“What do you want for your child?”
This article is my experience, written in hindsight, of how we raised two baby boys into two fit healthy happy young men. Seeing the bigger picture may provide some insight into the many challenges of parenting…. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
My personal parenting milestone was 5 years, ready for school. We didn’t immunise our children, so from baby to 5 years I was extremely protective in offering only healthy whole foods to living a healthy lifestyle that ultimately provided a robust immune system as they matured naturally. Upon reaching 5 years without any major illness or need of constant antibiotics was extremely positive. This cohort (0-5) is where the parenting style can be very specific in a controlled environment.
The second milestone was to get my kids through teenage-hood without any negative hiccups. This age group is highly sensitive to all influences having many societal and school pressures, especially in achieving high levels of academia. Fortunately, I was blessed to have pushed through this milestone without any major incidence. Emotionally I had my fair share of worry; alcohol, parties, risky behaviour, driving cars, motorbikes and peers who may lead them astray. Parenting control at this age was progressively loosened but required some boundaries.
Our parenting skills grow as we evolve through every new experience.
My third milestone is seeing my kids reach 21. So much can happen in the 18 to 21 age bracket. They are more confident, now testing their full-independence. As parents we have started taking a back seat, minimal parenting control. Let’s hope we have taught them (leading by example) the fundamentals of what it takes to have a healthy happy thriving lifestyle.
Trying to control outcomes (from a parental perspective) is a fine line, some kids need more structure and guidance where others need a looser reign or they will rebel against severe restrictions. It is individual with every child. I had a vision recently of a tight grip on a gecko (who didn’t enjoy the grip), I loosened the grip and the gecko instantly became happy and relieved.
The following few paragraphs highlight specific situations from my experience that may resonate to your personal parenting journey.
Any questions, please email me direct [email@example.com]
5 to 12 years – “To be happy in his skin”
My son’s first teacher had only one question to ask me on his first day, “What do you want for your child?” I had to think quickly on the spot, as I was not expecting such a deep question, my reply, “To be happy in his skin”. This statement has resonated with me for sixteen years and gets stronger every time I think of it. I didn’t enjoy school life as a parent, I came up against so many difficult situations that challenged me personally. One son needed a specific style of learning and the other had me in the principals office too often.
Schooling in England – “Kids can be adaptable but parents may fret about the smallest of changes”
We had the opportunity to live overseas for two years when our sons were in late primary school. We wanted our children to have a broader view and experience of humanity by understanding the vast multi-cultural world we live in. Within their first week of school they both had best friends to buddy with and seemed happy with making new friends. They were welcomed into the school’s community, a positive experience.
Home Schooling or Not – “Two sons with two very different desires and personalities”
We moved to France for our final four months living overseas. I was planning to home-school both of my sons. After the first week of home schooling, my ten year old requested he go to the local French school in our village. After a little arrangement to get permission from the Town Mayor and Head Mistress he started school with no French language. That was a brave move through adult eyes. He was buddied up with an English speaking boy to translate for him, they became best friends. Of the three primary schools he went to, he tells me now that his French schooling was his favourite time. He learnt so much about the French culture and fondly reminisces about going back for a holiday.
My twelve year old enjoyed my version of home schooling. He enjoyed drawing, researching topics of interest, cooking, walking adventures with a neighbour’s dog and watching English History for school TV shows. He didn’t like mainstream maths but enjoyed using the euro currency for daily shopping trips to the bakery or grocery store by himself. It was a lovely time I will cherish, having spent one on one time with him, exploring the French village together.
12 to 17 years – “Step back and allow with gentle guidance, rather than control”
In Grades 8 to 9 they had a variety of subject experiences and choices. We encouraged them to choose fun subjects with a gentle nudge towards their own career idea. By grade 10 they played the school system and started dropping or changing subjects selecting the easiest path (and best teachers) to complete their final years. It felt disappointing at the time from a parent’s perspective. Personally grade 10 could have been their final year but the social pull to stay and be seniors, the prestige of the formal and schoolies on the Gold Coast were the many draw cards to stay on completing grade 12, leaving school at 17. Three to four years later, they are still happy with their life choices.
The Parent Radar – “One on one man-hood holiday”
My husband worked overseas as a fly in fly out worker. It was evident that my boys were developing into young men (14-15yrs) that needed male-guidance. I suggested a week’s holiday for father and son to enjoy some man-hood quality time. My parenting radar sensed that my youngest son should go first with his dad. They went on a ski-snowboarding trip to New Zealand. The following year my eldest son went on his man-hood holiday with his dad to New Zealand. Giving your child a one-on-one holiday with a parent sends many positive messages to that child. It empowers their self-esteem and confidence that they are worthy and loved very much.
*The second child of a family is often the one that is the most sensitive needing to be heard or validated with TLC (tender loving care). The oldest is happy to be the leader, the youngest is happy to be spoilt or taken care of by his/her elder siblings. From observing patterns the second child is most likely to have allergies, intolerances, asthma and eczema. From a naturopath view this just confirms how sensitive our second children are both emotionally and physically.
Independence – “Release with a safety net”
My children left school with specific exciting careers in mind. As a parent we thought it was all sown up. No, they wanted to enjoy their youth and have fun with their new found independence after a long school life. I learnt very quickly to allow autonomy because it made them happy. Life experience was more of what they wanted after leaving school. As a parent we may feel this is a mistake not going straight into a specific career or study mode but that belief is from an old adult perspective, engrained from our own life experiences of maybe missed opportunities for ourselves. This is their life journey (not ours). We can then become their safety net (light bearer) when the kids bounce back into our arms. You may feel this is being ‘soft’ but we are living in unusual times that call for creative measures. Supporting our young people in COVID times is critical to their wellbeing. I’m grateful to have them home with us now in 2020, being available to comfort any fears as they arise. Watching them from our respectful distance 🙂
Young adults at home – “New rules for new times”
At 16 years they started washing their own clothes. Life lesson; can use a washing machine and iron. At 17 years they plan, buy, cook one meal a week each. Life lesson; can cook from scratch whole foods, yay. At 18-19 they flew the nest for work and bounced back. Life lesson; know how good home is. At 20-21 they pay rent at home, work full time, have good friendships and are loving life…… ”happy in their skin” now decorating their skin with meaningful tatoos.
Parent time – “Step back and re-new self”
Now is the time to renew yourself. Are you happy? Do you need a new job or take up a new hobby? Re-kindle your relationship with a partner or find a new one? Show your children how to live well by your actions of self-love and self-care.
We have a very important job of raising healthy happy adults, our future community leaders.
Any concerns? motherhood mentoring; email. firstname.lastname@example.org