Last week I shared that I was struggling with coming up with topics to write on the blog and asked for some topics that you would be interested in. The one topic that was requested was parenting. So here I am sharing about parenting, I know that we all ask ourselves whether we are doing a good job at parenting and whether we are failing as parents, well I know I do. I have 3 wonderful children and I would like to believe that raising them has given me some sort of experience in terms of what parenting involves. I have made my mistakes and I continue to make mistakes but I realize that parenting is to be seen as a learning process. Our kids are unique and what works for one might not necessarily work for the rest, all you can do is go with your gut and do what you feel is best for your child.
My childhood growing up was so different to the childhood my kids have. A no from my parents usually meant a no, with these modern kids a no sometimes turns into a debate. Just yesterday my 11 year old daughter was asking me for a cell phone. We have held out for so long but now she sees her friends getting cell phones and she wants to also get one. Our reasons for not letting her have one are many, with all the cyber bullying going around, not to mention the screen addiction issues we keep hearing about I would rather not let her have one. The need for communication comes in but for her it doesn’t really apply, for one she is home schooled, and secondly she goes to Taekwando and Gymnastics and we usually know where she is most of the time. I might have been convinced if she was in regular school where communication would be an issue. Besides her older brother got his first phone at age 12 and it was a flip phone at that, he used to walk to and from School so we felt that him having a phone was at least justified. I have a feeling this phone story will continue. Parenting requires flexibility in how you approach different situations , you might have to be strict one minute and understanding the next. We lay pretty solid ground rules and we expect the kids to adhere to the rules. My kids ages are rather spread out, my oldest is 19 and he just moved out his sister is 11 and the last born is 9. I would like to believe that our parenting skills have gotten better over the years but we also had to learn quickly that each child was different and required a different approach with discipline. My daughter only has to hear something once and we can be assured she will not repeat the mistake. My younger son on the other hand will try and push the envelope to see how far he can go. I have been called to the principles many a times about him. My oldest son on the other hand has also given us our fair share of grey hairs but I think it is part of the growing process.
The challenges I have faced with my oldest have somehow prepared me for my younger two. I have learned through my own parenting mistakes that you have to allow your kids to fail because these failures provide the best learning opportunities than you can ever hope to provide as a parent. We coddle our kids so much that we do not realize we are actually hurting them. Our kids need to learn certain life skills because we wont always be there to bail them out. Simple things like doing laundry, doing the dishes , and taking out the trash should be taught to our kids at a young age. I had a wake-up call when I asked my son to got to the post office to send a letter for me and he had no clue how to do that. At first I was disappointed in him because I felt like that was something he should know how to do, but then I realized that it was my own fault. How did I expect him to know what to do at the post office if I had never showed him what to do. This goes back to so many other things as well, should we be getting mad at our kids when they do things that we have never had a discussion about. Is it right to assume that they should know unspoken rules and laws when they have never actually had any conversations about those rules you expect them to know. I have realized that communication and laying out expectations from the onset can go a great way to avoiding most of the parental conflicts we tend to have with our kids. If you dont want your kids to be on their electronics the whole time, come up with the ground rules about when you will be OK with them to be on the electronics, only on weekends, for an hour during school days after homework is done, the key is you are the parent you can set the ground rules.
Understandably ours is a different ball game to the parenting our parents had to do. I grew up during the time of no cell phones, no electronic gadgets, and also what appeared a safe time to live. It might be we never heard of all the scary things that people do or it might actually be that there were no bad people around. I remember the time we would play till the street lights came on, we would walk for miles to go to friends houses and bed time meant bedtime. We never answered back to our parents and they just seemed to have it so easy. I find I have a lot of conversations with my kids explaining why things have to be the way I say they should be. To counter this I have started making them read a lot of personal development books to help themselves. I am pushing the whole self responsibility agenda where discipline is concerned. I am convinced that they will become better kids and citizens by realizing that their future is in their own hands , they have to take responsibility for their behaviors but it is my job to encourage and mold them to the best of my abilities. I am currently reading a book titled “Rich Kids: How to raise our children to be happy and successful in Life” and it is a gem of a book and I would recommend this for all parents. I wish I had this when my oldest was still at home , but I am glad I have it as a reference as I continue to grow my other 2 kids.
If anything remember that you are doing a great job as parents, keep it up.
With Love and gratitude
Dr Fatsani Dogani