I cannot start this written post without first mentioning how grateful I am to come from a family that is close and in constant connection. My parents worked hard to ensure their children lived the best life possible and I truly could not have been more fortunate that God chose me as their daughter.
You know, through the years, I often wondered why God chose me to be their first-born daughter. The years were good and decent but man, they were rough too. Now, I’ve been told I wasn’t an easy kid to raise. I mean I have replayed days, time frames and certain years in my head countless times and now that I have daughters of my own, I am beginning to know I wasn’t the stress-free child of the family.
For me, growing up was difficult. I didn’t have an older sibling to look up to. I didn’t have an older cousin to watch from a distance. I don’t remember really talking about certain in-the-moment issues. If anything, the only conversations I do remember are the ones that usually led to punishment. Looking back, I feel like I was grounded all the time. (By the way, do parents even ground their children anymore?) The sad part for me is that I don’t feel like most of the reprimands were justified. Now before I go any further, I should mention that I know there is another side to all this…my parents. I guarantee their point of view is different. As it should be. Of course, there are two sides. There are two sides to every story but I am just here to share mine because my opinions are what is driving me as a parent.
Like I said, I was not an easy kid, especially in my teenage years. I had an attitude of gold! I could talk your ear off begging for what I wanted and I argued until I hoped things would turn out my way. I struggled in school; academically and socially. I just remember being all over the place with thoughts, emotions and I had so many questions that I never thought to ask. I know I could go to my parents with anything at all but there was always this awkward gap between us. One that never led me to talk about inner feelings. In fact, to this day I don’t really talk to my parents about personal feelings. It’s just how it is and I have come to accept it for what it is. There are only two people who I truly confide in, my best friend for years and my husband and that is more than enough for me now.
Clearly, generations are different than what they once were. As time has gone on, parents have become less strict in my opinion. Which I feel is a good thing to a fault. However, we still need parents to set the rules and stick to them. We need parents to teach children responsibility. We need parents to be there when their kids take leaps regardless if they fall. We need parents to be fully supportive to their children’s needs and expectations. We need parents to guide their children to work for their wants. But above all else, we need parents to really talk to their kids! I mean, dig deep in conversation and take time to learn about their children as they grow. In turn, I feel like everything mentioned above will be more obtainable. Society says, don’t be your child’s best friend and I strongly dislike this interpretation. Being present in your child’s life, in all aspects doesn’t mean you have draw a line across the term friendship. Set your parental boundaries. Do both and be both.
Growing up, I felt like I was the “test” child because I was the first-born. My parents were learning as each new stage approached which I have been doing since the day I became a Mom myself. Each phase is new and unfamiliar and you guys, my three old already gives me a run for money! Over the years, I watched my younger siblings be treated differently for various reasons. Remember when I said, I wasn’t an easy child? Well that is one reason for the change of treatment and I understand that now. In hindsight though, I was a kid, a teenager and I was learning as I went too. I took the difference of kindness, the extra spoiling and the ease that it was for my parents to be angry with me personally. I saw myself as the screw up, the disappointment and the let down all combined in one. I was jealous of how my parents treated my sibling and wished for the same respect and honestly, it fueled my want for independence. Looking back now, I feel like things could have been different by simply talking with my parents, confiding in them more and allowing myself to open up. To learn alongside of them but with their parenting style still intact. I tend to wonder if this would have changed my outlook on life during that time frame. I wonder if my parents would have trusted me more and in doing so, would that have calmed my arrogance as a teenager? In talking more, would that have led to fairness in parenting? In talking more, would our own parent/child relationship have been different today? I question these things and more every day.
Now the roles are reversed and I am the parent alongside my husband. We have hopes for our children and we aren’t ignorant to the fact that they may not play out as planned. We take each new phase as it comes and we tackle them as a team. We know that we will blink and have teenagers to raise and we know it won’t be easy. What we do know is that we want to be great parents! We want to be there for all the goals they accomplish, the fears they are met with and struggles they with manage. We want to BE the parents and BE their friend because you can do both, we truly believe that. Above it all, we want to the ones they really talk to. Whether it is at the dinner table, on the sidelines of a game, on a car ride or at a random shopping trip (we have girls, remember), our hope is that we are the people they open up to especially during the years that they are under our care. We want to treat them individually but fairly. Will it play out this way? Who knows. Our oldest is only three. But, I can say that we have already started to really talk to her. We answer all her questions honestly. We let her take a minute, sometimes five, after each tantrum and when she is ready, we discuss what made her act out. We dig as deep as you can with a toddler. At the end of the night, we read, we pray and we say “best friends” over a pinky swear. For now, this is enough.
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