Sunday, May 3, 2009

Parenting is easy...when you are not a parent

I had one of 'those' conversations this week with a dear friend of mine. She's newly married and looking forward to starting a family. As we are both teachers we see a lot of kids who are the results of both good and bad parenting. We happened to be discussing nutrition in children. And, I'm afraid to admit it, but we see a lot of poor nutrition choices. Kids who exist on a variety of chips and chocolate and rarely see food in its natural state. And as the conversation turned to 'when I have kids...', I began to smile. You know the smile. It's the smile of 'I remember those days when I could speak so firmly on what MY children would or would not do'.
MY children would be good eaters.
MY children would never have a meltdown in a grocery store.
MY children will use their manners.
MY children will not push other children.
MY children will clean up their toys when first asked.
You get the picture.
AHH those days of what MY children will and will not do are a nice little memory now. The factor that I didn't take into consideration is that MY children are their own beings.
I didn't know that MY child would not eat fresh fruit.
I didn't know that MY child would get tired and bored in a grocery store.
I didn't know that MY child would grow into a little copycat of me that thinks they are always right.
I didn't know that MY child would have to learn impulse control just like the rest of us.
I didn't know that MY child would be indignant at being asked to stop playing to go to bed.
Now I do feel at this point I need to clarify. I also do not agree with feeding a child a diet of chips and chocolate (and yes that's a true story), but my kids are not the little health nuts I would like them to be. It's also true my youngest won't eat fresh fruit, but he does eat fruit itself, just in another format (cooked, dried, in muffins...).
Parenting is a challenging journey. I believe most parents do the best they can with what they know. I also know that kids are just little people who are depending on us to shape them. It is our job to instill morals and manners into them. We are responsible to teach them about healthy choices. We are responsible to guide and nurture them. When we decided to have that little one around, we decided that we should be a parent, not just in name, but in action. We live in an increasingly permissive society and I don't think that it is having a good effect on our kids. Just think of this, how often do you see a talk show with topics like this:
Teens out of control!
Help, my kid is a brat!
Fix my deadbeat son!
A lot right? More than we should. I think what has happened is that we have lost a sense of a support network. We used to live in a society where parents having relatives around them were the norm. Women would come together at socials and things like sewing circles and be parents together. Today we are so busy, busy. We often live away from relatives. Kids live between 2 homes. And we are tired and stressed and I think we just give up and give in because it is easier. The demands kids make of us are just one demand too many. I know I'm generalising here, but I do think there is some truth to it. How do we connect with others? I have a friend I haven't seen in a long while that was so taken aback that I would call her to make plans for the upcoming weekend a day or two before. She said that she does everything via email now and that her schedule was so booked that maybe she might have an opening in 2 weeks. Really? This is how we meet? We make appointments just like we are meeting with our lawyers and doctors? I know more about some friends of mine now that I did because of Facebook posts. I'd like to take a look into this idea of connecting with other parents and see where it goes. We need to support each other. That's one of the reasons that Jill and I started this site. It's nice to know that you aren't alone that someone has walked this path before you and survived. Kids are kids and they deserve the best that we can give them. Let's take a stand for parenting, for having standards and living up to them.
"Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories." ~John Wilmot

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