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Why I Decided to Parent Different Than I Was

I want to start off by stating that this is not meant to be about what parenting style is better or worse. This is my opinion based on my childhood and parenting experiences.

Becoming a parent

Even before I became a parent, I would listen to those around me who said things like, "spare the rod and spoil the child" or if you don't spank your children, they will become spoiled brats. I went into parenting thinking I would do things a lot like my parents had. I thought I would punish my child when she stepped out of line. I thought I would push her to do well in school, and I thought I would want her to fear me so she wouldn't be my friend. These were the things I was taught were important in order to raise a good member of society.

However, once I became a mother and I saw my child, my thoughts on parenting began to change. I began to reflect on my own childhood and I realized it wasn't as wonderful as I had told myself it was. I decided that I would parent in a different way, I just wasn't sure what that would look like.

Reflections of My Childhood

My childhood was one of constant change, fear, and neglect. My father was in the military so we moved several times, and my parents got divorced when I was nine. These were big changes in my life. New schools, new friends, new ways of doing things, everything seemed to change.

My parents ruled by fear and obeying. Things weren't explained to me, it was "because they said so". We were sent outside to play while our mother cleaned and had her time during the day. We were expected to behave and conform to standards even the adults around us didn't adhere to. It was "do as I say, not as I do" in our household. Children were to be seen and not heard. Punishments involved yelling, spanking, grounding, and degrading.

As a result of my parent’s way of parenting, I became a people pleaser. I became the person anyone needed me to be, just to make it through. I allowed others to bully me because I thought I deserved it. I thought everyone else was better and more important than me. I was naïve and waited for people to tell me what to do, instead of figuring it out for myself. Sure I made a good daughter, student, and employee, but I completely lost myself. I didn’t know who I was because I was too busy being who everyone else wanted me to be. I didn’t know what I liked or what I wanted to do with my life. I felt lost and confused.

Parenting a New Way

I began my parenting journey a complete mess. I was overwhelmed and terrified that I would do everything wrong. I can remember bringing my daughter home from the hospital and being in disbelief that I was now in charge of raising a human being. I couldn't believe the hospital entrusted me with this child, no questions asked.

I had read books, but I still felt overwhelmed. The options for parenting are endless. How does anyone know what is best? I soon began to find out that no one every really knows. It's all trial and error. We try new ways of doing things until we figure out what works for our children and family.

Everyone will tell you that consistency is important, but if it's not working, then it's perfectly fine to try something new. Very rarely did I go into a new parenting dilemma and go with my first option. I tried new ways until something stuck and worked.

Every Child is Different

This is key to keeping a peaceful family. Know that every child is different and parenting is not one size fits all. You have to figure out what works and motivates each child. If you have multiple children, know that what works for one may not work for the other.

Also remember that what is important to you, may not be important to your children. Our children are their own people and we should respect who they are. Them being different than us is not saying that we are wrong. There is no right and wrong way to life. There are endless roads to happiness. The important thing to figure out is where each person fits in.

I was determined to give my daughter all the things I didn’t receive when I was little. But what I soon discovered was since her circumstances and personality were different than mine, she wanted different things. Her wants were different than mine. I had to adjust and be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

How do You Know What Your Child Wants and Needs?

The easiest way to find out what your child needs is to ask them. No really, ask they what they want. Ask them what is important to them. But, once you ask, you have to listen to their answer. Like really listen. Listen to understand, not to answer or question.

Once you know what you child wants and needs, do it. Parenting shouldn't be a power struggle. It's not about who is in charge. Parenting is about helping our children grow in to the people they were meant to be. It should be a loving relationship filled with teaching, encouraging, and supporting. Our children are not an extension of us, they are a part of our family system. They come into this world not knowing anything and it's up to us to show them how to make it in the world. If you can't count on your parents to be loving and understanding, then who can you ever really count on?

My goal as a parent, is to be the safe place for my daughter to go when she has questions and problems. I want her to know that I will always be there for her without judgment. I want her to know that I expect her to make mistakes and that it's not the end of the world when she does. I want my daughter to become the person she wants to become. I want her to be a confident, loving individual. So far I would say things are great! We're figuring out life together and I'm also finding myself along the way.



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