book and other blog entries here on my website. Threats, praise/rewards for compliance and withholding based on behavior are unproductive and harmful tactics often used in schools and at home.
Obviously being a parent comes with a few caveats.
- There is no manual.
- There is no one size fits all.
- There is a short window of time.
What’s important is to relinquish the urge to mold your children into your perfect image. None of us is perfect.
How do we undo any negative residual effects based on how our parents may have “raised” us? How do we focus on the positives while supporting the growth and well-being of our little charges? It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. It’s hard work and exhausting until we realize that it’s not really that hard after all.
The terms “child-rearing, raising our kids, training them, or teaching them” may be misnomers. I’ve discovered that parenting is more about us than our children. Are we willing to learn what we need to learn in spite of what we think we know?
Humility and forgiveness along with a heavy dose of love are essential ingredients for a successful experience with our children.
I’m able to contribute to the growth of my three year old grandson, since we spend at least three days a week together. I love his mind, heart and energy. I’m the benefactor of the gifts he brings and freely shares with me. In a sense, being with this little guy is kind of a do-over.
I’ve compiled a short list of reminders for those of you who are parenting for the first time.
- PLAY with your toddler, child, or young person.
- Put your hand held devices away and BE IN THE MOMENT.
- Resist the urge to punish. LOOK for underlying causes instead and address those.
- LISTEN to them and follow their lead.
- The FIRST FIVE YEARS are critical but so are the remaining ones.
I often suggest homeschooling for those who can do it. But homeschooling that just replicates school is not what I suggest. There are plenty of good resources for parents willing to give it a shot. Connect with those resources in your area and consider the benefits for both you and your child.
In the meantime, embrace your role as parent. It’s how you learn who YOU really are, so you can become even better!