When you become a parent things change.
Saying that children turn your life turns upside down, inside out and back again is most definitely not an understatement.
Bodily changes, sleep deprivation and related mental breakdowns aside, one of the major changes is the relationship with your own parents. Because in a weird way you are suddenly equals. You are both parents.
Granted, your parents might have a bit more experience on the job, but you might consider yourselves employees of the same company now.
You are the newbie and they are the old stalwarts who will insist on explaining how the coffee machine works. Even though it has only one button. And just like in the office, you each have your own way of going about the daily job that is parenting.
It was my father who pointed this out to me when he remarked that I was a very different mother to my children than my mother was to me.
Of course this is true, mainly due to the fact that I’m NOT my mother (no, really, I’m not my mother, I might have started to look a lot more like her, use the same phrases, and have taken up some of her habits, but I AM NOT MY MOTHER).
Characterwise my mom and I are poles apart. She is one of those patient, focused, well-organized, grownup creatures we all secretly wish to be. And I am an impatient firecracker, who is working on a million things at once and who can never be bothered about matching socks.
But I have to admit that my parenting style is different too. Some of it is deliberate and some not.
For instance, I never deny my children a food or beverage using the words ‘it will make you fat’, opting instead for ‘it is not healthy’ or ‘it is bad for your teeth’. I know this is no guarantee for avoiding any body-image/food–related trouble but I like to think it gives them a better chance for avoiding the damage some of us (myself included) went through.
Neither do I use spanking as a means of punishment. My parents spanked, but I quite frankly don’t see the point. Within a few years withholding privileges and time outs will probably looked upon as barbaric and the toddler shock collar might be all the rage but for now the “Go to your room and no movie” or “Pull out all the weeds from the garden” work for us.
My girls enjoy a greater amount of freedom then I did at their age. For instance there are A LOT of unscheduled play dates. Especially during summer, it is not uncommon for me to walk into the kitchen and find myself confronted by five children. My friends were welcome to come and play, but there had to be a call and confirmation from both sets of parents in advance. Permission still has to be asked and we need to know approximately in which house they’ll be. But planning… nope.
I won’t even begin to describe the difference regarding electronics and their use. Remember I was born in a time when a phone with push–buttons instead of dial ones was considered cutting edge. The mobile phone was something straight out of a science fiction movie. Plus I lived in Africa, where there was no such thing as TV. Although we did in fact own a television the only thing it played where VHS cassettes (remember those!?) which were sent to us by friendly relatives left behind in Belgium.
The one thing we do have in common though is that we both do our best.
We do our best to ensure our children grow up happy. We try to avoid ‘mistakes’ of the past. We try our best to make sure the little humans in our care grow up to be level-headed adults and can only hope our pottering along will turn out all right in the end.
Do you ‘parent’ differently compared to your own parents? If Yes, how so?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes. Photo credit:Eric Danley. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
Aww, Tinne, I love that — the one thing in common is that we both do our best — YES!!!
This is such a great post! And reminds me of my own, “My child is not me.” I however don’t think that raising a child makes someone an expert on children. I would say, it’s more the other way round, the grandparents are more like retired parents who may be allowed to do some works, but the company is now run by a different management. I mean when someone raised children, they raised their children, not all children and most things can’t be exptrapolated to other children. And I agree, times are changing and we do things differently, and there are character traits as well.
Very true, Tinne. I love what you said about both doing your best – that’s all anyone can ask of a parent, really. I’ve seen both kinds of grandparents in my life – those who want to jump in and tell you how to do everything the way they think you should do it and those who stand back and let you do your thing and are happy to help when asked. Very different approaches – none any less from a place of love and interest in being helpful, I think, but often received very differently.
But times do change and people do change and the world our kids are growing up in is not the same (in some good ways and some not so good) as the one we grew up in. And so all we parents can do today is – like ours did – do the best we can with what we have. And pray. A lot! 🙂
As it turns out, despite the relocating kids abroad every few years and fostering couple of languages in our house, in many ways I parent like my parents did. Like them I encourage: lots of play outside, lots of parent-kid time, lots of instruction to figure it out for yourself/go play with your brother/I’m on the phone can it wait/read a book. I relegate TV/device time to as needed to keep my sanity. I am myself with my kids — as my parents were with me. They were — as it turns out — pretty good role models.
I come from a dysfunctional family. I still clearly remember consciously thinking that I had a “little black book” in my mind where I “wrote down” all the things that I would never put my children through! I’m extremely proud of the fact that my family now is NOTHING like my family of origin. The only thing I learnt from my parents was what NOT to do!
I love your post, although I can not really relate. I agree with Simona on this. I learned how NOT to run a family, I guess.
But I do envy your kids for having so many kids coming along unscheduled! I wish my kids had friends nearby to play with! We have to schedule EVERYTHING because we have to drive them to their friends…
I am in a very similar boat as you. But in my case my mother is also parenting my children, since she takes care of them during the day while I am at work. This makes an interesting conundrum, since I often disagree with choices that she makes for my children, and her response is usually along the lines of “well you turned out fine, didn’t you?” Hmmmm….. That has yet to be determined 😉
I love this post, Tinne!
It made me a little nostalgic when you mentioned the dial phone. I remember how I once sat in the back of the car in a car full of kids on my way to a party. And I don’t mean the back seat! No, way in the back. It was common back then and you were the lucky one if you got to sit in the back. Car seats? I don’t even know if they existed then.