Todays family post is something a bit different and it comes from my good friend Becky who is a regular contributor to the blog. Normally Becky talks to us about health, fitness and yummy food but today she is putting on her parenting hat and talking to us about what it takes to be a good parent.
I have known Becky now since I was 8 years old, she has two gorgeous children and is the best mother I know. She has raised her children to be hard-working, conscientious, polite and loving, she really has done a fantastic job with them, which is the reason I asked her to be Dexters Godfather, I couldn’t think of anyone better! It is for this reason that I have asked her to write this post today, she is my parenting guru and I just know you are going to love what she has to say!
What does being a ‘parent’ mean?
I’ve been a parent now for 12 years. I haven’t gone through the so called ‘difficult’ years, just the vitally important years that set the groundwork for those ‘difficult’ years ahead. And honestly, I am very proud of my children. They are generally happy, kind, friendly, respectable, and a pleasure to have in the house. There have been moments of dishonesty, but very rare. There have been even more moments of laziness, slightly harder to deal with and an ongoing challenge! But as I said, I’m proud to introduce them to people and call them my children. Isn’t that what we all want as parents?
But what does being a parent entail? It was a comment that my mum once made that set the way I approached parenting. My daughter was young – she’s the eldest – and as I cuddled her and clung to her gorgeousness I flippantly remarked that I would never let her go. That flippant remark prompted the following comment from my ever so practical, ever so loving, but non nonsense mum:
“Children aren’t yours to keep. It is your job to teach them how to live an honest, happy and independent life WITHOUT you.”
That was it. The whole reason for my being. To teach them how to live without me. Like any other creature on this planet – we are here to teach them how to fly the nest.
So with this in my mind I’ve ploughed forward, focusing on preparing my children to be happy, honest and independent adults. The first thing was to teach them to dress themselves, and then make their own beds in the mornings. The next task was putting their cleanly washed and ironed clothes away in their drawers. They are now 11 and 12 respectively, they go to school, do their homework, and when asked do simple household chores. They’re not jumping to do the ironing whenever I get the board out, and their arms ache after 3 tops, but they can do it!! They are progressing in the right direction!
But the reality is that helping young people to grow into independent adults is so much more than chores and academic education.
I have worked in primary schools for a few years now, and at first I used to worry about the children who struggled to learn their maths and reading. What was to become of them in secondary school and beyond? Mostly these children were loved, enjoy playing outside with other children and had happy lives. But applying themselves to written work or reading seemed to be hard for them. Are these children likely to grow up to be honest, happy and independent adults? Very likely.
Then I was privileged to work with a few children who were emotionally and mentally affected from facing trauma of various sorts in their lives. It was when I worked with these children that I realised that the ones I mentioned above would be fine. The children above may have difficulty learning their maths and literacy, but they are generally loved, happy and will be okay. They have family support and friendships – two vitally important components for a happy life.
It is the young people who have faced emotional and mental trauma that I now worry about. Many of these young people – for various reasons – have become disconnected from themselves, from society, and even from those close to them. Some of them find maths and reading incredibly easy, but their focus and attitude can change daily. They have the ability to easily pass through school, completing the various tasks set and coming out with the desired qualifications that will apparently set them up for a good future. However, all that this has highlighted to me is that education just isn’t enough.
So this brings me back to what does being a parent mean? My mum was right in saying that “your job is to teach them how to live an honest, happy, and independent life without you. “
But I misinterpreted what that meant. This does not simply mean educating young people in household chores and maths and literacy.
Above all else I think it means showering children with LOVE. Building self-esteem. Offering young people respect and teaching them about mutual- respect in return. Helping them to learn from mistakes. Helping them to deal with setbacks. Helping them to grow from sadness. Encouraging them to love and care for themselves. Supporting them to develop friendships. Teaching about consequences . Encouraging them to be brave, challenge themselves and develop self-confidence. And finally, but certainly not least having FUN together.
Offering all this wisdom takes time, commitment, and sometimes doing things or letting things happen that we might struggle with.
We are all different, and our approaches will all be different, and that’s okay, but I truly believe my mum was right, we need to focus on bringing our children up to be happy, honest and independent adults, who can live their lives without us – we won’t be around forever. But my experience with the children in my school has had the biggest impact on how I parent. I might not be around forever, so I need to offer as much love as I can, whilst I still have the option to show them that they mean the world to me. This love helps give them the self-esteem to walk forward into an independent adult life with confidence.
Parenting will only get harder as they demand to grow and have more freedoms, but I really believe that with enough love, they will stumble into a happy adult life.
Have a great Day!
Love Becky xx