It was Grandparent’s Day a few days ago. My son absolutely adores his grandparents. We live near both my parents’ houses and the proximity has made it easy for my son to connect with his maternal grandparents. On the few occasions when my businesses would require me to go somewhere I can’t bring my son along (and my husband can’t get off work), my mom would always watch him. When I have a ton of work to do at home, my dad would come over and play with him to keep him occupied.
Watching either of my parents with my son, I almost always have this wishful feeling–wishing that I could have experienced how they are with my son when I was a child. I guess that’s one of the perks of grandparents though. They can always be a good cop and spoil the grandkids in so many ways that a parent cannot.
This recent unofficial holiday for the grandparents got me thinking though about parenting and my own childhood. I started thinking about what things I learned from my childhood, about the way my parents raised me and which ones I wanted to and didn’t want to pass on to parenting my son.
Kids should remain kids.
I did not have an easy childhood. When I was my son’s age, my parents split for the first time for about a year. They got back together and then separated again when I was in high school.
I have always been a pretty serious child I think, at least to my memory. I wasn’t a fan of outside play too much but I did enjoy playing with my cousins and friends from school. Books were my first friends. My room was my sanctuary and a haven for me to dream. It was a place for me to create stories and play with my dolls. I loved board games and puzzles. This separation though forced me to grow up earlier than I should. I remember vividly being asked by my paternal grandfather if I wanted to stay with my mom or my dad. I think I stopped being a child that day however much I pretended I was still one later on.
This is probably the main thing that I learned from my childhood that I want to do differently. I am hoping to keep my child a child for as long as possible. I want him to fly and soar without a chip on his shoulder. He should enjoy being a kid and have no worries. His only job is to play, learn, explore and have fun. Children should remain as children.
It is never too early to communicate with our kids.
As a parent, I understand now that my parents are only human. When you’re a kid you think your parents are infallible and when they do make mistakes, you often think it’s your fault. It took me a while to accept and understand this– that my parents had their shortcomings and their own problems none of which probably had anything to do with me.
It had its pros and cons but my mom was always honest with me with what’s going on in our family. I understood what was happening because my mom took the time to explain things and talk to me.
As a mom who is with her kid almost 24/7, there’s not much I can hide from my son. He sees me at my worst and at my best. I work on myself every day to give him a mom he can be proud of. We often talk at least as much as a preschooler will listen.
My son is a very mature kid. He is also a sensitive one. To be able to “get” my kid is a blessing. I’m not sure if it’s always the case or if it will always be so but I fully understand him even when he is still figuring things out. That my friends though, is where it can get tricky. I am extra careful not to get ahead and provide what my son needs before he figures it out for himself. I am continuously working on this as I think all mommas are.
Let them fail.
I have always been an achiever. I think even if my parents didn’t encourage me to work hard in school, I would still probably do it. In retrospect though, I equated awards during my early years with happy days and celebrations. Part of me worked for awards to get attention. I wanted my parents to be happy and proud. Back in the 90s, academics was this big thing. In so many ways, it was the measure of being a “good” kid.
I know better now though. Again, learned over a couple of decades of experience. My son, it turns out, is also an achiever. Things change but for now, he seems to be one. For an achiever to be raised by another achiever is scary. There could be so much pressure put on a child. No one wants their child to fail yet it is only with failure can we learn. I want my child to have grit. I’m not quite sure how best to teach him that at this point except to allow him to fail and be there to catch him when he does.
I have had so many failures in life. There were so many bad choices. A lot of circumstances that I probably could have avoided. I was allowed to fail. I am better now because of it and my parents still accept me as their child even at this age. They are still here for me and my own child. It would probably be one of the hardest things for a parent to do but they let me go and make my own mistakes. My parents allowed me to fail but helped me pick myself back up without judgment.
Children are resilient.
Parents are human beings. We are all works in progress. Children are resilient. Give yourself grace momma (and dad). We are all trying our best for our kids– however old they get.