My mom used to tell me that parenting was the hardest, yet most rewarding job in the whole world. As my matriculation through motherhood continues, I have come to realize that most of us figure out that sooner or later…Mom was right. It’s not enough that our kids take us through challenges that test our every nerve. We also have to contend with the comparison game that many of us parents play with one another.
Do you stay at home with your kid, or did you choose to continue to focus on your career? Did you breastfeed, or was formula the right choice for you? Do you send your kids to school or have you dedicated a space in your home to educate your child yourself? And so on and so forth.
They say that these decisions are influenced by our parenting style. Some of us have adopted the same kind of parenting techniques that we were raised with, which many times can also be influenced by culture and family expectations. Other times, we find ourselves evolving from what was normal in our own childhoods. Typically through nurture, we want to break away from what we had as kids and forge our own paths. It’s this parenting style that can cause possible contention with our families, our friends, our kids’ teachers, and even other parents.
80s Baby, 90s Kid
I was raised as an only child. My parents were older when they had me, and since I was an 80s baby and 90s kid, my parents’ attitudes reflected that of many other parents of the time. I was to fit into their lives, not the other way around.
I was left on my own in terms of figuring out how to spend my time and was encouraged to participate in sports and to get outside. My imagination was my closest friend.
For the most part, this was a good thing. I savor the memories of my friends and I spending hours on our bikes exploring the neighborhood, finding old treehouses in the woods. It was paradise, and none of it would’ve happened if our parents constantly gave us activities to do.
However, the other side of being left on my own was exactly that. I was left to my own devices quite a bit. There were two summers straight where I stayed home alone in the house with no activities planned for me. I often spent weekends following my mom around on her music extracurriculars, and if it weren’t for sports, I would’ve continued doing that into high school.
Now that I am a mom I am ever so mindful of how my kids spend their time. It’s almost an obsession to ensure that they are engaged in experiences that will warrant positive memories. But the reminder to “let them be bored” nags at me constantly.
Another “snag” if you will in determining how I was going to parent my kids came in the form of learning differences. My children are different than I was due to diagnoses I never received. My son has Autism and ADHD. My daughters have anxiety.
What Has Greatly Influenced My Parenting Style
Knowing these conditions, and engaging in therapy with my kids for over the last decade has greatly influenced my parenting style. Similarly, we are not a stationary family and the issues that stem from moving every three years have me even more obsessed with stability.
As such, discipline becomes a tricky thing when mushing all these factors together. I have to learn to be patient. To be okay with repeating myself and to find different ways to set expectations. Reward charts still are a hit in our house.
What Kind Of Parent Am I?
Am I the kind of parent who lets their kids figure things out on their own? Do I structure my kid’s day to a T? Do I emphasize good grades and high performance in just about everything?
Is my patience such that I let my kids pretty much do whatever they please? Or have I devised so many rules that my house runs more like an official government facility than a home?
The answer is none of the above.
I don’t believe that parents can truly have one parenting style, especially with multiple children. Children are just little people who have their own unique personalities. Trust me, I’ve learned that they are going to respond to things differently. What makes parenting so challenging is that it forces you to be adaptable. You must be able to evolve.
We can’t expect what worked for us as kids is then going to work for our kids in turn. There’s no way I could totally leave my kids to their own devices 100% as my parents did with me. Due to their conditions, and the fact that our life is already incredibly unstable, it’s important that we have some kind of routine as it helps with behavior.
I also cannot expect that saying something once is going to always work. My parents never ever wanted to have to repeat themselves. And as much as I loathe doing so, I find myself doing it constantly. I have to understand that my children are different than I am. They learn differently and since having them, so do I.
Our Parenting Should Reflect The Kind Of Children We Have and What Their Unique Needs Are
Today’s world is a complex one in which to bring kids up in. Because of this, there is no one parenting style that works in and of itself. Our parenting should reflect the kind of children we have and what their unique needs are.
It should reflect our environment and the people we choose to keep involved in our family’s lives. It needs to take into account all of the challenges we face in the 21st century. While we can definitely use the kind of parenting we grew up with as an influence, it’s important that we forge our own paths.
It’s not easy for sure and means possibly setting healthy boundaries, getting therapy ourselves, or even reading a book or two. Sure, you won’t be the perfect parent and you will make some of the same mistakes your parents did (trust me). But ultimately, your parenting style will be mostly comprised of you doing the best you can for your kids. That’s all anyone can ever ask of you. After all, you are only human, and this is the toughest job in the whole wide world.
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