Monday, February 7, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Cara: Guest Blogger

I do love the guest bloggers. Not only cause it gives me a day off but, I love to have a different point of view other than mine and Jenn's. Today we have our mutual friend who will now be fondly referred to within, as Rosie the Riveter. (pictured above) For those of you not familiar with Rosie, she is a feminist icon in the U.S. She represented the American women who worked in factories during WWII, replacing male workers who were serving in the military. There was a song written about her back in the day that went something like this:
             "All the day long, whether rain or shine, She’s part of the assembly line.
                     She’s making history, working for victory, Rosie the Riveter."

That pretty much sums it up for me. 
Without further adieu I give you our guest blogger.... 

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Nobody asked for my opinion but the bloggers in residence have allowed me the opportunity to reply to Parenting 101, so with the utmost respect for them, here you go....

Thanks for the notes but...

I guess I was absent that day...not that I wasn't schooled but I was home schooled. I had wonderful fantastic parents that did not suck in anyway. They were giving, patient, loving and tried very hard to do what they thought was the right thing. They were even certified by the state (I am adopted). They set a great example as to what parents should be, but they, like the rest of us, were not perfect so neither are their children, especially me.

First let me say that I agree that there are parents that suck. The mother who left her 12 year old home alone to go across the country to get married, she sucks. The parents I know who drank, gambled and did drugs while their 2 sons struggled, they suck. The mom I knew as a kid who sat in her living room doing crossword puzzles all day while her 5 kids ran rampant, she sucked. But I digress, we were talking about Parenting 101.

Should you live vicariously through your children? Now this is a matter of perspective, isn't it? Now don't get me wrong, like everything else there are extremes when it can be detrimental but trying to keep your child from having your same regrets is different. If there was a sport you loved as a kid but chose what you thought might be cooler, like hanging out on the corner, you'd wouldn't want your kid to make that same mistake. Your child shows a talent or a passion for something but doesn't recognize it, you should encourage them, right. If you missed out on opportunities, you want to make sure your kid doesn't miss, is that living vicariously through them or is it encouraging them in the right direction and having pride at their successes? I don't know, having kids is kind of a do-over,  I know I could use a do-over for some things, don't you?

If you are not paying your mortgage so you can buy things for your kids, you are an idiot and have bigger issues than can be addressed here. If you are in a position to buy stuff for your kids, good for you, that is your prerogative. Just like it is mine to teach my children that you need to live within your means, earn what you get and that doing without will teach you resourcefulness. I have had this conversation with my 8 year old many times. When he asks why don't we have...? I remember to list the thing he does have, like our family, parents that love each other and him and that whatever things we do have mean more to us because we earned them. Not an easy lesson but one that should be taught. 

When I look at my kids, do I wish they could have more stuff? Of course I do but it is my job to make sure they don't care what the neighbors have, that life is not a competition with another person, you should only compare yourself to yourself and be a better you not better than, whoever.

I agree that being age appropriate is important, however I think you need to remember that my due time may not be yours. I think 8 is too young for a child to have their own computer, but there are parents, parents that I respect, that have given their 8 year old their own computer. They have their reasons I am sure, but that doesn't work for my household. I know 9 year olds with cell phones, I think its nuts but I am sure their parents have their reasons. Would it make things easier for me if there were some sort of universal age limits for everything, like drivers licenses? Yes. Does it makes it harder for me to explain to mine that he will need to be 12 before he gets one? Yes, but that is up to me. I need to teach him he needs to be responsible enough to handle it, that is my job as HIS parent. That is my opportunity to teach him that you need to earn it to get it, here in my little world.

Dealing with competition is hard, some people are more competitive than others and we live in a world were everything is a competition, right? Teaching your child to try to be first is natural, I think. It starts at mommy and me. Johnny is talking already, Janey is walking already. We all do it. Especially with our first child. Now I do not think that stepping on people to be first is to be encouraged but I do think that encouraging  your child to TRY to be first is OK and if they step on somebody on the way up I am sure they will meet them again, on the way down. Like the windshield and the bug, they will be on both ends of this particular conundrum, I am sure. As hard as it may be for you when your kid is the bug, chances are it will bother you more than it bothers them and the real trick is to not let them see that. If it does bother them, then teaching them to use that as inspiration to work harder next time is not a bad thing, is it? Look, I understand that you don't want to crush your 8 year old but if he is not on the superstar team because he is not as good as some of the other kids, it really doesn't matter what you call the team, does it? Don't you think he knows? Mine does. Here's the thing, if you are going to play, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.

Parenting. An Independent Study.

You see, I have a parenting style that may offend people or make them think I don't care and it goes without saying that I adore my children. They are special, amazing, miracles to me. To me, but not necessarily to the rest of society and I am a true believer that nothing in life is guaranteed. When I woke up one day to find myself with 3 sons I was painfully aware of the great responsibility to create 3 men. Not just men I would like to be around but men that would go out into the world and not be an entitled punk, not be a self-entered lazy person, not be a guy, be a man. 

You see when I remind my kids that the rules apply to them, I do so because the example is easy to see of people who park wherever they want, drive wherever they want, cut lines, don't do their homework because they were busy or their parents think its stupid. When I tell my kids they are not special it is not to irreparably damage their self esteem. It is to remind the that they are not better than anyone else any more than anyone is better than they are. I believe true self esteem doesn't come from empty compliments, telling him he is wonderful just because he showed up, getting a participation trophy or bragging to other parents. True self esteem comes from personal  victories, true accomplishments. If I puff my children up like balloons by telling them everything they do is wonderful they are ripe for the popping. If they earn praise they will have true confidence that can never be taken away. 

So as for me I will continue to tell my kids they are not special, that the rules apply to them, even when they don't like it, that your only competition is yourself, and that the best reward is knowing you have done your best, even if nobody else notices.

In the end, how someone parents their children is as individual as fingerprints, even for each of your own children.  The only prerequisite is to love them, try to do your best as much as you can and teach them that although someone else's rules are for them, my rules are the ones that count for my kids, for now.

Because I am the parent, self taught.


Jenn's two cents:  I never did well at independent studies.  Although my page is somewhat different than others, I try to keep it all the same.  What works for one child does not always work for others and sometimes you change the rules in the middle of the game. My older kids complain that my youngest gets things way before they did (i.e computer at age 8 - my oldest was 12, my middle was 11) but just like my oldest waited until he was 5 before he has a lolly pop or candy or juice box and I made all his baby food, the age just seemed to change as his sisters came along - Lu had a lolly pop at 2 and baby food out of a jar.   We all start out thinking we should be this or that kind of parent - but really at the end of the day we do what works best for us and our family. Thanks for the post Rosie!

Cara's two cents(ok more like four!): Well then. Great post and great comments. My two cents is this: While my previous posts about parents who suck and parents who need to get a clue where written perhaps in the heat of the moment, when things were really getting to me, I agree with a lot of what everyone said. I agree that a parent needs to be their child's advocate and biggest cheerleader. I can think my kids are the best things in the world but I surely don't expect you to. And I surely don't expect them to think they are better than everyone else. Are they better at some things than maybe the next guy? Sure. Is the next guy better at some things than them? Of course. That's life. I think rather than other people's parenting skills or lack thereof being my issue, because I agree we all do things differently, it's when their nonsense affects my life or my child's it causes me to get my back up. Ignore them? Yeah, well good advice unless it's always in your face. I do expect parents to act like adults, not children. I do expect them to remember it's children we are dealing with here and leave their issues, insecurities and political ambitions at the door. I know I do. I am not saying I don't have issues, but at least I know what mine are and keep them in check. And I would NEVER belittle someone else's child just to make my kid feel better. I always told my kids "Don't make yourself feel better my making someone else feel bad" Make yourself feel good by your own hard work, or God given talents. Never take any of that for granted because if you do everything for the right reasons with a kind heart, you will deserve all the blessings that come your way. I think we all need to remember we are in it together...going through the trenches like everyone else.  There will come a day when things don't go your kids' way or things go exactly they way they wanted. Either way they need the tools to handle both the right way. I can honestly say, it's great when someone says to me "your daughter has a beautiful voice" because she does (God given/developed over the years talent) but it makes me happier when someone tells me, "your daughter was so kind to the girl that was crying at play practice she is a wonderful person, you should be proud". I am. Very. I do think we are raising adults. In the end, when they leave the nest...are they well grounded, loved, self-confident, good people that make you proud? If so, mission accomplished.


Lisa Kennedy said...

When it comes to parenting everyone has their own style and unless a child is being hurt it's best not to judge that their way is the better or worse way.I am in a position where I see a lot of different families all with very different economic and familial situations.

I have to say I agree about the "special" thing. I cannot stand that when children are little everyone gets a trophy. That is not life. I think that personal accomplishments breed self esteem and confidence.

There are many different kinds of mothers out there and most of us adore our kids and do our best. My mother was not Miss PTA, she was not home baking cookies and making gourmet dinners. She didn't make sure I did my homework,go to religion,or join sports or clubs, she was very hands off in those departments. She was going through a lot. BUT, my mother taught me to love people of different colors and religions, she brought me into The City and I learned that "different" was cool,she taught me to appreciate art,and music and all kinds of off beat stuff. She also taught me, you can go through a lot, not be perfect and still be a great mother.

Thanks Mom -- because even though you weren't perfect, you were (and are) perfect for me :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for being a voice of reason! I am so tired of the judging that goes on. Parenting is the hardest and most important job out there and while there are lots of parents who I do not agree with when it comes to philosophy, there is not a single parent. I know who doesn't truly love their child. As I tell my kids, you are responsible for matter what anyone else is doing. It's a good lesson for grown ups too. At the end of the day when you put your head down to sleep you need to sleep with yourself, be proud of who you are and what you do, yours is the only opinion that matters, cause you can't fool yourself.

Anonymous said...

I agree whole heartedly with some of this post, however, on certain points I respectfully disagree. I think that it is quite contradictory to tell a child that "life is not a competition with another person, you should only compare yourself to yourself" and then in the same breath tell him that while you don't want to crush his feelings, he is not special, and is not on the "superstar team" because he is "not as good as some of the other kids". I do believe that life can be full of hard knocks but I do NOT believe that as a mother, it is my job to knock my kid down so that he can learn that it hurts before someone else gets to teach him that. I know first hand that it takes pride, commitment and effort to be successful but my mother taught me that without crushing my feelings AND without blowing sunshine up my you-know-what. I was taught that I have certain abilities and that I had to do the best I could with what God had given me. Period. There was no comparing me w/ others as THEY were not part of the equation. I was taught to respect the talents of others and acknowledge my own talents, all at the same time. I am very confident in my belief that I do not have to hurt other people to succeed or to teach anyone a lesson. I agree that trophies for "participation" may not be as valuable as those earned for significant improvement or exceptional performance. I also believe that when talking about young children, it really does matter "what you call the team" because it speaks volumes about the adults, not the kids. Some kids may demonstrate natural athletic talent early on, but there really are no "superstars" on local level youth/club teams. That designation is more appropriately saved for elite, travel-type teams designed for children whose talents truly exceed those of others in his age group. In my opinion, using labels to suggest that one group of kids is better than their peers unfortunately tends to speak to the insecurities of the adults involved. I believe that God has blessed everyone in some way or another, some "gifts" present themselves earlier in life and some later. And, since I believe that our talents and the talents of our children are God given, aren't we are supposed to demonstrate modesty while celebrating their blessings? I think, as adults we are best to love our children for who they are, special in their own right. We must always remember that while we may want our children to do as we say, our children will do as we do. Our generation seems to have forgotten that kids are not just small adults. Their hearts and souls need to be nurtured so that they can grow into the kind of adults that we will admire.

Patricia said...

Wow. So much anonymity. If you've got something say stand up and say it.
Here goes: reading is fundamental ..
Rosie did not say diddly about telling her kid he is not as good as other kids, just that he isn't better. Big difference. HUGE.

Cara and Jenn said...

Meant to put another two cents in the other day...reading certainly is fundamental. So is reading between the lines. And I am of the opinion that the anonymous are just ones who don't know how to register themselves on Google.

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