Tag Archives: child development

Parenting is Offensive

A few days ago I commented on a friends post about fatherhood. I am still getting noticed about folks commenting on his post. So yesterday I get a call from someone who’s wondering how to explain to their parents that they will not be continuing the traditions that brought them into the world. My simple answer was; Nothing offends folks more than your parenting style!.

I remember having a few “pet peeves” that made folks uncomfortable when raising my oldest three daughters. I always told them, “I’m not raising someone’s wife!” They participated in dance, but I chose classical ballet. They had uniforms and dresses, but didn’t wear jeans. They ate what I cooked and were never made to “clean their plate”! I heard all kinds of advice about how that was wrong and because of my military background I was too strict. I was amazed that folks thought my parenting techniques were a statement about their parenting choices.

I didn’t really care what others were doing. I was, and am, paying attention to each child and ensuring I do as little as possible to define who they become. I trust that we are inherently good and that they will respond in kind. I recently told someone that I know exactly what I want my oldest boy to be when he grows up from his current age of 9. He’ll be happy, that’s it.

It doesn’t take long after a child is born before friends and family begin to “put in their 2 cents” about what your child should be doing. He or she turns 1 and they should be walking. 2 Years old comes around and solid foods and no bottle. Potty chairs at 30 months, listening and responding perfectly, and A,B,C’s. It’s crazy. It’s like “terrible two’s” are a parental problem, not the child’s. Everyone wants to control your child for you and advise you how to do it. It doesn’t matter that you’ve raised 6 kids and they’ve raised one, there’s is older and special so their gonna enlighten you.

If your having your first child and looking for advice, don’t. Go with your instincts. Follow development charts and look for good examples. Have a prepared response for those folks that want to interfere in the child rearing of your child. I like the statement for overbearing parents: “My parenting choices are not a statement of how you chose to raise your child. You raised me the best you knew how and I love myself, and I’m sure my child will do the same.”

Our children are ours. They won’t grow up to be what anybody thinks except themselves. They ain’t gonna be babysat by a TV with inappropriate television. They’re not going to have relationships in elementary or middle school. They’re not gonna run around worrying more about what they look like than how they act. And they will not run around with phones as an extension of their security blanket. Believe it or not these few rules will offend half your friends and family.

In the end your family is yours to protect and love. Traditions are wonderful if they don’t define the child. Culture is wonderful as long as it doesn’t oppress who your child wants to be. Family is important as long as there isn’t some vicarious nightmare that stifles who your child will become.

Just remember everyone has an opinion and the intensity is off the chart when it comes to parenting. Have an empathetic response prepared so as not to create too much friction. Most importantly though, make a statement. Those are your children, and while the sentiment behind your advice is appreciated, I’m the parent and I will do what I think is best based on what is best for my child, and there are no negotiations.

Home Parenting

“Just get the milk from your sister, it’s 500 degrees out here and you’re letting the air out!” “Give me the lotion. You can’t do it, you’re wasting it!” No, I’ll pour the cereal, you’ll spill it.” Give me the paint, you’re making a mess!”

These, and many more memories echo in the minds of most parents. It’s so much easier to do so many things by yourself, but is that a sound long term tactic? Would we be better of, or more importantly, would our children be better off if we spread the pain and anxiety over 18 years?

With age comes patience, and patience wisdom. We’re so far past the stereotypical “first child parent” it’s almost difficulty talking to folks who are first child or only child parents without sounding callous or irresponsible. We probably sound and look as crazy to them as they appear naive to us.

We work with wood for a living. We do this partly so we can enjoy the wonderfully unbearable time we spend with our kids. We feel time is most important. It would certainly be easier to cart them off to daycare and go to a job for 8-12 hours and hopefully eat dinner together at a time that wouldn’t choke us in our sleep. However, we made the choice to be poor and together, for our situation it works.

I have three grown children from another marriage and we are raising three together. The two boys are 7 and 9, the youngest is 2 1/2. These are demanding and dynamic phases. The oldest compares his chest hair to his younger brothers. The younger brother decides wether or not every situation in the house is fair. The youngest thinks the kitchen and all of its contents are her playground. We can’t wait till there all a little more human.

The kids are around whenever we’re working. The boys have largely gotten bored with the excitement if power tools and constantly try to sneak outta the heat to watch some TV. The youngest though, she’s in her prime for tool time. Knives, saws, chisels and blocks seem amazing. So again, we safely go through the process of stopping what we’re doing every now and then to demonstrate, and supervise, our 2 1/2 year old sawing a block of wood.

On a recent trip to the grocery store in our 100 degree weather “little girl” decided she would put her sandals on because she wanted to walk into the grocery store where she could shop for us. She remembered the last time she got down from bring carried and the pavement was too hot. So we’re good now with grocery day. She remembers to bring her sandals she doesn’t want to wear because she can’t shop and has to ride in the cart when she doesn’t have shoes. This is pretty much the rubric for learning at this age.

Returning home everyone grabs as many bags as possible and takes them to the kitchen, which “little girl” has made an extension of her playroom. Standing at the steps to the door waiting on “Little Girl” to try and carry bread and milk up the three steps was amusing. Not to mention dangerous because we have lost a couple gallons in this process. All this made even more enjoyable by the unbearable heat.

What I know, and subsequently confirmed is; raising children isn’t easy. I could go to the grocery store by myself and hop outta the truck and be home in 25 minutes. I could go to work and only have to worry about the extra 30 minutes on either side it takes to drop the kids off and pick them up. I could cut and screw wood uninterrupted for hours at a time had we chose daycare. I could also send the kids inside to turn the TV on instead of enduring dropped groceries and 100 degree heat, but we experience many authentic moments being “home parents” that had we chose to work outside the house we would have missed.

We don’t “home school. We don’t feel it necessary. We send our kids to school for social reasons. We already knew their success in school was going to depend on us anyway. We drop them off and pick them off. Usually listening to their expectations in the morning and their successes or failures on the way home.

Being a “home parent” is very rewarding. We’re not wealthy and understand that has nothing to do with happiness or intelligence. We understand that it’s our choice and others make theirs for what they feel is good. What motivates us is we know each phase is the last and we’d better enjoy it while it’s here.

So for now we are hopefully allowing our kids to just be kids as long as they can and as fully as they can so when they’re adults that how they’ll feel. We don’t care what they become as much as that they become happy with who they are.

The freedom to explore and express theirselves now is important to us. We respect that not everyone agrees with this process. This is why we keep our 2 1/2 year old home mostly till she’s around 3, it’s safer for everyone involved.

We understand some folks seek academic success. Some chase actors curricular stardom. Some believe it takes a village. Some folks believe that insulating their child is the responsible thing to do. We respect other folks decisions, as we hope others do ours. We enjoy the difficult process of home parenting and including our children in our endeavors. It’s ugly for sure, but we all learn so much it’s impossible to see how limits are good if the actions are supervised, no matter how much harder it is than doing it ourselves.