Sunday, June 7, 2009

When Parenting Was "Easier"

There was a time when parenting was easier, was it not? You gave your kids a key & trusted they would be safe when they entered the home. You did not fear child predators on a daily basis, you served dinner & they ate what was served, you had easy choices, eg. chocolate or vanilla, schools required pencils & paper (everything else was provided by the school, imagine that!) you had one bathroom & somehow it all worked out.

When I was growing up that is how my home functioned. Bad things happened, but it was always, "literally" to someone else... well, that is what I thought when young. Looking back, I know NOW of many instances that were tragic, should have had police intervention & could have ended up in arrests being made, but did not.

I was raised to appreciate all kinds of art, music, books & learning. We frequented the library often, went to zoos, parks of all kinds & swam all summer long. I remember the good times mostly. I felt I had much freedom to go for walks, be left at the pool all day with my equally young cousin & to chew gum when I felt like it. That equals a good childhood, right?

I knew this as a youngster: That my father hurt my mother intentionally often & my brother unintentionally, that families did not always stay together, but that did not mean you were not close to the estranged one, that kids skipped school, that burgalaries occurred, that crabs would pinch you till you bled & that men exposed themselves to young girls, etc.
I was sheltered from the fact that my family was on food stamps for a time, that I had a father that killed someone, that children were molested (no one I knew of personally at the time or now, for that matter), that police were not always honest and that all was not well in the world.

This brings me to write about Parenting in this day & age. My husband & I are very different, but we make it work, attributed to the fact that we apply Bible principles to the mix. But what I want my children to know, before they go out into this world is what dictates my philosophies as a parent. It is really not related to discipline, for the most part.
Picture caption:
Yes, I also allow play fighting, but no physical contact

is approved of when irritated by the other person or it is out of maliciousness.

My Philosophies, some of them, are as follows:
  • I do not shelter my children from happenings/issues/problems... they are aware of the good & bad in the world, eg. Terrorism, loofahs, sexual predators, mean people, abusive spouses, clowns, gangs, legal matters, music, sexting, marijuana, huffing, paper cuts, pets, driving laws, ibuprofen, barefeet in mud puddles, thunderstorms, mental illnesses, sunflower seeds, viruses (computer & illnesses) & all sorts of positive and negative issues/happenings/tangible things!
  • I teach them, sometimes graphically, about sex. (those who know me know that what I mean is, I teach them what they ask about & do not hold back, just because it is "uncomfortable" for me or for them- but somehow, they are as comftorable as me when addressing the subject!) I NEVER had the "talk" with my mom or anyone else... I was preteen when I had my 1st sexual experience, I did not know why it was not healthy, harmful or unnecessary ( I continued aimlessly until I was 17 & decided the world had used me up & spit me out) I was not taught about pubic hair, oral anything or how to control "feelings" for someone. I acted on all whims, was driven by being accepted & fought to be with the cutest guy. My kids are not shallow like I was, thank goodness!
  • I allow them to make big decisions, sometimes, after being informed of possible consequences. eg. Whether to purchase a scooter or a car, therapy & meds, their belief system.
  • I allow my child to hold whatever creatures they want, regardless of how creepy-crawly or slimy they are.
  • I keep stern watch over the computer usage, but DO allow Batman Villians to be plastered into cement walls, Facebook accounts (with only friends being added that they actually know & would actually chose to hang out with being their friends in person), You Tube to be frequented (mostly with supervision for my teens & my 6 yo MUST be monitored) and some strange Pirates game to be played by all kids in my home, including my husband who got them hooked on it in the 1st place.
  • I buy fruits & other foods that are strange to me, just because my teen son wants to try them. I tried star fruit & ugli fruit because of Hunter.
  • I make sure everyone has a key to the house on their person before leaving the house.
  • I provide cell phones to my children, because I want them to feel safe when out & so I can find them when I need a gallon of milk- but texting is optional in our family & must be paid by them, if they choose to communicate in that fashion.
  • I allow them to wear what they want, as long as it is clean & does not have holes that weren't meant to be there. Sometimes I bend this rule, if one child wants to wear the same shirt 3 days in a row... then I am just bored with their look & make them change.
  • I believe strongly in treating others considerately, but if they don't feel good and/or cannot, they can leave the general area that it is expected in. No fakey acting necessary.

When I was young, I had most of these options, too. (minus the technology), but was also missing the information about the family's secrets & the family's business.
That bothers me. I don't have one secret that I have not told my kids about, well maybe a few, but if they asked, I would tell them, probably...

I strive to be balanced and objective. I hope I do a good job.


Laughing Stars said...

What a beautiful, honest post! I love everything you had to say, about the positive and negative aspects of your childhood and about your guiding principles as a parent.

High Quality Mothering said...

Thanks for your support, Steph. I feel secure, but still question... why is that?

Paige said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing your views and your past. Your kids are so lucky to have you as their Mom and guide through life!