My husband Kemuel (another EP parent blogger) and I have co-raised three children, who are now in their mid-20s and successfully living on their own in careers and lives they have chosen for themselves. I remember how useful the advice of parents who had gone ahead of me was while I was actively in the trenches raising my kids — so I offer you these words of wisdom that provided me with strength and guidance when I needed it.
I think one of the cardinal rules of parenting is to understand your own parenting philosophy, and try to live by it. Parenting is a performance art, and you’ll do it better if you understand your motivation. What’s important to you as a parent To be the anti-parent of however you were raised. To instill a particular set of values (respect, tolerance, self-sufficiency, world domination) To produce a huge number of children to please your mom, who had ten kids of her own and is nagging you for more grandchildren (Okay, so I digress!!:) Seriously, until you know where you’re going, you can’t steer the boat.
My husband and I talked about this ad nauseum when we combined our families (our kids tell us we talk about parenting way more than anyone they’ve ever known — but perhaps they don’t hang out with a lot of parents — and both of us really value the skills of independence and creativity that our parents instilled in us. We were both the babies in large families (Okay, my littlest sister came along when I was seven, but I was the baby for a LOOOOONG time). My husband came from a family of eight and I came from a family of eleven.
Our parents, out of necessity, had to teach us independence — you simply can’t run a household with that many people where someone (even if they’re five!) isn’t doing their fair share. As my mother used to say, My goal is to raise you until you’re 18 and then you can leave the house. I know that sounds harsh to today’s parents — but out of that emphasis, my husband and I have had the skills to create and run three small businesses between us. He operated a martial arts dojo in Georgia for seventeen years, I’ve had a law practice for twelve, and just recently wrote a guidebook for teens wanting to design and host an educational fundraiser for the nonprofit cause of their choice. Our parents knew what they were shooting for, and they raised us accordingly. Out of their focus, we found the ability to create lives we love.
Thank you Mom and Dad!
WHAT IS YOUR OWN NUMBER ONE GOAL IN PARENTING? WHAT IS THE NORTH START YOU’RE GUIDING BY?