Not My Style

I have to start by apologizing for the long absence.  It started by waiting for the Alaska pictures to be edited.  Then, it continued with the sending of said pictures to Mac Purgatory thanks to an OS update that was not compatible with an old version of Aperture (to which the pictures had already been uploaded and promptly deleted from the camera).  They’re still there, waiting somewhere hidden in the computer, mocking us and just completely inaccessible until we buy the software update.  Of course,  then the dry spell continued when life got crazy hectic and I went a week barely seeing my own husband, let alone having time to update a blog.  I know, excuses, excuses.  Thanks for sticking with us (and you have, you really have!) and waiting patiently for a new update.  So, without further ado, here is a (non-Alaska) update.

I was walking out of the school today when I heard an adult yelling at a little kid.  She finished the one sided conversation by telling the child to “go get [her] coffee.”  It got me thinking about parenting styles and things that I think I will or won’t do.  I don’t want to pass judgment on those I disagree with, because I don’t know their particular situations.  They might have good reasoning for what they do and far be it from me to say I’m the only person who is ever right (because I’m not.  I’m really not.  Ask my husband but not my mom because she loves me too much and will lie through her teeth about my perfection).

I have a list, as I think most people do who want children one day or already have children, of things I never want to do as a parent.  It’s pretty substantial and quite possibly unrealistic so I’ve whittled it down to three specific things that I feel incredibly strongly about.  I’m sure I’ll break my own rules on occasion.  I do it as a teacher.  We all have our bad days (yet another reason not to judge other parents.  You might just be seeing them at their worst moment).  But, here is my mini list.

1)  Child as Servant: Part of the reason I was so irked by hearing the woman at school telling the child to fetch her coffee was because I can’t stand it when parents treat their kids as servants.  I used to work with a woman who had five kids.  She was heavily overweight and the few times I visited her she would lounge on her couch and bark orders at her kids.  The tiny ones would happily comply, wanting love and affection.  The resentment in the older ones’ eyes far outweighed any benefit they derived from staying active unlike their sedentary mother.

2)  No Follow Through:  As a teacher, I see this a lot.  You contact a parent about behavior/grades/attitude and they speak with the passion and anger of an old school Southern Baptist televangelist about all the punishment they shall heap upon the head of their little sinner.  And they don’t.  One of my colleagues went through this just last week when he called home about how disrespectful and disruptive one of his students had been.  The parent got very angry and went on to promise that the child’s XBox would be taken away and he would not get it back until his behavior improved.  A few days later, with no improvement in behavior (and perhaps, even, some declines), the teacher asked the student if he was even concerned with getting his XBox back.  The child, confused, turned to him and said “what do you mean?  My XBox wasn’t taken away from me.”

No, I prefer the slow burning disapproval.  I prefer the parent who tersely says “thank you.  It will be taken care of” and then lets you go instead of filling your ears with details of all the ways they will punish their kids.  I prefer the parents who deal with their kids-  really deal with them- quietly and in private.  Those are the kids who come in the next day, tail between legs, and apologize for their behavior.  Those are the kids whose behavior shows an immediate turnaround.  Punishments don’t have to be extreme.  Kids don’t respond to shrieking and yelling.  They certainly don’t respond when they know you won’t keep your word.

Conjoined Identities: I think this is an easy trap for parents to fall in to.  If you’re a parent who is lucky enough to stay home, it’s easy to forget to nurture yourself while you’re busy nurturing  your kids.  It’s easy to let your kids become your hobby.  The problem with this is that generally, your kids are going to grow independent and you’ll be left alone with little sense of who you are anymore.  This week, I was helping with auditions for a one act festival I’m stage managing this summer and one woman seemed to fit this profile pretty clearly.  On the audition form, it asked about past experience, among other things.  As a final question, it asked if there was anything else important about the actor that they thought we should know (skills, experience, etc) but hadn’t asked.  This woman proceeded to write about how she was “proud to have a very talented 13 year old daughter named ——— who was currently starring in her middle school’s production of ————.”  It just wasn’t the right place to boast about your kid.  It was the opportunity to brag about her own accomplishments and talents and instead she could only think about her own child.

There are a lot of things I want to do too, so I will make a quick list to end this post on a positive note.  As a parent I want to encourage:

* a love of reading

* an active imagination

* a love of physical activity (there were teens and tweens doing the triathlon with Mr. Cookie last weekend.  Cool!)

* a curiosity about the world

* love and respect for those around them

* a positive take on life

* independence

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