11 September 2008
Everything I am I learned from my parents...
While no parents are perfect, my children can be the first to attest to that, it's inevitable that they shape our lives (whether for good or bad.) I was contemplating my parenting style a lot last night. Sure it'd be great to say that I am just naturally good at discipline and picking out the perfect way to teach each child's different personality, but that would be far from the truth. It made me realize that just about "everything I am I learned from my parents."
I'm the youngest of 5 kids. My closest sibling and I are 7 1/2 years apart, and all of my older siblings are within 5 years of each other age wise. My parents had to learn and instill some pretty fancy moves in order to keep everyone in line, especially since, like most siblings, all of my brothers and sisters are different.
In response to my parents efforts they've turned out some pretty great kids. I have had the opportunity to watch them raise their teenagers to adulthood, as well as be able to watch them impart wisdom to their children about how to raise their children. As I've stated before, I have an uncanny ability to pick up and remember things I've heard, seen, or read (much to my husband's dismay because that means I'm generally right about EVERYTHING) even if it's random. So, I think all of my thoughts I have on parenting are just a culmination of all that I've seen and heard my parents do/teach.
From the beginning I was already following my mother's lead whether I knew it at the time or not. The first night we were home from the hospital with Noah he slept 8 hours straight. Regardless of the fact that the nurses said to wake him up to feed every x amount of hours, I followed my mothers lead and Noah got some much needed sleep. I let him set his own schedule until about 8 weeks. Then the training started... slowly but surely. I started waiting for him to calm down before I picked him up. Then as his ability to sleep longer grew I would let him cry and calm him down off and on around 3-4 months (whenever HE first started to show me that it was time), and from then on all of our kids have been 7pm-7am sleepers by 5 months. I learned from her it's okay to let kids cry and not coddle them, and as a result I have fairly independent kids, who come when they need us and love to have our attention, but are confident enough in themselves to do their own thing. Our kids learned around 12 months (again THEY started showing that they were consciously doing things... not maliciously, but consciously), so we started doing timeouts. As a result, when they do something wrong they know where to go, and they come out bouncing and fine afterward like nothing happened. They know they did something wrong, change their behavior, and know that WE LOVE THEM ENOUGH TO CORRECT THEM. If there's something I hear in my head all the time it is that phrase. I learned from my parents that it isn't fair to not teach your children how to behave properly.
Child rearing certainly isn't easy, and we have a long way to go. Personalities play a big role... I know this first hand, raising me reincarnate isn't easy, seems we don't see eye to eye, WEIRD... but I am confident that Nathan and I have laid a good foundation for the future. Sometimes we feel like we might be a little harsh, but when we really look at things, we're glad for the time we have put into correcting our children along the way. There were, and now that they're testing the water 'are', many nights where we've lost sleep over having to teach our children to stay in their rooms and go to sleep at night... but as a result we've had mostly full nights to spend with each other and to rest because of our efforts. We don't let the kids whine and scream for what they want, and while lots of times it would have been easier to just give in so they'd stop, we've been blessed with kids who use their words and say please and thank you. We've taught them that they don't always get what they want right away, and as a result they're pretty patient and able to do many things on their own. We allow them to be themselves, but work hard to make sure that they act within the perimeters that we see fit. We don't want to shatter who they are, we just want to help them on their way to becoming a productive part of society.
My actions on the road to helping my children become the best they can from newborn on is largely geared by my parents. Thanks mom and dad for being strong but kind. I learned a lot from observing you. While I don't hold you responsible for my self proclaimed character flaws (although, you guys aren't always PC either and have a knack for telling people straight up what you think they need to hear... so I do kind of think you have to take responsibility for that, I just need to control mine better :-D ), I want you to know that I am largely what I am because you had the strength to raise me right. I learned that what other people are doing isn't always right, and you have to be strong to stand against the tide and do what's best for your family. Never has their been a more influential couple in all the world.
From my parents I learned that families are forever. That the holy ghost will guide your footsteps in rearing children. That you should hold onto your spouse with everything you have. It seems so small, but even in church my parents were always together... never did a child sit between them. They were always united, and to this day still "date" and nurture their relationship. Their example is one that will live on because it has influenced 5 children who have followed in their footsteps.
Thanks mom and dad!