Well if there is one thing I know, its parenting. I would say I have been a professional parent since way back in the day when we began foster parenting. I could literally not count all the children we have raised, some for a day, a week, a month , a year, several years, and for our 7 we have completed to the journey to see them arrive in adulthood and they are all doing fine. My style is unique I am sure….as is yours. Here are a few of my thoughts.
Fact is, there is not much to really mess up when it comes to parenting. This generations focus’s on perfecting parenting has turned out disastrous, more education on parenting than any previous generations and yet the values the kids these days are turning out are more confused than ever.
My parents were more of the absent parent kind and yet they appeared unconcerned about the effect of their parenting on their kids choices. We all managed to come out OK. I think parents of old just raised their kids and did the best they could for what they were dealing with and the kids chose to come out the way they wanted. Simple concept…one noone mentions in the manuals!
My thoughts in the 80’s were “I was going to be the best parent ever”, so I read all the books and went to all the seminars and tried to balance love and discipline, fun and work and….very few others put the effort into childrearing I did and yet … you know our kids came out fine. I know many other parents who did not read any books or attend any seminars and yet some of their kids came out fine and some did not.
The one correlation I see over and over in real life is …the next generation usually did better than their previous generation.
I know drug addicts in high school who turned out to be amazing people, and I know an equal amount who didn’t.The pscyhologists have a term called “the good enough parent” which simplifies what I am saying. It is summed to be that if you feed them and clothe them and love them and provide the basics…things generally turn out OK. Things turn out how the child wants to turn out.
Our kids become people…they change from the helpless baby we nurse to become a human with all their own thoughts and feelings, it happens gradually and naturally. They actually become who they want to be, little, by little, by little. It starts around 10 and is never complete. They will work out all they need to work out to make themselves into who they want to be.
Because the bond for a baby is so strong we fall so in love with them that, as each age brings on a new challenge, we have the strength to make it till the next year.This increases expediently so when they throw that party or wretck your car, you feel an obligation and a bond that allows you to make it through that situation.
The general rule for a baby is: love love love them….do your best to keep them safe and help them to complete all the stages of crawling walking talking with positive encouragement.
Say what you mean and mean what you say: Balance love and discipline, make sure they eat right and get plenty of water and rest.
Don’t give them everything they want, keep a schedule so they know what to expect, playtime, cleanup time, bathtime, sleep as much as possible and encourage them to do the same LOL. Let them explore and support what they seem to gravitate toward. They are forming their uniqueness – let them be unique- not all kids respond to same reinforcer or the same discipline- use what works creatively.
Get them in something, sports, choras, spelling bees, find what they like and use it as a reinforcer to get them to do what they don’t like(what we all do in real life). Make them to everything they can by themselves…including home work..its their homework not yours. teach them good coping and care for their bodies- meditation and learned prayers will be the salvation of them in their wandering years. Just do the best you can, they will survive. Must have date night once every two weeks at least an hour or two where no children are discussed.
If someone plopped a strange 16 year old on you- its likely you would not last long- unless of course it was a compliant child, but even then adolescents is a difficult time. A time meant to separate parents from their kids enabling one to become their own unique personality. Some kids need to separate with a bang and others use a gently pull of gravity little by little by little. Adolescences brings this to a stark reality. Let them be who they are and let them see you being who you are. Let them see you try new or scary things, don’t say…do do do. They follow your example (and some do not) not your words. Lots of words are meaningless and you are wasting your breath. Try to be their friend GOOD luck with that- never worked for me but I value its meaning if it works for you.
Now I have had good kids(well one anyway) and I have had bad ones(lots more of them), and I have had very bad ones, and yet they all came out to be the amazing people- unique, talented, smart, great kids they chose to be.
Noone can say here is a 100% foolproof way of parenting. But I can tell you worrying about it will only add to the struggles of parenting. Now mind you all kids have their specific problems, because we as humans all have good and bad attributes to us, we all have selfishness and selflessness(some more than others, all in varied degrees).
Firefighters get alot of smoke inhalation- just saying…. if you are not fighting a fire don’t tell the firefighters how to breath. Don’t judge what they do….. just be glad they showed up to the fire. I love using this example for people who have raised great compliant kids and all has turned out well. I encourage them ‘that’s great it worked for you that way’. But to the rest of us who are taking in the orphans, who are adopting special needs or sibling groups, the handicapped child , the adhd child, the odd child, those who are fostering and loving the ones who are the most damaged , well…. cut us a little slack and realize anyone can successfully raise a average IQ, an intact emotionally and privileged two parent child, our own blood(well not everyone) but often when you have a special needs child you need to cut yourself some slack and forget about what others think or their judgement and just keep on keeping on…doing the best you can.
I can assure you one thing: if you do the best you can, that’s all you can do. Some of the best parents I know have come out with some pretty awful kids, and some of the worst parents I know somehow came out with some really good kids. Its all in the draw, you do your best, you pray alot, you be the best person you can, and being a parent will just happen, you will fail and you will succeed with each step, you will process and you will stumble.But in the end you will be just fine.
My advice is always simple: be the best you you can, whether you are a parent or not, be the best partner you can. Being your best will show your child relationship, forgiveness, successes, and failures. Give grace to your kids, your relationships, nature, the animal world, leave the world a little better each day you are in it…and your kids will be just fine.
I believe each of us has a personal parent manual in us, a personal marriage manual, relationship manual, knowing whats best for ourselves, our children, our partners, our jobs.
Noone has lived your life or walked your journey, noone knows your child like you do, trust yourself, believe that there is a bigger plan for our lives than just what we see and experience at this moment.
As we walk this earth: life and love is all a learning process, a journey to be traveled. Just keep making steps , put your foot forward and walk…one day..one step at a time.