Пятница Ponderings: Parenting our Children

Ponder: to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate 
Пятница (PYAHT-nee-tsuh): Friday in Russian


It's interesting where your mind goes sometimes. I saw a post about some particular parenting style and it got me thinking about our parenting experiences.

Our children are adults now. Only one still lives at home. It's different parenting adults than it is
children. But, I'm glad they still seem to need us. 

Over the years I have purchased parenting books. And never read them. I have seen so many articles about parenting styles. And I rarely paid much attention.

The Doctor and I are both products of how we were parented. We all are. And it's up to us to make the conscious choice to parent the same way we were or change the pattern.

When we had children, like most people, we talked about how we wanted to raise them. And what it came down to, was Love. It was important that our children knew that they were loved. That was it. 

No matter what, we wanted them to know that we loved them. 

Because of his childhood, it was very important to The Doctor that anger and raised voices and yelling were not a part of our home life. And we achieved that. I can count on one hand, the times I actually yelled in anger. And each time, because it was an anomaly, the boys were shocked almost into submission! But getting angry never solves anything, so we didn't do it. 

The Boy asked one time if we ever spanked them. We said, on occasion, until they were able to understand us and reason. But it was rare, it was more of a tap and distraction and neither one of them even remembered it happening. Hitting kids serves even less purpose than yelling. 

Instead, we talked to them. As soon as they were old enough to communicate, we asked a lot of questions when they misbehaved. The reason behind their actions. I still remember The Artist drawing on the wall. And instead of getting angry that he did it, The Doctor asked him why he did it. The reply? "I ran out of paper." It became a teaching moment, rather than an anger moment. 

The Doctor is especially good at turning things into teaching moments. Still. I am in awe of him as a father. 

We were never afraid to be firm with them. They spent time thinking about actions. They lost privileges. But always, always, after one of them got into trouble, we followed through with love. Those teaching moments come from love and the time taken to talk about what happened.

When they were little he and the boys would have Snuggle Nights, where they would camp out in the living room. They watched movies and talked. And they knew they were loved. 

The boys learned to ask questions. They learned to express themselves and advocate for themselves. They learned that we would talk honestly with them about anything. 

We had so many amazing conversations. We still do. 

We also said, "Yes" as often as we could. It is often so instinctive to automatically say, "No", when a child asks for something. So, we said, "Yes" as often as we could. Because, then, when we said, "No", they knew there was a reason. So we went to parks and zoos, and played with Play-doh and played water balloons and did things even if I was tired or busy, because saying, "Yes" really isn't that difficult. Even the snake exhibit at the library. Still proud I managed that one, because I am deathly afraid of snakes. But it was important to them and not, ideal, but it was also not difficult to say, "Yes". And they knew that they were loved. 

Are we perfect? No. Have I apologized to my children for a reaction or saying something without thinking first? Absolutely. Are they perfect? No, but I think they're both pretty darn amazing. Will they have things they need therapy for? Probably. But I'd like to think they're resilient enough to deal with it. 

The Boy and the Artist love each other. Big brother may have had some fights, over the years, defending his little brother. But, they look out for each other and support and encourage each other. Even now.

Do they know they're loved?  Yes, they do. And I believe they would tell you that. We say and text, "I love you" often and we give lots of hugs. We always have. 

The Boy doesn't live at home anymore, but he's still nearby. And we text. It's so fun when he shares things. The book he just read. The recipe he and his girlfriend made. I do the same and I know he texts with his Dad and brother. 

We don't wait for him to text or check in, and neither does he. We just share bits of our lives with each other. And conversations and texts with the Artist who still lives at home, but is in school, works, and has a social life. 

It happens because they know they're loved.

Love is a verb. Kindness is important, especially in families. Love your children first. Talk with them, not at them. 

Our children are not us. Let them be them.