Blogger sweet-P's Mum asked:
What is your parenting philosophy?
Sheesh, Hayley - heavy much? That’s not a quickie, it’s a dissertation!
I do, in fact, have some parenting philosophies...the only thing is, I feel a little silly mouthing off about them here, since I’m - well - not a parent yet!!
My theories have more to do with observation and, frankly, nothing to do with experience. But I’ll tell you my thoughts, at least in brief:
I think that recent generations of parents have been too heavy on the “entitlement” and too light on the “discipline”. No, I’m not talking about corporal punishment. Of course I know that the encouragement and flexibility of recent generations were a reaction to the harshness and inflexibility of earlier generations of parents...and so it goes, on and on. I’m sure there will be a backlash. I’m sure that people will go too far and there will be another correction in the future. That’s the way of the world.
As a product of a generation of kids who were taught that they could “do anything” and “be anything”, that the world was their oyster, and whose parents wanted to give their children everything they’d never had and then some, I have the hindsight to see the shortcomings of that practice.
In forming my own theories, I intend to go a little bit back in the other direction and say that there need to be some limitations. I think that the parents need to be in charge, and set consistent limits. That's what parents are for: guidance. I don’t think it’s healthy for kids to learn to walk all over their parents (anyone seen “Sweet Sixteen”?).
I also think that it’s good for children to have an understanding of work and responsibility from an early age. In recent years, we have seen the socioeconomic consequences of flying too close to the sun, of living on too much credit and with too little caution. I think that in light of what has happened over the past few decades, we have the foresight to teach our children that there are no guarantees, that sometimes it’s important to hedge some bets, that sometimes the bottom will drop out from under you.
I think that it’s important for children to contribute to chores around the house (at an age-appropriate level, of course) both for the sake of learning a work ethic and for the sake of their own self esteem - so that they feel that they’re a working and crucial part of the whole, that others rely on them, and that, when push comes to shove, they can rely on themselves to survive. I truly love that my parents (and many others of the time) told us that we could do and be anything, that there were no limits. I love that openness and sense of possibility.
But children also need to learn what it takes to achieve success (or at very least an honest living) along the path that they do choose. They need to have an understanding of the world and what it takes to survive in it, and they need to know that while life is wonderful and thrilling and sometimes full of opportunities, it’s not a bed of roses, and they’re not going to be handed the world on a silver platter.
Finally (and I might have put this first) I am a firm believer in teaching children to value, cherish, and work for the health of our planet. It seems so basic to me. Without the earth that we live on and all its complex ecosystems, we would not be here. Game over. I think it’s essential to learn to think of the natural world in every aspect of our lives, from our daily routines to our business practices. I won’t beat this into the ground, but to me it’s a basic tenet.
Now, I realize that I’m going to be perceived by many as having been raised in a bohemian lifestyle - and in a way that’s true (but believe me, there were no hippies in my family). You might think that I’d have my head in the clouds a bit, and a dreamy concept of reality. But hopefully the infinite practicality and impeccable homemaking of my Dutch-born mother will come home to roost in me at some point! I am also lucky to have a husband with an iron-clad work ethic, an entrepreneurial mind and a business degree in the making. I think we have a nice balance between the creative and the practical in our little household. Between the two of us, I think we should at least have a fighting chance of putting these high-flown theories into practice.
So, for what it’s worth - there’s the parenting philosophy of a not-quite mother.
Note: The bright-eyed boy at the top of this post is my husband, M. I put him there because I think that (in spite of some missteps in his youth...but how boring would it be if we didn’t have those?) he is proving himself to be the ideal product of a balanced upbringing. He was raised with ethics, discipline, culture, and a love of outdoors, and it shows. He is going to be an amazing father. And I’m not just saying that because I’m biased!
Labels: ask me a question