Written by Rosemary Strembicki
I think it's time for some discussion.
We've been talking a lot about what it takes to be a "good" parent and how to know if you've done it right. We've met parents who are so intimidated by all of the information out there that they parent in fear of doing something wrong. Instead of relishing every challenge as an opportunity to learn and make decisions, they question themselves and look for the definitive answer that will make everything OK.
Sad to say, there's no prescription for raising children. Even worse, there are no perfect parents and no perfect children. We're all human, with our own set of gifts and shortcomings. Is it just by chance that you're a fairly well-adjusted adult? Was it the luck of the draw that you have a happy life, or were you unlucky in what life has had to offer you? Was it how you were parented or the choices you made for yourself? It's probably all of the above.
I've been one of the lucky ones. I was raised in a large, close extended family. My siblings, one sister and two brothers, and I have been successful by societal standards. We've been happily married (for the most part) to one partner and have pretty well-adjusted kids, although it wasn't always easy getting them there. When we spend time together we often ask ourselves, "Why are we so lucky?"
We all have very happy memories of our childhood. Was it the feeling of security, the frequent family gatherings and the many available adults to check in with when our parents weren't available? Was it the structure, the strong sense of right and wrong and the understanding that there are consequences to actions? Did our parents intentionally raise us with an understanding of what they were doing, or did it just come naturally? We haven't really found the answers but we've speculated a lot.
From my perspective, I think it was the feeling that no matter what we did, we would always have a place in the family. We watched various relatives meet challenges, make mistakes and sometimes really mess up, but the family always stood behind them, accepted them for whom they were and let them know that their actions were a disappointment. In fact, my biggest fear growing up was disappointing my parents. Maybe that's the key, building a respectful relationship with our children and letting them know that they're unconditionally loved.
Jan and I believe that we all have what it takes to be a good parent if we take the time to consider how we want to parent. We need to find the answers within ourselves first and then decide which tools to use from the wealth of information the "experts" have to offer. As parents, we are the experts when it comes to making choices for our children and ourselves as long as we understand why we're making those choices and keep our children's best interests at heart.
What do you think? Let's have a conversation.
You can contact Rosemary at http://www.aplacetoturnto.org
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