2/11/08

You asked, I answer (part 3)


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!

10 comments:

sweet-P's Mum said...

dude...write a book! That was awesome! Flynn is going to be one lucky kiddo with the two of you!

Hayley

Juliette said...

Again, so impressed how very similar we seem to see things.
Only difference is that for me it's more of a continuity, my parents were quite strict but still fair and open and I think it was a good balance so I stick to it for the most part for Maëlle.
Flynn is going to be ready for anything and everything with 2 great parents like you!

Chrissie Larkin said...

Wow! That was great! To be a "not quite mother" you already rock it! Hayley you keep it up!!! I am loving the answers to your hard questions!!! :)

krj said...

Being computerless (I'm at a friends), I just wanted to thank you for being so candid and sharing so much of yourself. I have so loved reading all of your posts answering these questions. I'm not a bit surprised that we are on the same page about parenting (think we had that conversation in an email once).

You are such an inspiration. I think Hayley and I need to take a trip to CO and visit :)

Rony said...

Thank you! Someone else who doesn't look through rose colored glasses. Parenting is a job and not one to be taken lightly. So many children today are being brought up with a sense of entiltement. Sure we all want to give our kids the best. But at what cost. No respect for their parents or worse others. It is my mission to teach my children the basic values that were instilled upon me while growing up. I was not brought up rich contrary to popular belief. I was from a working class contractors family. If I do nothing else in this life time my only goal is to raise good educated kids. Then I will have succeded.

Heather said...

Awww... you're well on your way to being a great mom! Hurry up CCAA!Personally, I can't wait until my girls are old enough to do chores. Hee hee. As a mom, I am a firm believer in letting my girls try, explore, and make mistakes while always being their soft place to land if they need it (and they will, at times).

Heather said...

Can I still ask a question? If so, do you have any predictions for what Flynn will be like?

Tamara said...

Wow, and I thought I typed fast. Good question indeed (and answer). I think your little wanderer will thank you two for this perspective someday!

Yoli said...

Flynn will love you two and she will grow up to be a woman of substance.

Carrie&Aaron said...

Love that answer-My children do chores-help feed the chickens and collect eggs-even at 2 1/2 little guy wants to help! My kids ask to help me do chores-fine with me and then the rest of the children follow! I am a strict mom only when they need it-and I love to have fun and be outside doing kids stuff so it balances out! Just give her your heart(which I know you will) and you will be great. Your a wonderful person and your family will be blessed!