I owe my life to my parents. They taught me how to love and how to treat others. They taught me good manners and how I should act in public, appropriately as a lady. They taught me how to fail and how to succeed. They taught me to be brave. They taught me how to live.
But when I started to understand how their parenting system worked, I began to get around it. I incessantly fought with them and tried to rework the system. It became my system, and I wish they had continued to parent me rather than give up.
When I stopped fighting the system, my parents became my best friends, but this was not until the end of my senior year of high school. They were excellent at picking up my pieces when I failed and when I was broken, and they tried to praise me for being good. However, they did a lot for me, which is part of the problem.
I want my kids to have a childhood the way I did, but I want them to be able to grow up with two things: a backbone they have to fight against to find their voice and know that they can’t have everything, and a loving supportive system that walks beside them, not pulls them along. I want them to find themselves before their classmates and peers influence them.
1. I am not going to let my children give up on their passions. My parents let me have the easy way out. I have tried every sport, every instrument and every hobby. When I got really good at something, I quit. And my parents let me. I want my kids to apply to college and have something they are incredibly passionate about that they want to share with the world. I am not letting my kids give up on everything, especially when they are too good at it.
2. I am going to give them three presents for each holiday: something they want, something they need and something to read. I will reward them for successes and praise them for milestone with more lavish presents, but I want them to grow up to be grateful for what they have.
3. I am not buying them electronics until they are in third grade. I got my first cell phone when I was a third grader. Granted, this was still early for my generation, but my sister was four years older and when she got something, I pleaded my parents for the same thing (and they gave in, which I am promising myself I will not do). It sickens me when I am out to lunch or dinner and I see young children playing games and watching videos on their iPad and iPods. It is important for children to be exposed to some creativity through movies, games and music, but there are plenty of traditional, old school ways to indulge.
4. I am not letting my daughter[s] wear make-up before fifth grade, at least. My daughters should not have anyone to impress by putting on make-up until they are only enough. Today’s hook-up culture is beginning at younger and younger ages and I will not help my daughter grow up faster. I am going to teach her to be confident without needing to wear make-up.
5. I am not going to tolerate bad behavior. If my children put up a fight or have tantrums, I am instantly going to take privileges away. My parents were never good at that. They would tell me they would take something away from me, and I would either hide it, or they would take it, hide it and I would immediately find it.
6. I want them to be able to come to me. I may not have been alive as long as my parents, but I have made more mistakes, and bigger ones, for the matter, than a person should at my age. I do not want my kids afraid of me knowing the drama they are having or how their friends are acting. I want to be a resource for them.
7. I am going to encourage my kids to have friends they “grow up” with. That means friends they see as family. I was always envious of my friends’ families who spent holidays with their family friends. My friends have friends they see as family that they have grown up with and spent quality time with every year. My parents lost contact with the families we used to get together with, and I think there is something really special about having people that have gone through all of your life alongside you.
8. I’m not going to let them grow up too quickly. I experienced things I should have never experienced at too young an age. I am going to pay close attention to who they are friends with. I want my children to be protected, but still have freedom to make their own choices and the people you surround yourself with are significant to the decisions you make.
You might be laughing to yourself, “Good luck, when you actually have kids you will realize how hard it is to do all that.” You are probably right. I will not be a perfect mother and I will undoubtedly fail and not live up to these 8 things in every situation, but I am going to try my hardest to teach my kids the importance of why I want to live out these passionate views of mine. I am not trying to punish them. I am trying to help them.