BELGIUM : Parenting – Keeping Them Close

BELGIUM : Parenting – Keeping Them Close

Close_K10KTimes are confusing for a parent. Library shelves are filled with parenting guides. Tips and tricks for the perfect reward system are stacked next to the rant on why keeping rewards from a kid is essentially the same as punishing him or her. Online you can find the benefits of co-sleeping a click away from co-sleeping horror stories. Natural parenting blogs are hijacked by those who think kids these days just need more discipline.

I’ve read a lot of those books, blogs and papers. Some in despair, some out of curiosity and some even at the request of my son’s psychologist or as optional literature while preparing for the adoption of our daughter.

Did I get any wiser? Yes I did. But not necessarily in the ways the books and blogs were meant. At first I just concluded that the parenting style you adapt should be customized, to you and to your child. I took some advice from one book and integrated it in a style I found on a blog. It worked, for a while.

But still the situation left me puzzled. Why do we need all this in the first place? Why do I know so many children who regularly see therapists? Why do parents feel like they lack the parenting skills that should come naturally to them?

I for one don’t think that we as parents have all suddenly been deprived of the parenting skills our grandparents had. And I refuse to believe that more children are born with or develop disorders these days.

So if it’s not the parents and not the children, what causes us parents to feel like we are failing and need help?

I hope you don’t expect me to have the answer. I’m only another struggling mother. My six-year-old throws toddler tantrums when I talk to other grown-ups and thinks just about everything is either boooooring or unfair. My eight-year-old gets frustrated and even aggressive over one math mistake while all other 49 exercises are correct. These are the small issues we have on a daily basis. I won’t go into the big ones.

The only answer I have found for myself is that the way my children react to me depends highly on the state of our relationship at that point. Because we’ve been taught in our adoption course about the need for attachment between parent and adopted child, we tend to invest a lot of time in one-on-one time with our daughter. To keep the balance, we do the same with our biological son. To me, this is the only approach which has worked for both of my very different kids, and which keeps on working whenever we invest time in it. Yesterday I had some lovely one-on-one time with my daughter at the lake and today, nothing is boring to her. She doesn’t disobey, she’s helpful and polite. My son, on the other hand, will go to an amusement park with friends today. I know for a fact that he will be unbearable tonight, unless I keep him very close from the moment he’s back.

So is that it? Is keeping your children close the answer? Is it not the parents nor the children that have changed over the last decades, but their relationship?

Honestly, I don’t know. It might. The changing relationship between parents and children nowadays might be what’s causing the boom of parenting books. Children do seem to orient themselves more to their peers, or to pop stars for that matter, instead of to their parents. As a consequence, said parents seem to lose part of the authority that used to be natural to them. And without authority or influence, you’re nowhere as a parent, are you?

It might seem suffocating or overprotective, but for myself, I will continue to try and keep my children close. We will wear crazy matching outfits from time to time, we will cook and cry together, we will cuddle and pillow fight. I will keep investing in that state of our relationship. Because the moments I open myself up to be close to them, either physically or mentally, I don’t need therapists or parenting guides. I don’t even need parenting skills.

With my children close, I can just be a parent.

How do you feel about the booming business of parenting guides? Do you believe keeping your children close is key?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K @ The Penguin and The Panther.

The picture in this post is credited to the author.


If you ask her about her daytime job, Katinka will tell you all about the challenge of studying the fate of radioactive substances in the deep subsurface. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising four kids together with five other parents, each with their own quirks, wishes and (dis)abilities. As parenting and especially co-parenting involves a lot of letting go, she finds herself singing the theme song to Frozen over and over again, even when the kids are not even there...

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NEW ZEALAND: Silver Linings

NEW ZEALAND: Silver Linings

KarynAlmost three years ago, we had the option of buying a big house in town or an apartment sized house on a small block of land. With three boys who had outgrown the space we had in town, we moved to the countryside. It’s been a great move and I feel very at home here. There is space for energy to be burned and huts to be built. There is mud. A lot of mud. There are fruit trees and a small forest. No, there isn’t enough room inside, especially when it’s midwinter and there are more than our family in the house. (Groups of 12 yo boys take up a lot of space!) I have culled and culled and culled and we still have too much stuff for the cupboards. But all in all, I’m pleased I’m here.

Before the move, one of the things I was dreading was the extra driving I was going to have to do. My boys go to school in a small city 25 minutes from home and I work in the twin small city, 25 minutes drive in the opposite direction.. The boys have friends spread out all around the area, it’s not unusual for me to drive 700km (about 430 miles) in a week and that can equate to a couple of hours each day.

While I don’t mind the actual driving, anticipating what wasn’t going to get done during that time bothered me. And it’s proven to be a justified expectation. There are weeks when the basics are all that get completed. I relish my days when I don’t have to go anywhere and at least some holiday time at home is essential for my mental health. But there has been a major up side to all that time in the car: Time with the boys, either in groups or individually, and time alone.

I get to have one on one time with each of the three boys most weeks; I get to listen to them and their friends yakking about what’s important to them (if you don‘t say anything, you learn all sorts of things); I get to talk to them about life and they get to tell me about life. We laugh, we rant, we sing, we are silly together, we plan what needs to be done when we arrive home. Sometimes we listen to talking books and at other, rare times, there is companionable silence.

I also really value the time I get in the car alone, with my thoughts or listening to cds. I have mentally worked through discussions, organised my day and contemplated the scenery. I have tuned out, sometimes, to the point where the car seems to drive itself.

And, from time with the boys to time by myself, I can see that it’s all been valuable. The silver lining(s), as they say.

Have you ever dreaded something and then discovered that there was magic in the reality of living that experience? How much time do you spend travelling each week?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our writer and mother of three boys in New Zealand, Karyn Van Der Zwet.

Photo credit to the author.

Karyn Wills

Karyn is a teacher, writer and solo mother to three sons. She lives in the sunny wine region of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in the city of Napier.

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