DISCLAIMER: I haven’t written a piece before where I share my strong opinions on a topic quite as strongly as I do in this one. I want everyone to know, PRIOR to reading this, that while I do have my strong opinions, I am VERY open (and encourage) others opinions and respect the fact that my opinions are NOT right, they are simply opinions! I am writing this post in hopes to start an open and respectful dialogue amongst parents.
Will you join me?
Anyone who knows me is aware that I LOVE to discuss parenting. I love to hear others opinions about parenting, I love to have debates and I love to hear new tactics and techniques. I also LOVE to share tips and tricks with people who are struggling. SO, with this knowledge, please feel free to ask any parenting questions that you may have and I will start a discussion on social media where a group of us can discuss and gain new ideas from one another.
In my opinion, there is no right and wrong in parenting. Why? The simple answer is because all children are different and all parents are different and a parenting style needs to be found where the parents are comfortable AND where the style works for their children. We all adapt our parenting styles without even realizing it as our children grow and develop, as well as each child.
We all have different parenting styles and that is ok!
My friend, Tiffany over at Naturally Cracked recently shared a parenting article called WHY MY KIDS ARE NOT THE CENTER OF MY WORLD with me. It is written by a mother who has some very specific views and opinions, of which she is definitely entitled to have! This article got me thinking about where my views stand on some of the topics that she raised.
I encourage you to go read that article and then come back to read my thoughts (and share yours!) on some of the topics that were raised!
Likely, this is a topic for a separate post but…
My quick two cents is that bullying has always existed, but back when I was a kid, it just didn’t have a label. Kids teased others. Kids physically hurt others and kids threatened others. It happened. What has changed? I feel that we have put a label to the behaviour and it has become generalized, so instead of worrying so much about what the behaviour was, we are worrying perhaps too much that it was bullying behaviour. Kids were punished back in my day for all of those behaviours the same as kids are punished now. I think the difference might be in the threat part. Threats are taken more seriously now. Is this right? I don’t know. Sometimes yes, I think it is and in other cases, perhaps we have gone to an extreme.
Because kids are kids and their maturity is still in the developing phase, they don’t necessarily know how and when to appropriately use the word bullying. As a society, I believe that we need to focus on raising our children to know what is right from wrong. It is wrong to hit. It is wrong to tease. It is wrong to threat. It is wrong (or not nice) to name call.
It is right to treat everyone with respect.
On Kids and Toy Guns…
Like bullying, this topic is one that I have very strong feelings on and perhaps one day, I will write a post dedicated to this topic alone. For now, I will say that I was raised in a family of teachers and teachers are notorious for being rule followers. I am also a sensitive individual, I always have been and I remember what it felt like to be brought into toy gun fights against my will (e.g. I was a bystander being shot at) and I really didn’t feel comfortable with that feeling of loss of control. Because of this, I never felt comfortable with gun play and when I became a teacher, no toy guns was a rule that we followed at school and logically became a rule in our house. I never have understood and likely never will understand why a toy gun is something fun to play with when real guns are objects that can hurt and kill people. While many girls enjoy to play with toy guns, it was never an issue with my daughter, but when I had a son, I knew that I was going to have to figure things out. To be honest, I haven’t ever said “no toy guns in our house” to my son, but I have always expressed my opinion about gun play and how important it is that people consent prior to playing this type of game.
I likely have also pointed out, on many occasions, how I dislike weapons of any kind and my son was always listening. It started with my husband’s Star Wars lego figures and my very young son (2 to 3 years old) wanting to play with them. I didn’t feel right letting him play with the weapons. Because being around children playing with toy weapons is inevitable, I have now tried to teach my son about consentual and respectful play in hopes that he can enjoy playing with others in a respectful environment. I would never want either one of my children to engage in play with a friend or friends where not all parties involved were comfortable. This is deeply rooted in my childhood and I am well aware of that, but I also feel that it is important for them to learn.
On Teaching About Different Opinions…
I have always taught my children that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and that everyone is in charge of making their own choices. Children will sometimes bring up the “but my friend “so-and-so” is allowed to do that” card and I explain with this: “Yes, you are right they do and their Mommy and Daddy make their own choices for their family and we make decisions and choices that are best for ours. Sometimes those choices will be the same and sometimes they will be different and we need to respect that as long as no one is getting hurt in the process.” I often will go on to say that if someone is getting hurt by choices or decisions that someone else is making and you know that it isn’t right, that is when it is a good idea to get help from an adult that you trust.
On Children and Rejection…
IN GENERAL (read: this means not all, but many), children are being raised in a “must have” and “I want” society. As adults, many of us are fortunate enough to live in comfort and have the priviledge to have (or have access to) almost everything that we want in life. Many adults will use lines of credit or their credit cards to purchase items that are on their “want” or “must have” list instead of waiting until they have the money to pay up front for it. Because that is how many adults are living, children are quickly also learning that they too can “get what they want” easily and parents are listening and giving it to them instead of necessarily making them wait OR plainly saying “no”. I remember as a child desperately wanting certain toys or items of clothing and my parents simply saying “no” and that it didn’t matter that many other children had them. The bottom line was that I wasn’t going to get them, regardless.
For some reason, this happens less with our generation and I’m not sure why. This spills into the topic of children and rejection. Learning how to handle and deal with rejection is a crucial life skill that we need to teach our children. How do we teach it? By allowing the opportunities to occur where rejection is inevitable and let our children deal with it. We can be there for them to comfort and guide them, but we NEED to allow it to happen. If we don’t, I believe that we will be raising a generation of children who are entitled and expect the world and won’t know how to handle it when life doesn’t turn out this way.
This aspect of parenting is one that I definitely was not prepared for! When I dreamt of becoming a parent one day, I always thought of the loving and nurturing side of things. I never imagined that there would be times where I had to intentionally watch my child struggle in order to help them succeed. It is in our instinct to help our children survive, but in order for this to happen in the global sense, there are many challenges along the way.
On How You Know You’re Doing a Good Job Parenting Your Children
When you are “in the moment”, it is very hard to know whether or not you are doing a “good job” at parenting. What is a good job anyhow? I recently had a wonderful discussion with another good friend of mine from Did You Know Canada. She has twin 6 year old boys and we were talking about the fact that in our opinions, a specific type of parenting does not always determine the same outcome with children in the same family. Every child is different and therefore, not only do different children require slightly different parenting in order to thrive to their best, but they also will turn out differently and make different choices, etc. due to the nature of their own independence.
When I was teaching, I observed MANY families with multiple children who had extremes with academics, behaviour, personality etc. within all of their children.
It is very difficult to take a large step back from your family and look inside to see whether or not you are doing a good job. I feel that you will know you are doing a good job if:
- You are a caring and loving parent.
- You provide your child with a safe and caring home environment.
- You meet your child’s basic needs.
- You are constantly observing your child.
- You try your absolute best!
- Provide your child with the tools and assitance that they require in order to succeed.
- When you look back, you feel you did your best.
- You sometimes let them fail.
I also think it is equally important for parents to not beat themselves up over choices that their children make AFTER a parent has met all of the above criteria. At the end of the day, when your children go out on their own (to school, daycare or later in life), they will act and behave the way that they do and all you can do is remember (and feel good about that fact that) you have done your very best.
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on some of (or ALL) these topics! The more we discuss them, the more we can form our own opinions (as opinions can change over time) and become the absolute BEST parents that we can be!
Let’s HELP one another succeed at the most difficult job in the world: being a parent!