Friday, July 08, 2005

Pivotal Parenting Point

For this month's Blogging for Books, write about a pivotal point in your life as a parent, OR write about a pivotal point in your relationship with one of your parents.
For me, my pivotal moment came as a parent. I always knew, growing up, that my parents cared. They went out of their way every day to make sure my sister and I knew. They did as much as they could to support us in whatever we decided we wanted to do. I was in competitive gymnastics for 12 years. They hauled me around to meets, paid my doctor bills, made sure I had great coaches, etc. My sister wanted to go in to the military ROTC program in high school. When she found a wall that prevented it, they helped her try to fight back.

I always swore that when I had kids, I would go out of my way to do the same for my kids. My husband and I agreed before we were even married that one of us would be home for them. If it just so happened that I made more money than he, he'd be a stay at home dad. As it worked out (not too surprisingly) he made more than I; however, primarily because he was out of college 3 years before I. Thus giving him the head start that I couldn't make up.

I have to admit, my kids are polite. For a 6 year old boy and a 4 year old girl, they say their thank yous with little prompting, use their pleases when asking for things and in general behave well. Now, don't get me wrong, they have their moments. They can be little terrors (and often are) when it's just me. So, while I know that they're good kids, because I'm so close I don't always NOTICE that they're good kids.

The pivotal point for me was not instantaneous, no light bulb went on and no bells started ringing. It started when the neighborhood kids began showing up here at my house. I have a set of rules that my kids follow around the house. They know to follow them and usually do. The kids that came in didn't know my rules, didn't ask about my rules, and when I pointed them out ignored them anyway. It really drove me nuts. At least one of the kids doesn't enjoy coming as often because I actually enforce my rules.

So I started paying attention to everything that was going on around the house and with all the kids. As my kids became more "popular", they were being invited over to play at other homes. I never had to remind my kids to "mind their manners". We had an understanding that if they didn't, they may not be invited back over.

What I started to see, though, was that the other kids had manners when they wanted to, but rarely when the parents wanted. It seemed the parents had no control over their kids. They wanted to be their child's friend first and parent second. These parents loved having my kids over to play. When the other parents told me how polite they were, how nice to have over, how they wished their kids would be that way, and so on I realized the difference between us. I'm a parent first and foremost. I love my kids dearly and hope to have them as my friends as I grow old, but it's as a parent that I have the responsibility and power to protect my kids.

Why is it pivotal? Because that was when I realized I wasn't so bad a parent after all. I may not be the best mom, but I've got the best kids I could have.

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