What Kind of Parent am I?
I don’t know about you, but before I became a parent, heck before I even got pregnant, I thought I at least had the “big stuff” figured out. I by no means thought I knew everything, I’ve worked with kids long enough to know that’s never possible, but I did think I knew where I stood on many things including my parenting style…. now…. My world has shifted and what I thought was normal and “right” just doesn’t anymore…
SO WHAT IS MY PARENTING STYLE?!
Or maybe there’s a better question, what kind of parent do I want to be? In the teaching world we have a method of lesson planning called Backwards by Design and essentially it asks teachers to think what the end result should be before planning the day to day. We must know what we want the end result to be before being able to decide how we get there. And that couldn’t be anymore true than it is with parenting. So what do I want the end result of my parenting to be?
We must know what we want the end result to be before being able to decide how we get there.
So what do i want the end result of my parenting to be? Basically, WHO do I want my son to be when he grows up? And not what career I want him to have or anything, but what kind of person I want him to be.
1. How do I want my child to treat people and other living things?
This seems to obvious on the surface, but if I really break it down it could get quite long. I mean I want him to show others respect, but what does that look like? Is it outright obedience, is it being nice even when they’re mean, is it helping others? What does it look like in the nitty gritty, every day contexts?
What this looks like for my parenting…
For me… I’m thinking I want him to think to ask others before touching them. I want him to pick up after himself so others don’t have to do it for him.He should respect authority by doing what he needs to do even if it’s not something he would choose to do, but not if it’s morally wrong. He should have the confidence to then be able to address his concerns politely yet confidently and work towards change. I want him to respect those around him by being careful of the language he uses, the tone of his voice, and the level of his voice. He should give up seat on the MTR (public transportation), or any public arena, to the elderly, to the crippled, the tired mothers and well anyone who seems to need it. I want him to be gentle to animals and even plants. He will have a deep respect for life and not just kill critters as a first thought and definitely not for fun- aka let’s not try and kill ants with sun-rays from magnifying glasses (well except cockroaches and mosquitoes, those are the devil’s demons on earth and they all just need to die a million deaths!). I want him to help those less fortunate than himself without ever looking down on them for being in that position. I’m sure there’s way more, but it will come with time and experiences.
Obviously you can’t control the future or your child to ensure this happens, but you can change yourself, the way you deal with problems, and how you interact with your kids to set them up for a better future.
2. How do I want my child approaching and dealing with problems?
Pretty self explanatory, but when a difficulty in life comes their way, how do you want your child to push through and solve the problem? Some examples may be:
- What if they don’t have the money to fix something?
- What if someone lies about them and gets them in trouble?
- What if they don’t know how to do something like fix a sink or change a tire?
- What if they had a really good idea and no one listened to it? Or worse, someone stole the idea?!
- What if someone steals something from them?
Oh this is a big one because this is probably where his dad and I struggle the most. I really don’t want him handling some of these issues the way his dad or I do sometimes because I know it’s not helpful. So how DO I want him to handle it? I’m sure even this answer will change over time to fit the age and maturity level he’s at, but I think in the end I would want him handling any issue this way…
- Identify the problem and if there is a clear, logical?, solution.
- Pray about it. I want him to seek God in all things.
- If needed, research various opinions/ studies to make a well informed decision
- If needed, Talk it through with a trusted friend/ mentor (maybe even me?!)
- If needed, like in the case of theft, seek out authority figures and “file” a complaint.
Ok so it’s a little harder to pin down one “formula” for so many varied incidences, but I think that about sums it up as best as I can!
3. What are the most important lifeskills my child needs?
So what does he need to know in order to be a productive member of society? And maybe even more important to his future wife one day, what does he need to know in order to be a good husband/ dad and to live on his own? So this will by no means be an exhaustive list as I’m sure there’s some things I’ll forget, but for now I’m thinking he should know:
- How to wash, dry, fold, and put away laundry.
- How to do dishes… by HAND! (mainly because I’ve yet to really live in a house with a working dishwasher…)
- How to change the oil in a car. (ok so this one is specific to if we’re living in a country where this is feasible.)
- How to change a tire on a car/ bike.
- How to sweep, vacuum, mop, dust…. basically clean the house. I don’t expect perfection, but a generic tidiness.
- How to build a fire.
- How to mow the lawn. (see the note about changing the oil…. we don’t even have a lawn here)
- How to properly take care of a baby.
- How to take care of pets.
- How to budget. (I’d say also do taxes, but again, live in a foreign country, not sure what that will look like for him in 18 years)
- How to use creative problem solving. (ambiguous, I know, but so important!)
- How to use various tools (obviously things like wrenches and screws, but also saws and all. My husband is a carpenter so it’s very important to him).
- How to change a fuse in the fuse box.
I think that’s a good start lol. And most of these I’ll have to revisit through the years, but I can build an environment that encourages exposure at the very least now.
4. How do I want my child to feel about himself?
I think as parents we all want our kids to feel good about themselves and see how amazing they are, especially to us, but what specifically do I want my son to value in himself? What do I want to promote, encourage, and even compliment him on? By pinpointing these traits out now, it’ll be easier later to give authentic compliments later. It’s so easy to just say “You’re so smart” or “You’re so pretty”, but it doesn’t give any constructive encouragement so that they can continue to do whatever it was that was worth complimenting.
At this point I’ve pray about these things every night when putting my son to bed. We say our normal prayer (Now I lay me down to sleep…. ) and then I add on what I want for him at the end. In no particular order I pray that: he is wise, kind, confident, joyful, calm of mind and spirit, slow to anger, adventurous, that he knows love, that he brings joy to all who know him, that he seeks God with his whole being, and knows His plan for his life. In addition I want to focus on his problem solving skills, his out-of-the-box thinking, his creativity, and his risk-taking.
I know eventually there will come a time that no matter how beautiful “on the inside” they are, they’ll want to be beautiful on the outside too.
I also want him to feel that he is beautiful; to me, to others, and to God, and to know exactly what his best features are. I know there is a lot of current thought on not “focusing” on looks, but we all know eventually our kids will be teens that focus on their looks (if we’re lucky to make it to the teen years) and I want to give him something concrete to find beautiful in himself when the time comes. Not because I want a vain child or an adult that puts all their worth in their looks, but because I know eventually there will come a time that no matter how beautiful “on the inside” they are, they’ll want to be beautiful on the outside too.
5. What generational struggles have our families dealt with that I need to address?
My mom calls them “generational curses”, and honestly, they feel like exactly that… a curse. These struggles are things that our families have dealt with for a while, and I’d even open it up to personal struggles as well. What are some things you want to end with you and not see your child deal with? Obviously you can’t control the future or your child to ensure this happens, but you can change yourself, the way you deal with problems, and how you interact with your kids to set them up for a better future. You can even have age appropriate, open and frank conversations about what you hope will change for their future and why.
Here are some that I need to focus on:
- Bad relationships with food. (Tackling this to start with baby led weaning)
- Inability to express how we feel.
- Self-deprecating speech
- Sensory overload or other sensory issues (hence why I try to allow my son to get into things I find disgusting, but I know won’t actually hurt him)
What do you do once you’ve done all this?!
Now you make a plan and you put that plan in action every day. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure on the plan yet, and I’m sure it will change every day, but I’ll be working through it on here so you can follow along and hopefully avoid similar pitfalls. I will continue to read and learn myself so I can try and reach all these goals.
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