What Life Has Taught Me About Parenting.

in parenting •  last month 

Now my children are heading towards adulthood, I occasionally ponder whether I prepared them well enough for independence and as I learn about other's experiences and see children's reactions to other parenting styles I feel I've learnt a few lessons along the way.


A little neglect could actually make for a more responsible adult.

When we first become parents, what we know of parenting is what we learnt from those raising us and the way we choose to parent can also come from things we thought unfair as children. We might have felt left out because we weren't bought the latest in fashion like our classmates had, or we might have resented having to do chores. This could lead to us making sure our children have everything they want and not even teaching them how to do household chores, because we know how unhappy that might make them.

Each generation has had to do less and less and we now have generations of young adults who have to learn how to look after themselves after they leave home. They often don't know how to clean or cook and aren't very good at managing their finances.

I went through parenting with the philosophy that we raise our children to become less and less dependant upon us as they grow, but when my eldest was in situations where she had to deal with small issues by herself, she ended up with me having to rescue her and then tell her step by step how to deal with these things. Something I'd figured out myself at a younger age than her. So where had I gone wrong in raising my children to be independent, when I'd put effort into trying to make sure they would be, while my parents had pretty much left me to it from an earlier age?

That's when I realised that maybe a bit of neglect is actually a way to learn. Some things have to be figured out and not taught. When you are in a situation on your own and you can't reach your parents to help you through it, then you have no choice, but to figure it out. You'll likely make mistakes, but you'll learn from them. I have a friend with two adults sons. One lived with her after she split from their father and the other chose to go back to his father at 13, because he felt he needed him more than his mother did. He ended up in a situation where the parental roles reversed and he became the parental figure. That son is very responsible when it comes to finances, but the other, who got to be a child for longer, is not so great with finances and mum has had to stop bailing him out and leave him to try and figure out how to get out of problems of his own creation.

Helicopter parenting is actually a fairly new concept. It didn't exist in my childhood and I think we're starting to realise that it's not a good approach to creating and independent adult.

Your children don't always like what you do.

When I was little my sister got to go to ballet classes and I didn't. I always wanted to dance, but our situation changed and we couldn't afford it. So when I got the chance, I took my daughters to ballet classes and they both got to do that together, because I didn't want one let out. They enjoyed it, particularly my eldest, but it didn't become a passion for them. At one point I thought it might for my eldest, but the teens hit and she lost interest. It was sad to see her move on, but she had her own priorities and I was determined not to live vicariously through her just because I didn't get the chance to dance myself.

There was a woman I knew who did Australian calisthenics when she was young and loved it, but apparently wasn’t very good at it. She got her daughters doing it and her eldest was of a similar talent level to her, but her youngest was much more flexible and became good enough to represent her state at nationals. Everything ended up focusing on the youngest daughter as she was pushed to do all hours of training that mum could wrangle. She was obsessed with living vicariously through her daughter and jealous of any who she felt might be competition for her. She was my example of how I didn't want to be with my own daughters, who both ended up doing gymnastics in the end.

Just because someone is good at something it doesn't mean they'll want to do it.

When my husband was young his father sent him to boxing training. It was something that he was interested in, but not his son. He was rather good at boxing, but he would rather have gone to scouts. He could have become professional, but by the time he was old enough to, he was also old enough to defy his father, so naturally, it wasn't the career path he chose.

Recently we had some high achiever awards after strength testing for our gymnastics club. A few people commented on the fact that the majority of award winners were junior girls and only a handful of those in level 4-6 achieved this award, with none in level 7-10 achieving it. When I thought about it, I realised that this has always been the case. Those younger gymnasts who show so much potential early on, have usually quit by the time they reach level 6. Currently our best gymnast, who brought back a gold medal from nationals this year, never used to win awards in her early days.

Which brings me to another lesson and that is that sometimes those who aren't naturally talented go further than those who are, because if you are really passionate about something you're going to put in more effort to improve at it. Most of our senior level gymnasts are there because they've worked hard to get there despite not being high achievers and naturally talented. Sometimes those with natural talent get lazy, because they're so used to everything coming easy and there always comes a point where you need to work at even those things you have a natural talent for.

Everyone learns different things from the same event.

This is probably an obvious one, really. Why is it that some who are bullied, go on to bully those weaker than themselves, while others become highly compassionate people who choose to help those weaker than themselves? Probably because we take different things away from the same experience. So when you want to teach something to your children, you may well have to make the lesson different for each child. A ‘one size fits all’ education will not yield the same result for everyone.


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I'm not a parent - but I am a mentor.

Tailoring to the student but also the era is important - I'm a firm believer no set teaching method works for all; not only is every individual complex and different, the things I was taught by my mentors no longer apply as the world has changed due to the many disruptions.

For instance when I was young I was told to go to the shop to get a lolly and given 5 cents. IF I was lucky I would find a glass bottle on the way and just turned that 5 cents into 15 cents worth of mixed lols... Then I'd physically hand something over and get something in return.

Today kids see their parents swipe a card and don't even handle cash at all - just lols magically appear not handing over anything.

-If I had kids I couldn't send them to the shop with a bottle to learn the value of money, but I sure ain't going to give them a credit card that they might demand!..I would need to find a different way to teach the lesson.

Tailoring mentoring/parenting techniques to the individual and the times to teach the right underlining lesson is more important then method -- I'm a firm believer in teaching values and equipping people to be adaptable, resilient and largely experiment themselves with kind direction - where the risk is low, even allow them to fail :)

Times certainly have changed. Not having that physical representative of money makes it so much harder to not over spend, too. Then when it's a credit card then I guess its even easier to justify adding just a little bit more to the debt. We're moving into a world of virtual when many are physical learners who can struggle to convert the idea into reality.

We have dangerous roads with fast moving cars and no longer live in communities where we know everyone, so we fear harm coming to our children from unknown people. A certain amount of helicopter parenting is needed in a world like that.

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Well, every child has his/her own way of learning and at different age.

On the other hand, you can never teach your children everything. They have to go out there and learn it the hard way.

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On the other hand, you can never teach your children everything. They have to go out there and learn it the hard way.

Absolutely and some more than others! There are some who can see others making mistakes and learn from it, but others will never learn until they make the mistakes themselves. It's hard to see your children making mistakes, but sometimes you have to let them.

every child has his/her own way of learning and at different age.

Very true. Which is why it can be so harmful when school systems expect every child to have reached the same milestones at the same age. A late learner in a certain area doesn't mean they'll not excel at it later, they just blossomed when they were ready.

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I have assumed this parental role for a long time now although I don't have kids. I have four siblings (one is kate now) and I have had to raise them with my mum. It's really difficult for me because I never had any guidance as a child. I mostly figured things out myself and that's the way I approach parenting, which really sucks. I think I would fail as a parent.

I think most parents see their kids as an opportunity to make up for their mistakes and past failures. I had a cousin who lived with us for a long time. My mum was always hard on her because of boys--she liked them a lot. And it seemed quite personal because in my mum eyes she didn't want to see her repeat her own mistake which was getting pregnant at a young age. I hopefully would want my kids to be high performs in class and intellectually sound because I actually failed in these areas.

About talent and passion. I believe passionate people usually outshine talented people. They make up for what they lack in talent with hard work and commitment. It is easy to take for granted your talent.

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You are now a strong man. Having ganered these knowledge and experiences at that age, I don't think you will fail when raising your own children.

For your last paragraph, talent alone is never enough to be successful.

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Thanks for your comment. I appreciate.

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I think most parents see their kids as an opportunity to make up for their mistakes and past failures. I had a cousin who lived with us for a long time. My mum was always hard on her because of boys--she liked them a lot. And it seemed quite personal because in my mum eyes she didn't want to see her repeat her own mistake which was getting pregnant at a young age. I hopefully would want my kids to be high performs in class and intellectually sound because I actually failed in these areas.

I guess wee want to teach them the lessons we learnt so that they can at least get one mistake behind them. Yet where we feel we failed as children, they may not see it as a failure and see something else as failure instead.

My grandmother got pregnant from an American soldier shortly after the war, so her first child was not her husband's. When her youngest daughter got pregnant early before marriage, she was furious and threatened to kill the boyfriend!

You probably have a better foundation for parenting than most. As long as you're wanting to be a good parent you will be. We will all make mistakes, that's a given, but it doesn't mean we failed. As my daughter once said to me, if you think you are a failure as a parent then that's an insult to your children.

Commitment trumps 'natural talent' any day. I have one daughter who everything came easy to and onfe who always had to work hard at things. The talented one struggles more with working through things when they get hard, but she's getting there.

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One size definitely doesn't fit all. I was kinda glad I didn't have a second child as I knew I couldn't fluke a decent child twice, lol. I swear I don't know how I raised someone so together, but he tells me I did a good job - do any parents ever think they're nailing it? We seems to learn as we go.

A little neglect could actually make for a more responsible adult.

I'm gonna place my faith in this one - it helps me feel better about the times that I feel guilty for not helping, not being there, and telling him to bloody figure it out for himself. Ah, mother guilt. But I did raise someone who could figure out their own problems, be independent, self reliant and resilient - so there!

Haha! Sometimes they need to be told to figure it out themselves! It obviously worked for him.

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I DEFINITELY wasnt a helicopter mum. Loving, caring, helpful and fun, sure, but expected a lot too.. and insisted he worked stuff out for himself as well. Mayne its the teacher in me.

'Mum, how would I...'
'What do YOU think the first step would be?'

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The timing of your post was perfect for me - I'm in Laos PDR and had to leave Miss 14 alone for 5 days to fend for herself. Feeling guilty and anxious to be in another country with no easy way home if there's a problem. "A little neglect might be just what they need." I'm seeing her capable and confident and stepping up to the daily challenges - and really appreciating your insights.

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My eldest is actually the less sensible of my two, so when she went to England for 5 months at 17 I was nervous, although I knew she'd be with family. My friend assured me she'd be fine and it was just the thing to teach her independence. They rise to the occasion when they need to.

Perhaps when you return home your daughter will have developed that little bit more into her own person.

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That's a lovely thought to hold in my heart. 💚

Meanwhile I’ve often wondered if I’m being too benignly neglectful and not pushing my kids enough 😅 I’m the type that even if I’m there I’m all “you can do it” and provide some assistance if requested but otherwise if they refuse then it doesn’t get done.

Unless it’s a situation where I need to shove them off a cliff.

Even adults need help though, we exist in networks after all 🙃

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I think you'll have some well rounded adults coming out of adolescence! I'm a sucker and give in and do it for them if they won't do it themselves and its something that I really want done.

Even adults need help though,

So true.

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If it’s something I actually need done (like chores) then I’ll do it for them but it does mean they then get less hangout time or we’re definitely not going out now coz I’m always busy 🙃

I still don’t know if that’s good or not 😅

I’m sure they’ll be fine. My dad was kind of like that (he didn’t like making us do anything unlike my mum who was much more realistic about life) and we aren’t completely useless 😜 (okay my sister is a hell of a lot more competent than me but I have successfully lived on my own so there 🤣)

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My husband has always been the one who let's them muddle through things and won't do anything for them. When I'm not there he'll try to get them to do the cooking for him or he'll sort his own food and leave them to sort their's out. So I figure that he gives them the neglect bit that they need. XD

I've never lived alone, but sometimes wish I did...

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