Parents should deal with pending issues from the past
We are in the process of phasing off our house help. The reason is twofold on my part; the first is to teach the children responsibility and the second is for a free work out. With the harsh economic situation, it is prudent to cut cost at all levels and I figure that goes for the gym as well.
Many of my friends are discouraging me from doing it, but I am convinced that I am doing the right thing, teaching my children to be in charge of their personal space. I must admit it is scary to imagine losing the convenience of a hot cup of tea waiting for me as soon as I get home, but it is a small price to pay.
I have already begun seeing changes in my boys’ behavior now that they are in charge of clearing their own mess. Somehow they don’t make as big a mess as they used to. I have noticed that they clean it up much faster also. Two days ago I was amazed to see Toriah’s bed. He had spread it out perfectly with no bulge in sight. He did it much better than mine and he even offered to re-do mine. That incident made me realise that my children are capable of much more than I give them credit for.
I believe this is true not just for me but for majority of parents in the middle class. Most of us came from slightly disadvantaged backgrounds and without realising it we try to relive our childhoods in our children. We overcompensate. I remember when my children were much younger I did this with their toys. I bought loads and loads of toys (most of which I still keep even though my children are way past the age of playing with stuffed animals). In retrospect, and being candid to myself, I realise that the toys were never really for my children; rather they were for the little girl in me who never had enough toys. I see this pattern repeated in the various families that I interact with. In the little boy whose parents used the rod for every infraction, real or imagined, who never exacts any form of discipline to his children. In the little girl whose parents never had time to listen to her and she overcompensates by allowing her children to constantly interrupt her conversations.
The truth is unless we deal with some of the baggage that we carry from our pasts then we cannot give a balanced approach to parenting. Just being aware of some of the unresolved issues from your childhood will help you recognise when you are projecting them into your child’s life and enable you to stop and reconsider the action. Once I realised that the reason I kept buying toys and stuffed animals for my boys and struggled with parting with them long after they were useful, I was able to stop and reconsider every time I was tempted to make an impromptu purchase.
All said and done though, it is liberating to realise that parenting is not just a journey for the child but also for the parent. Like in all journeys, we shall no doubt make one or two wrong turns along the way. The key thing is to turn back and keep going and not to give up the race.