But first, today I turn 31.
Last year I got sentimental on my birthday. This year, it’s no big deal. I’ve been securely in my thirties for a year now, & I can say, life is good as a grown-up.
I found this random birthday video from four years ago.
(I think 55 seconds in is pretty funny.)
Look at how little my boys were, & Amalia!
(Okay, so maybe this year I did get a wee bit sentimental.)
Last week we had a great discussion about homeschooling & being a working mom vs. a full-time stay-at-home mom.
You left some thoughtful comments–thank you!
I especially appreciated what April had to say.
She writes (I italicized what I thought were really important points):
“I am a Christian and I think among dedicated Christians there is this stigma that if you are a good enough mom who really loves her kids and values their spiritual upbringing you will home school. So many of my church friends home school for that reason. While I have no doubt that there are certain schools that are severely below par and equally no doubt that some children will thrive and receive a much superior education because of home school it is certainly not for everyone. In fact one of the moms I know that home schools never even completed high school or got a GED. For me personally, I have doubts if that’s the best thing for her children. Yes in kindergarten and 1st grade they are fine but what about as they grow? Her intention is to home school their entire lives….
For me personally I am with you Janae. I am a MUCH better mother when my kids are at school. Even with one in school full time and the other part time I still have 1 child all day every day and 2 children half a day every day and all day some other days. I *need* a break from my kids. Without that break I am not a good mom. So while I hold fast that I will *always, always, always* be willing to home school if I need to (lets say extreme bullying or something else) I am a better mother, now, if I don’t.”
April brings up an interesting & valid point.
Amongst religious folks (I’m speaking from my Mormon perspective here), there tends to be this idea floating around that if you are a good/spiritual/righteous “enough” mom, you’ll home school. I know that’s what my friend Sarah had been wrapped up in.
(Also, did you catch that Sarah found out about the post & read it, then realized she was the mom with seven kids that I was talking about?! Since she had moved away, I lost contact with her until I wrote this post & she read it because a friend had posted it on facebook & then she commented. You can read the unfolding in the comment section of the post.)
Anyway, this week, I wanted to talk about parenting in general.
About how it’s actually easier than most people think.
Modern parenting has morphed into a really weird thing.
There are thousands of parenting books, programs, techniques, methods.
Just today at Salem’s story time at our library, I overheard two moms talking.
“My daughter goes to Northwest Methodist Preschool for the Gifted,” (or some such school along those lines) mom one said with a proud smile on her face.
“Oh really,” said mom two.
“Yes, it’s a great school. You should look into it for your daughter. But you have to be prepared for sign-up day. Some people camped out the night before, just to make sure their kid got a spot.”
“Wow, that sounds like it must be a really great school,” mom two replied.
I thought–now this is preschool we’re talking about?
It got me thinking about last week’s post, where I ended with the following:
“No two families look alike, but the thread that unites each happy/successful one is love, time, attention. And any parent, no matter their working status, whether they home school or not, with some thoughtfulness, discernment, & perhaps a bit of creativity can give that to their child.”
Can I add to that?–whether they put their kid in preschool &/or private school or not? Have private tutors, music lessons, & a nanny, or not? (We’ve already discussed the extra-curricular dilemma as well as the importance of distinguishing between needs & wants.)
I think people fear having kids because it looks like a lot of work. It is. But it is easier than many people make it out to be.
So much of parenting is about creating the right type of environment where kids can be nurtured. Where they can grow (physically, spiritually, & emotionally). But a lot of that doesn’t require our intervention, or frankly much work on our part other than providing the home, the food, a safe & loving environment.
If the environment is right, we need only step in to intervene in moments to teach & to make sure they’re safe & that they’re learning values & faith. Beyond this, so much of childhood is about creative & inquisitive exploration. If we’re dictating every second of their every waking minute, there’s not a lot of room for them to do that.
Joseph & I have talked a lot about our own upbringings.
It’s interesting because we both come from larger-than average families (6 in his, 7 in mine).
All of our siblings are high-functioning, successful adults. And we’ve asked ourselves–what did our parents do right?
I’m sure there are a lot of things both of our parents did that helped us all become independent successful individuals, but I think one important thing is that they never did anything for us that we could do ourselves.
It’s sort of born of necessity because, in a big family, there is a certain amount of built-in neglect. Before you sound the CPS-alert, let me explain.
With four or five, or six or eight kids, mom &/or dad are just not able to do everything for their kids. So in order to survive, parents (I know mine & Joseph’s did) insist that kids learn independence from a very young age. That they learn how to dress themselves, tie their own shoes, entertain themselves by either playing with each other or reading a book. You don’t have to have a large family to insist that your kids do this, it’s just more likely it will happen if there are more kids in the mix because there’s less time for parents to devote to each child.
I was a very creative, independent kid growing up.
My mom never played dolls with me. In fact, other than reading me books, I can’t recall her ever playing with me. But that was okay, because I didn’t see her as my playmate (that’s what my cousins, siblings, friends were for–remember my more kids=less work post?), I saw her as my mom. Someone who loved me, cooked food, worked, read books to me. I could easily play on my own. I would talk to myself for hours. There was no shortage of reading materials in my house so as soon as I could read proficiently, I knew what I could do if I ever found myself feeling bored.
I think what modern parents need to learn from earlier generations is essentially this.
Ease up! Don’t do everything for your child. Don’t be a helicopter parent. Let your kid be bored (so then they can figure out how to entertain themselves).
This doesn’t mean you’re a laissez-faire parent.
You need to have clear boundaries (especially in regards to technology & media use). There needs to be rules & consequences.
But, kids need time & space to be kids, without the intervention or dictation of an adult. And that’s good news! Because that makes the job of a parent much more manageable than what I think many parents think they need to do to be a good mom or dad, which is: read dozens of parenting books, sign up for oodles of activities & lessons, play with & entertain their child constantly, host elaborate themed birthday parties, take trips to Disneyworld, make sure their child is never bored.
Amalia (5) recently wrote a list for Salem (3) of what they were going to do the next day.
What we’ll do in the morning:
eat, play, swim, & hug.
I think she needs to write a parenting book, don’t you?
What do you think–do think the modern parent over-thinks, over-does things? Have you read any good parenting books worth recommending?
P.S. I’m not against parenting books--I just think so much of what is out there is pure opinion & often you need to just go by a mixture of common sense, intuition & grace, rather than some “expert” opinion.
Here are a few I can recommend:
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