As I write this I’m kind of giggling. I have never proclaimed to be a perfect parent and believe me I can see my flaws, add the ones I don’t see and I think I might owe my kids therapy when they get older. But that’s ok! My husband and I have done the best we can, we love our kids and give them much more then the government requires (you know a bed and 3 squares). Each of our kids was badly wanted. I didn’t get pregnant easily, which is why there is such a large age spread between them 24, 20 and 14.
Before we had kids we were constantly asked, “When are you starting that family”. While the person asking didn’t realize that we were trying and didn’t mean to hurt my feelings it did. When a family member popped 3 kids in 3 years and exclaimed “Man I wish I had your problem”, that didn’t really help either. Eventually, we got our 3 kids and we’re thrilled with each one. We don’t love them all the same, and we don’t treat them all the same, but we do love them with all our hearts.
Our kids are individuals and we try to treat them as such. My daughter Sarena 24, was the most stubborn baby you could ever come across. It was her way or the highway, until I learned to play her game. If she was slamming her bedroom door, I took it off the hinges. If she wouldn’t eat her dinner, she got it for breakfast. Every teachable moment with her had to be thought out. Spanking, grounding and timeouts were not something that taught her. She has turned into a lovely young lady that I truly love. Not just because she’s my daughter but because she’s a kind, loving human being, but still stubborn.
Ian 20, on the other hand… Well, he was another story. He was quiet, not a crier but a thinker. This sweet boy was full of love and caring for others. He was also a button pusher and quiet mad scientist. Ian doesn’t have the stubborn temperament of his sister. When he was small he pushed buttons, not mine but anywhere he could find them, cars, elevators, fire alarms etc. I’m sure you get the picture. Pulling him away from would be disasters was a 24/7 job. At 2 he took down a huge Super Bowl display in a grocery store. There were soda cans everywhere and I remember grabbing him out of the cart and running out the store in tears. The scientist in him began to develop at about age 3. He poured gas in his toy airplane because he thought it would really fly, he took steel wool to a 9 volt battery (that he took from our smoke alarm) and started a fire on his bedroom floor. YEA! He outgrew most of that and has become a really kind and caring individual. Punishment wasn’t exactly our biggest worry with this one, it was keeping everything out of his reach and trying to stay one step ahead of him. This last weekend he hosted a family cookout at our house. It was so enjoyable watching him play host to his grandparents and siblings!
Quinn 14, still has a lot of growing up to do. He was an early baby and weighed in at a whopping 5 1/2 lbs when he was born, he wasn’t breathing and had jaundice. So from the day he came home he has been doted on by his siblings, parents and grandparents. He’s our joker and prankster. He was always sneaking off with both of his grandpa’s hats, grabbing everyone drinks, and insisting he was hatched not born and is part chicken. This kid has not only brought great joy to my husband and I but to the whole family. Being the baby, and doted on though brings a certain amount of spoilage. At one point I had removed everything from his room and he quietly laid on his bed playing with his fingers. Grounding, doesn’t do much, incentives on the other hand (yes, I will bribe him) works well. While I give teachers a lot of credit our middle school’s system failed all 3 of mine and they had the same teachers (big surprise). Quinn had 2 teachers he didn’t like this year and so wouldn’t do the work in the classes. He only hurt himself but for this final semester we offered him chickens and a coop if he passed all of his classes. He didn’t pass them all but it isn’t because he can’t, it’s because he won’t. For most of the semester he had all A’s but slowly, the two teachers he didn’t like, their classes began sliding downward. (He’s still getting the chickens because he put a lot of effort in and came to his father and I to talk about those 2 teachers.)
Being an older parent with this last one has given my husband and I ideas on how to deal with him, work with him and embrace him the way he is. Had he been the first child I don’t know that we would still have hair left.
Each child is different and deserves to be treated like the individual they are. ALL children deserve to be loved and treated with respect. Parenting is hard work and in my opinion there is no right way to parent but there are plenty of wrong ways. Doing the best we can with what we have is so important to our families.
So my question is this, what is/was your parenting style? What did you learn along the way that may help someone else?