Monday, 12 September 2011

Parent vrs. Me

I wonder whether there will come a time in every parent’s life that they decide what sort of parent they’ll be? I don’t mean as in a strict or chilled out parent, I mean as in to what extent you follow the ‘do as I say and not as I do’ or ‘do as I say and do as I do’ parent. 

I’ve pondered this recently as I am at a stage in my child’s life that I need to make decisions about how I act and what I say around my boys. My twin boys have just turned 3, they copy all my words and sentences and basically everything I do and say. I hear their little voices (alright, very loud voices) and I hear mini-me’s. For example J & E were in the car with a fire truck having just gone past E’s side of the car... 

E “oohhhhh, a fire truck, maybe it will go and fight a fire?” 
J “the fire truck will go past my side now? ... “ that’s a good idea, it will go pass soon?” 
E: “NOOOO, it’s going to put out a fire” 
... goes back and forward a bit about where the truck is and whether it will go pass J’s side of the car or not....
J “it WILLLLL!!!!!!” 
E: “mummy, J is being loud and naughty, he will go into his room soon?!” 
J: “I’m NOT being naughty” 
E: “mummy, he WILL go to his cot... 5,4,3,2,1... he’s going into his cot when he gets home” 
J: “mummy, I am being a good boy” 
E: “he will not get a cracker, only I will get a cracker because I am a good boy” 

They end up having a bit of a verbal tiff but distraction overruled in this instance but in all of the above I just hear me saying every sentence and even copying my intonations, I start to wonder what I’ve created (2 monsters?) or what am I creating? 

It’s no surprise that their are many parenting style and I’m not an expert but I often come across 3 different types: 
  1. Live and lead by example – just be who you are and you’re happy for your kids to be replicas of you taking the good with the bad. 
  2. Live, change a bit and lead by example –change yourself to become the role model you want your kids to follow and look up to 
  3. Do as I say and not as I do – don’t change much but making sure your kids follow your instructions even though you as an adult may go off track often.
I don’t think many people solely fit into 1 of the above but I’ll just go on and talk about my experience and my current dilemma. You see, I am of the thought process that I want my kids to copy my ‘good’ behaviour and do as I do with me becoming a ‘perfect’ role model but this has meant I have had to change certain characteristics about myself during this parenting process malarkey. 

Things I have changed that come to mind: 
- I don’t swear often and never (or extremely rarely) in front of the boys 
- I never yell at them or around them (I used to, very rarely mind you, yell out of frustration in verbal disagreements). 
 - Don’t watch TV during the day 
- I try to tidy up after I use something – big change for me! 
- I try my best to speak using full words such as ‘do not’, ‘you are’ as I like them to know the individual words rather than ‘don’t’ and ‘you’re’, odd I know? 
- Not use ‘yeh’ ‘hiya’ and ‘cause’, – now that’s been a hard habit to break but the day they came home from daycare saying ‘use guys’ really got to me so at least I managed to change it to a bearable ‘you guys’.

There are probably many examples like the above but I wonder how much of someone (like myself who wants my boys to copy my actions) changes so dramatically that I lose some of my personality just to appease their upbringing? I used to be the ‘distracts others’ in my primary/intermediate years and a rebel in my teenage years but got back on track when I turned 20. I look back at the rebel years and go ‘those were good times’! But, I wonder, do I want my boys to be ‘geeks’, ‘cool’, ‘smart’, ‘sporty’... and how much of what I’m teaching them now paves the way for the future? 

 If a parent swore, smoked, never exercised, drove too fast, use slack lingo... around the boys whether this would instantly turn them into a replica of that person – my presumption is yes. I then realise you can’t help but pave certain ways for them, I have no doubt that our boys will be sporty in one way or another but you never know how good their sporting achievements will be but I don’t care about that part provided they are healthy and enjoy active movement. I would like to think I can create fun, loving, sporty yet sensible teenage boys who know right from wrong, can take certain calculated risks in life but don’t go too far off the beaten track. 

When I read over this all I can think of is myself as I was bought up well, went to average/good schools along the way and had good parent role-models (of course I think I can do better in certain areas, sorry about that one parents if you read this ha ha). I honestly don’t think they did anything wrong to create such a rebel of a teenager and it came down to me being an extrovert so my natural personality overruled BUT I think the fact that I got myself back on track is a testament to their parenting. I knew I was being stupid, knew how to change my behaviour and chose not to until I was ready. 

I feel there are so many rights, wrongs and in-betweens offered to parents to become such an amazing role model you have to put everything in perspective. To realise there is only so much control you can have over the environment they grow up in versus what success they’ll have in life (defining success is another kettle of fish altogether) and only so much of yourself that you can change if indeed you want to in the first place! 

I don’t really have a conclusion for this but your thoughts and experiences are much appreciated and in 20 years I’ll let you know how my boys are going! 

Yvette, Director Little Kickers NZ

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Yvette, loved reading this, been thinking about this topic myself recently with toddler who is a very keen observer/copier (as are all toddlers of course!), and I can sooooo relate to your sentiments, and your 'change list' are some of the exact same things I'm currently attempting to fine-tune also...along with some eating habits that err on the side of 'do as I say, not as I do'! :) I feel like I've grown up 10 years in the last 2 years!..and I thought I was pretty mature-minded type of person before..well, parenting is something else entirely isn't it! :) To try to help in my moments of parenting panic I've just started a small journal/notebook, split into ages/stages, of random parenting thoughts..including things that my parents did that I'm keen to replicate and things that spring to mind that I think they could have handled better (usually from my teenage years!haha!), and noting some traits that I appreciated in other adult role models that I had, so I can easily recognise, acknowledge, and seek out those traits in possible adult role models for my boy in the future. Perhaps I'll name my notebook "Parenting process malarkey"! love it! :)


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