What's the Difference?
Do you admire your child’s differences?
No- not the differences between them and their siblings or their peers, but the differences between them and you….
Do you relish the fact that your child stops to smell the roses or takes on tasks one section at a time? Do you appreciate that he/she questions authority and has bold opinions? Do you revel in the way he/she tackles a project or eats his/her Oreo’s? Or does it drive you insane?
Don't let it get to you...because you ought to respect the differences.
We are not raising clones and we aren’t creating mini-me’s. No matter how hard we try, our kids are not going to be carbon copies of us.
I agree we want to create strong, smart, healthy adults and help them avoid making the mistakes we made, but one of our most important jobs as parents is to also nurture our children, embrace their differences and support their individuality.
Ideally, we should realize before heading into parenting, but worst case, we do not, and then suddenly notice we are totally controlling (or a little too strong in our ‘guiding’), we just need to take it down a notch and maybe take a detour from the ‘One Way Street’ approach.
Maybe we like the way we fold towels but our kids don’t do it the same way. We prefer the way we sweep the floor and they just can’t seem to do it ‘right’. We hang our shirts and they like to stuff them in their drawer.
They are differences for sure but are any of these valid reasons to tell them that they are doing it all wrong just because they don’t do it like we do?
There are right ways to brush your teeth, drive a car, walk a dog, and behave in public….but when it comes to the towels, their shirts and sweeping the floor, does it really matter?
Sometimes as parents we are so used to being in control and in charge, and we're so used to being the ruler, that when kids become an age where they’re old enough to do things ‘their’ way, we can sometimes have a tendency to tell them that their way is the wrong way. (And wanting to do things the 'wrong' way starts early.)
From the time children are babies they are fighting for their independence and individualism.
They want to suck on the book, not read it. They want to throw the ball, not hold it. They want to wear clothes that don’t quite match and they don’t want to eat with a fork; because they want to be themselves.
My philosophy is this: ‘when it matters, it matters and that’s when it’s worth fighting for’.
To eat veggies at dinner? No question.
To wear a coat? Check the weather and see what you think.
To study? 100%.
To dress appropriately? Absolutely.
To wear your sneakers or rain boots? It’s up to you.
I’m a parent. Not a drill sergeant. My offspring are people, not robots.
Pick your battles and let them pick their own. Kids really need to make some of their own choices; otherwise they don’t learn cause and effect in real life situations which is imperative for maturity. People learn by thinking first and then based upon what they ‘thought’, they end up doing. They also learn by making mistakes. (I know, I hate it too…but it’s the truth.)
If we never give our kids the opportunity to assert themselves and gain independence, how will they learn?
After years of telling me what to do, my father loosened up on some things and used to say this when I asked for permission to do things:
It’s your hair. You have to wear it. It’s your allowance. It’s up to you.
I always felt better when I got to have a say in my own life. (I’m willing to bet that we all do.)
Foster some independence and allow your kids some individuality and see what they do.
Show them that you ‘accept’ them for ‘them’. (Even if their tastes make you cringe, their elective isn’t what you’d like them to have or they decide to become a vegetarian.) They might be your child, but they are not 'you'.
I think I've found the balance with this. Most days my children get to make many of their own choices. And, as my teen learned recently, Mom still has the last word sometimes ....(and with good cause)....
She'd brought home National Junior Honor Society paperwork and told me that although she was invited to apply, but that she had absolutely no interest.
Yes. Thank you for your opinion but Mom vetoed that.
She's finished her essays and has handed in her application. She really didn't want to, but was okay with it, since she realized that nine times out of ten she gets to make her own choices. But, in this case Mom knew best.
Experiment with giving your children freedom to decide how to handle small problems, do tasks or determine their future.
Try adding my favorite phrase to the conversations: ‘What do you think?’
Relax, your kids are not as incapable as they're sometimes perceived to be...they often know the right answer; but just want to hear it from you to make sure they should go with their gut...
In the end, you are still the one with the last word, but you never know, they might teach you a thing or two - if you let them....