I am not a big advice person. I don’t like to tell other people what to do with their lives, how to raise their children, and how to think. I feel that the discovery process is, in itself, so amazing that I would not want to interfere; so for me to jump in and tell you what you should do just doesn’t make sense. That said, I have raised (and am still raising) children to adulthood. Some of my experiences might help other parents.
Many parents evaluate their success by whether their child graduated from college, has a lucrative career and is getting married to an equally successful person with the potential for grandchildren. I challenge this type of measuring stick. It is purely outward appearance and meaningless.
My primary measuring stick includes knowing that my children, when facing difficulty, have the strength and tenacity to find solutions. During these times of difficulty, do they maintain a standard of honesty and integrity, or do they cheat and steal their way out? Do they love those around them? Do they support their friends and family? Do they cultivate compassion and empathy? Or are they focused only on getting out of difficulty any way they can? Can they be happy with a little or do they need a lot to feel happiness? Are they critical thinkers, looking beyond their own condition to the condition of others? Are they a part of the solution or content to be a part of the problem in this world? This is how I measure my children’s success as people.
I admit that occasionally I brag about my children, and feel happiness at their outward successes. I am not in the least bit deluded enough to believe that I am responsible for those successes, though. To be honest, I celebrate that they have been able to succeed in any manner in spite of their upbringing. My kids did not have it easy at all.
Looking back, I feel that I would do some things the same way again; but, there are many, many other choices in parenting that I would make differently.
This is the beginning of a series. It is going to be one part confession and one part advice. Much of the difficulty I faced as an adult was out of my control. That was due to lifestyle choices, though. Those choices were very much affected by how I was raised and the choices my parents made.
Women especially must evaluate lifestyle choices honestly as those choices do affect their children down the line. Working moms, stay-at-home moms, soccer moms, creative moms, crunchy moms — a woman’s choice of lifestyle does affect her children.
There is no perfect parenting style. Yes, I said it. Attachment parenting is not the solution to the world’s problems. Permissive parenting isn’t the answer, either. Crunchy parenting won’t fix the woes of society. Giving your children everything they want and providing every possible opportunity isn’t going to ensure successful adult children.
One of the worst feelings in the world is knowing that your children resent you. You cannot prevent this resentment. All children go through the resentment stage. Most hold on to some resentment their entire lives no matter what you do. Think about this.
Don’t you have certain resentments toward your parent(s)? We all do. If only my mom had . . . If only my dad had . . .
If your parenting revolves around attempting to ward off future resentment — and it feels awful to be judged by your children — then you will fail as a parent.
So my first piece of advice for parents is this: be true to yourself.
I will elaborate on this in my next post in this series. I have a lot to say about many of my choices when I was a young adult. Because I am a woman, most of my experiences will resonate with other women. Men who care to understand what goes on in a woman’s mind could glean something as well, especially if you are raising a daughter.