I consider myself to be a good parent. In fact I would go as far as to say I’m pretty fricken awesome at it…
I’ve been doing this parenting thing for 17 years now….much longer than I’ve been able to boil the perfect egg or wash a full basket of dirty laundry without missing at least one sock….and I think I’ve finally got it sussed.
I have always followed my instincts, led mostly from my children’s needs, starting from their very first cues as babies (because, seriously…how can you know when another human being is hungry unless they tell you. The clock hands do NOT know) to really listening to their pre-teen needs and allowing that understanding to form the basis of discipline and guidance.
I don’t think it’s always been “perfect parenting” and I’m sure there are parents out there who would totally disagree with some things I’ve done, but I do believe it’s worked for us.
I never bought into other people’s ideals of how, when, and why you’d raise a baby “by the book” (who wrote this “book”, anyway?). I’ve always trusted my gut feelings and, as I’ve watched my babies become children, and then young men…I feel increasingly satisfied with the parenting choices I’ve made.
And I can honestly say it is my children themselves, who have helped me become a better parent along the way.
I have immense appreciation for their own unique minds and the wisdom they come out with…as it’s taught me things I could never have learnt from a book, even if I was the book following kind.
I actually think my children should have given birth to me, so profound is their view of the world at times!
The ease at which they calmly bring my misaligned judgements back to reality and show me a different, fresh and actually quite brilliant perspective on life, means the parenting/child dynamic has slowly changed over time…
I now listen more to their perspective on things and often shift my own conditioned responses to things that I normally wouldn’t budge on.
Over the years there has been countless times I could have argued back, put my parental foot down and insisted I “win”….but the truth was there, in their little voices, plain and clear.
And we both won.
Age 6 (leaving for school wearing one bright orange and one green sock pulled up to his skinny knees) “Honey, do you want to change your socks? I think they look great but….ummm…the other kids might laugh….”
(With a shrug) “I don’t care….if they laugh, that’s their problem, not mine”
Age 9 “but WHY do I have to make my bed? I’m going to be back in it soon anyway and I’d much rather continue drawing this picture…”
Age 11 “…does it really matter if I don’t wear fancy clothes to the restaurant? Who cares what I wear anyway?”
Age 15 “Mum, please…..just calm down….if you keep getting in the middle of our fights, we’ll never learn to be brothers”
Aren’t they awesome! I’m tempted to take all the credit myself…but I think actually they were just born brilliant.
I’m sure though, that all the imperfect things I did as a parent may just have been partially responsible for the way they’ve turned out. In fact, I think it was the perfect way to do it. It gave them permission to make their own rules and replace limitations imposed by society on how life should be, with their own firm beliefs on how life could be.
So what if we walked home from parties with our still wide awake toddlers at 2 am, singing songs and talking about the stars….at least they learnt that having fun is sometimes more important than following rules.
So what if dirty jokes and swear words were allowed in our home….(we call it “home humour”)….I love it that, although we still while taught them about social appropriateness, within the four walls of our little home, they were always able to share a laugh with us.
So what if I let my 6 year old make the decision to wear the odd socks, perhaps he may have been bullied for it…I’ll never know….but at such a young age he already knew that deciding for himself what he did or didn’t like was far more important than changing, just to keep someone else happy.
I simply gave him permission to follow his instincts. Even if the rest of the world said “no, that’s not how it should be done”
I’ve always tried to do that for my boys….
So it shouldn’t really surprise me now, that at age 15 and 17, they are so self reliant and strong willed.
They simply won’t do something they don’t feel is truly important to them, and the life they are designing for themselves, and really….why should they?
And they know who they are.
After years of being a high achieving perfectionist, I’m starting to live my life the same way, and it’s quite possibly the best thing they’ve taught me.
….Might even wear odd coloured shoes to work tomorrow and see what happens!
Until next time, keep it real 🙂