Reminiscing about what type of parent I once thought I would be and what I ended up being as a parent. This is a list of misconceptions I had and still struggle with.
1. Childhood should be the very best years of our children’s lives. We should do everything in our power to provide a magical experience full of bliss. – Nope, not anymore. Done feeling guilt and pressure about not measuring up in this area. I don’t want to raise a perfectly happy child. I want to raise an individual who learns how to pursue peace and happiness throughout their whole life. It’s give and take, and giving is part of a satisfying life. Happiness is a journey not a destination.- Souza I need to give an example of how to be a happy adult.
2. Children deserve an answer to everything you say. No!… I’m the one responsible for this ship. If I have time I will explain. However, there are plenty of times that children just need to respond to authority respectfully. Besides, obsessive questioning from these sophisticated beings can be a manipulative tactic to delay doing what they’re told. Or if they are lucky we will get so exasperated we give up or do it ourselves. Chances are at some point they will be expected to follow rules or they’re fired.
3. Parents should consult expert advice when making choices about their children. Hmmm. What a wonderful way to become incredibly confused. It’s a constant struggle to go with my gut regarding my kids. It’s hard to trust that I know what’s right for them. We are all novices. One thing is for sure, there’s no expert that loves my child more than me. I have to be fearless enough to trust my instincts rather than deferring to an expert.
4. Kids need to be well-rounded individuals. We need to give them ample experiences so they can discover who they are. This is certainly the path to not knowing self. We race kids here and there so fast they don’t have a minute to just be with themselves, quietly and reflectively. There’s not a moment to think and be still. I would turn into a zombie if I had someone carting me here and there from morning until bedtime. Humans need solitude. Humans need to sit with themselves regularly to reconnect with their personal identity.
5. Kids should be restricted to a few hours of TV and electronics every day. Oh boy! This is a tough one. This is the society many of us grew up in…constant outside stimulation. My home has 3 kindles, 1 TV and 1 computer. They are overused. I’ve been teaching a Sunday School class for 3 years and we get into discussions about our biggest life sucks. These kids admit that by far, its electronics followed closely by after school activities. One Sunday morning a boy told me he hadn’t left his room since Friday after school. He was embarrassed but also felt guilty knowing his parents have to work hard for everything they have. It’s so tempting to hook them up and know they are at least safe. But I truly believe we are creating kids who think their reality is on a screen. I need to improve here, big time.
6. Kids have to be very successful in school in order to become well-adjusted adults. NO! NO! NO! I think back to my childhood. I distinctly remember the main lessons I learned from school…like learning where I ranked in the pack. I remember learning that I wasn’t the smartest or the dumbest or the prettiest or the ugliest.. I remember learning to be quiet and cooperative. I remember learning that I didn’t have what it takes. I never got any sense of my actual personal identity in school. I learned 90% of everything about life and myself from my life outside of school. I hope my kids learn a lot at home. Being outside with the neighbors or alone to explore the World. Building forts, creating clubs, dreaming up ideas, planting gardens, doing work, playing games, traveling.. that’s where it’s at. Kids need to be educated, yes, but that’s such a small part of the big picture. They learn the lasting life lessons in the home and outside exploring and playing. We shouldn’t be skipping family meals and important conversations and playing together to complete homework worksheets.
7. Kids need to figure out for themselves what their values are. This makes me sad. We have to give them some examples to build on. Learning from electronics, TV, school and extracurricular is hollow and not enough to prepare them. If we are to afraid or bogged down to show them any examples of faith or spirituality, then what do they have to decide on? Ultimately we choose our beliefs as adults, but we need to share what we have discovered about life, hope and faith as an example to our children. Otherwise our example is that no one chooses anything for themselves regarding these important soul topics.
I guess I will probably revise this list 5 and 10 years from now. I hope my experience as a parent continues to teach me what is important in life. The biggest misconception I had was thinking I would teach my kids everything they need to know. Truth is they teach me just as much or more.