To be or not to be….or the chicken and the egg question comes to mind, doesn’t it?
Since my son Jason has turned 20 yesterday, I have reflected upon the past 20 years of parenthood and the experiences I have accumulated over the years…
His first smile, first word, first step, first birthday, first day at kindergarten, first day at school etc. So many pressures memories, almost unbelievable how fast the time has passed!
I also noticed how many other parents I have encountered; during pre-birth classes, at nursery, kindergarten, school and hobby groups, as well as my son’s friendship cycle. Many different approaches to parenting, many little lives influenced on how their parents conducted the ‘parenting game of life’.
I have learned that some focus their approach around the child, value the little person as a unique individual who cannot conform to ‘norms’, but rather allow them to flourish and explore the world, while the parent (s) organise their lives based on their child’s needs and wants.
Meanwhile, I have also met many parents who ‘add their child on’ to their life, life style and general way of approaching their day-to-day. By for example, continuing their life’s pretty much as prior to having had the child; they continue their work schedule and leisure time and manage their child’s day by delegating childcare either between each other and also towards family members or childcare providers, friends and other children entertaining activities. They continue to meet up with friends and when they go out as a family they base their choice on what they (the parent(s)) would like to do, not their child. Interestingly, those parents often wonder why their child ‘misbehaves’ e.g. can’t sit still in an adult centred restaurant and even doesn’t like the food served or during a show that they are not interested in.
In my opinion, there is no ‘right or wrong’ type of parenting, as each child is so different, even within the same family. My three children are entirely different and truly need and want very different approaches, not just based on their age, but also based on their individual interests and personal preferences.
However, I do think that parents need to pause and reflect on a regular basis, to spot issues asap, to avoid taking a route that is damaging for the child or even for themselves.
I have met mums who constantly hover over their kids, completely lose their sense of self and practically live solely to please their children. Or mums and dads who feel burdened when they ‘should or have to’ spend extended times with their kids, buy as many toys as they can and yet still find little to no connection, while those children have no interest in their countless toys and are constantly bored. Both are unhealthy in my opinion, as both will lead to heart ache in the long run, for all involved.
In my parenting, I have always tried to balance between the two and learned that this approach is best, not just for my eldest, but also for my younger two girls. For example, when we want to eat somewhere together, we choose a buffet (most often Chinese) or simply McD’s (although their veggie menu is limited), as the first offers the option to choose food everyone likes and the second that the children (almost) cannot ‘misbehave’ (be a child, move around and not noise restricted), as it clearly is a child centred food outlet (balloons, crayons and paper and toys included). Another example is that while I drive and drop my kids to their hobby sessions (ballet, judo etc.), I either take a book with me and read while they enjoy their sessions, chat with another mum while drinking a nice cup of coffee or listen to an audiobook. I use these pockets of time to also enjoy the time, so that I don’t feel that I am ‘just the Taxi’.
I do have to admit though, that if I had to honestly evaluate which side I am on, I would consider my parenting approach to be child centered, and I guess that has come from learning experiences of the past 20 years; If you try to enjoy an adult type activity, don’t force a child to enjoy it and vice versa. Although, I do actually enjoy many child centered activities, e.g Disney and Co.
I had my son very early in my life, so I guess that is another reason why I enjoy the child centered approach, as I was so young I had not yet established a ‘me first’ e.g. ‘selfish way of life style’ that may have led me to feel ‘disturbed’ by my child’s needs and wants. Instead, as I wanted to traveled the world, for example, I chose places and hotels etc. which would entertain both of us. In addition, as I had my second child 5 years later and then my third another 6 years later, the child centered approach made even more sense, the bigger the family became. Which led to many decisions, including to homeschool, to start my business six years ago, working from home serving customers around the world and writing business and children books.
I would love to read your thoughts on this! Have you found a parenting approach that works well? If so, please share it in the comment section below. Thanks 😉
All the Best,
P.S.: Enjoy every second of being a parent!