Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Raising our children, or living vicariously through them?"

It was never meant to be complicated. I believe that it was intended to be a fun, loving, gratifying experience where we all are intended to come out rewarded and unscathed; We parents, with a sense of triumphant completion and our children, polished, decent and productive members of society, with the foundation needed to endorse the experience of parenthood themselves when the time comes.

I believe and have always said that there is never a perfect time to have children; we can never be ready for the expected or unexpected experiences that come with bringing another being into the world. I’ve come to learn while looking around me, that it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor (although the latter would prove the experience to be more challenging), whether you’re single or in a relationship, what religion (if any) you adhere to, what disposition you’re in, nor what your outlook is when starting this journey… My belief is, at the end of the day, you have to be assured that you have accomplished all the selfish longings on your wish list, because from this point forward, it will NEVER again be about you!


As parents, even before our children are born, we have big dreams for them. Once we meet them, we work towards not dreaming anymore but making all of it reality for them… or maybe for us… Are we trying to guide them toward what’s best for them, or are we trying to accomplish what’s best for us? Are we making sure the choices we present to them are ones they would want, or only ones that we want? Do we forget that they have dreams for themselves? It’s a known fact that parents often hold the most responsibility for crushing their children dreams, as we get caught up in “knowing what’s best”.

We often live by the old adage “do as I say, not as I do”, and this is because we as parents “know better” and facilitate what’s best for our children… But, could it be simply because we have the years along with the experience under our belts? Is it because we wish we did things differently for ourselves, and we need to know the outcome of that “possibility” we did not reach for ourselves? What is that option we did not follow through on? What could have been, if those dreams we had for ourselves had become realities? Or maybe… it is that we actually know best…

Do we live for our kids or do we experience through our kids? Is there any wrong to either statement?

When my husband and I became parents, there was no manual guaranteeing success in parenting; the “do’s and don’ts” for “triumphant” child rearing. There were and still are plenty of books on how to raise a child and become the best parent, but nothing that will give you a step by step process to guarantee a successful outcome. Anyways, I was never interested in getting those types of books, as I always knew I wanted to be a mom when the time was right. I had unconditional love to give, which would ultimately help me do the best job with my child/children. I had great role models in my life, but above all, I also knew for a fact that I could never have a better partner to bring my unborn children in this world than my husband … if you ask him, he would insist that I was never a child; I, in turn, wonder if he would ever grow out of his child like nature… J

As you know from my previous posts, the hubby and I have 2 beautiful kids. Our son is 12 years old and our daughter is 9. I can safely say that I adore them. Since they came into my life there hasn’t been anyone or anything that has brought more joy, and they have truly completed me, my relationship with my husband and our lives. Baby years, toddler years and early school years were the easy years, where following our guts in what needed to be done for and with them was truly an easy process. We had tremendous love and through it all, they remain our number 1 priority. Now that they are entering the preteen years, I’m starting to wonder if my husband and I still have the same vision for our kids and their future… let me take that back… I do believe we have the same vision, however, a different approach to seeing it come to pass.

We imparted to our kids the importance of always being polite, nice, humble, cognisant of others’ feelings, tactful, and equal towards everyone. For my son who is the most agreeable person I’ve ever met, always worried about hurting anyone’s feeling or disappointing them, it was an easy process for him to embody all those characteristics. As far as my daughter... (big smile on my face as those who know her are probably laughing now), can I just say that, at 9 years old, she has not yet learned how to use her filter; sweetest princess out there, but for her there is no other way but to “tell it like it is”! Even though she exemplifies most of the qualities we taught them, tactfulness is not her forte! So, they can be well rounded socially and productive members of society. The other thing we instructed them in, is the importance of excelling academically. The method we used (which has proven successful for us, since they started kindergarten) is, during the school year weeks, no video games at all (and you all know how important that is today in these kids’ world), minimal TV, and all this is after ALL school work is done before their bed time. If their report cards come back with at least a “B” or above, the weekend is all theirs to do how they please.

Now this is where I’m having a chuckle… and a bit of a worry… When it comes to our kids extra curricular activities, I believe that my husband lives vicariously through our children!
My son at 12 is an upcoming DJ, has done many paying gigs,  but until this day I’m not convinced that  he told his father that’s what he wanted to do. I think he got swallowed up into the whole thing after seeing his dad’s own involvement. My husband will have him practice the same cut over and over and over again for hours and hours, while I can see our son fighting tears because he is tired and over it. My daughter just started basketball and none of you can imagine how proud and excited my husband became, when he found out his babygirl wanted to pursue the sport he likes the most… and I felt like, God help her! Last week we were at a scrimmage practice as the game had been cancelled, there was no other parents standing on the side line screaming “do this, do that, what are you doing?” I mean, he was louder than the coach (who in all fairness, is clueless) and when I told him he was confusing her, his response was “What do you think they do in the NBA?” truly…God help them!

I’d like to think that there is a difference between being supportive to your kids’ extra curricular activities and pushing them to be perfect. Being too demanding may just harvest the opposite reaction, and if they give up, whom else would we have to blame but ourselves. We reap what we sow. The pressure may just be too heavy to carry. I believe that we need to let them discover, learn, dream, try, fail, try again and be successful despite our support and with our support.

Children idolize their parents and to mimic them is the first form of flattery they learn, that in addition to the genetic heritage which is highlighted in how much they take after us. 
Let’s not lose sight that they are their own person with their own temperaments, traits and aspirations.
Being parents wasn’t meant to be complicated however in the last 12 years I learned that there is no way around the unknown of child rearing and its complexity. While we can use our own past to give us pointers, let’s make sure we keep the ability to recognize our children dreams; after all we are raising our children and not raising ourselves over again through them.

        Love always,

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