It’s always interesting to me to hear about and see different parenting styles. What I have learned in my nearly 7 years of parenting is that we really are all just winging it. We’re doing the best we know how with the circumstances we have and that just looks different for everyone. I do feel like for most of us, our parenting is influenced by our own childhood, for good or bad. A lot of us take things our parents did and either try to replicate them or never repeat them.
I had a great childhood and one that I am increasingly thankful for as I parent my own kids. There are more than a few things I find myself doing that are a direct result of things my parents did, but here are some of the most influential.
1. Fostering Sibling Relationships
My siblings and I are quite spread out, with a 15-year span between the 4 of us. Regardless of our ages, my parents always worked hard to establish a bond in our family that we still have to this day. I want this for my own kids and I started from a very young age saying things like “Sisters help each other” and “We take care of each other.” As they are getting older, I am always looking for opportunities to help foster their relationships with each other. My hope and is that as they grow they continue building their relationship, I want them to stick up for each other, help each other, and enjoy being together.
My parents always trusted me. It was something I really appreciated and, looking back, value even more knowing how nerve-wracking it probably was putting their trust in a teenager. I was a good kid and didn’t get into too much trouble and because of that, they honestly had no reason to not trust me. They never assumed I would do bad and always assumed I would make the right choice. I knew their expectations of me and they were never super strict just for the sake of being strict. I want to give my kids the same sort of freedom. I want them to know what I expect and what their boundaries are, but I also want to give them room to make mistakes and learn lessons on their own. I want them to learn how to navigate the world around them while still holding onto their values and the expectations we have helped establish.
3. High Expectations
I felt a very clear sense growing up about what expectations were placed on me. I had expectations for my behavior and character as well as work ethic and academics. Now, these were not crazy expectations like make your kid so stressed they are at a breaking point. I was expected to work hard and do my best, not settle for mediocre. If I was capable of getting the A, then I should work to get it and not settle for a C because it was less work. If my best was a C, though, then that was fine, too. I was expected to have a job when I turned 16 and pay for my own gas in my car. My parents graciously provided me with a car and insurance, but I then had certain expectations to hold up on my end. I want to help my kids achieve their highest potential. I want them to put in the work to accomplish their goals. There are certain levels of behavior I expect and they know it. I never want them to take the easy way out or give up on something just because it is hard or the unpopular choice among their friends.
We all make mistakes in this journey of parenthood. I hope that I can glean from the wisdom of my parents and others in my life to be the best parent I can for my kids. At the end of the day, I know that I am doing the best I know how to do and that my friends, is always enough.