Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Raising Kids - Looking Back
I loved raising my kids. And I always loved each new stage even more than the last one!
Certainly there was some misbehavior. But the misbehavior doesn’t come close to defining my parenting experience – it was just a subplot woven through the grand story.
I think my adherence to traditional parenting methods was the key element that made discipline not a big deal. Sometimes when I write about Rosemond leadership parenting, people get the impression that traditional parenting is a cruel, heartless dictatorship. It is not. It is a clear, calm set of expectations that children learn to accept. With that acceptance, they develop more responsibility. With responsibility comes more freedom. As they grow through the preteen and teenage years, they often have more freedom than their friends. They also learn to think for themselves, manage their own time and persevere when things are difficult.
Traditional parents solve many problems before they ever get started. Their leadership guides children’s behavior from the time they leave infancy. They rarely have to implement a complicated or long term solution to misbehavior. They use consequences thoughtfully and wisely such that their children learn that being a good citizen member of the family is one of their most important responsibilities. But they certainly do use them and don’t apologize or fret about it.
Because my kids were reasonably well behaved and enjoyable for family and friends to be around, they had a lot of fun experiences. They really didn’t spend a lot of time in time-out or being grounded or having privileges withheld.
Within the traditional parenting framework, we had a rich and fun family life. Family vacations – from cottages to Disney World. And the birthday parties! Not the most creative person in the world, I somehow was a wiz at giving parties that kids loved – treasure hunts, face painting, dramatic skits, making masks, painting t-shirts and a wonderful afternoon at the beach for 13 year old boys – I worried they would be bored but all had a ball! And the daily routine that went with dance lessons, ball practices, scouting and school musicals. We insisted on a calm balance when the kids were in grade school, but as they got older, more independent and had more individual interests, they did get very busy. But by then, the planning and logistics were on their shoulders, not mine.
In the meantime I had a busy career and many other adult interests. That is another key to traditional parenting – you are available to your children when they truly need you, but you are actively involved in your adult interests and not at your child’s side every minute of every day. I did not have time to micromanage them, so they had to do it themselves if they wanted to pursue their interests.
Many people feel that parenting is the hardest thing they have ever done, but with traditional approaches, I found it generally easy and generally calm. No wonder I loved my parenting years!