A couple of weeks ago I realized that along with the dusty corners of my RV, my parenting needed a spring cleaning. There were behaviors being exhibited by my youngest that were not getting better. Now, it would seem that after having three children go through the same stages, I would be an expert by the time the fourth came through. Nope. And please note, I will NEVER claim to be an expert on motherhood. Just a believer in it. A companion along for the motherhood journey.
Few books were offered the prestigious opportunity of living in the RV, just to let you know where this book ranks. I pulled out my go-to parenting book aka “Barbara.” I wondered what Barbara had to say on this one? It occurred to me just then that I had not been chatting with Barbara for quite some time! I needed a refresher. I needed to be reminded of a different style of parenting then the one that came naturally to me. The one I had practiced on my first born.
I was reminded of where I began and where I am today as my children all near their teen years. I wish I would have known as a new mother my direction and how to connect in with my kids. To talk about anything and everything. Maybe my journey was meant for something bigger. Maybe I walked it, so I can share it.
And so this is where the story begins. My parenting story. May you learn from my mistakes. And never accidentally leave your child in the car while you go in to get paint samples at the local hardware store. Or go to the emergency room after your baby hit their head because they kicked themselves out of their carseat onto the tiles of the YMCA floor. Like I said, I am not an expert. Just a survivor.
When I was pregnant it never crossed my mind to have a parenting philosophy ready and waiting like the basinet. And after Elizabeth came into this world, let’s be real, I was just trying to get through my days. It didn’t cross my mind to think of a parenting philosophy until I walked into the auditorium to hear Barbara Coloroso speak about her book Kids Are Worth It! : Giving Your Child The Gift Of Inner Discipline. (affiliate link)
I realized I had spent time and energy as my daughter grew thinking about educational goals, sports goals, music goals, and spiritual goals. How did I miss thinking about parenting goals?
I wanted my kids to be happy little people like any parent. But, Jon and I had never really talked about what our long term goals were in our parenting or what philosophy we believed in. We were, well, just parenting. As in, getting through the day! And exhausted. I hardly ever felt like the happy, organized, playful mothers on TV. I usually wore an old tee and some jeans, hair sticking out, and bad breath because I couldn’t get in the bathroom for one minute to brush my teeth. Survival, that was parenting, until I heard Barbara.
What happened next was called thinking. Thinking about parenting. What an amazing idea! How about Jon and I spend time after dinner when all of the kids are asleep to talk about this thing we were now wading in. We could even drink some wine to motivate spending time on talking. Maybe we needed two bottles. Whatever it took because this was happening. This thinking of parenting thing that Barbara talked about was goin’ down!
After much deliberation, wine tasting, and awkward silence, Jon and I came up with a list of goals for our parenting.
We wanted to encourage our children to be:
- independent thinkers
- valuable contributors to society
We wanted to set up our parenting so that by the time our children were ready to live independently of us, they had all of the tools they needed to soar. At the root of our goals was a simple philosophy – To treat others the way we wanted to be treated. In other words, to parent our children in a loving way. If we wouldn’t want it done or said to us, we didn’t want to do it or say it to our children.
Our parenting goals back then were more focused on what our kids would become. After going through recovery, we have some different goals for our kids today which I will share later.
Old Belief Systems
In order to embrace our parenting philosophy, we needed to leave behind some cultural belief systems. We needed to get a handle on some of the things we did and said to our children.
We realized in our heart we did NOT believe:
- It was okay for children to be controlled.
- It was okay for children to be manipulated.
- It was okay for children to be spoken to through yelling or using unloving language.
- It was okay for children to be hit through spanking with the hand, belt, or paddle.
And that was the day our old parenting style blew up in our face. Kaboom.
More embarrassing parenting stories to come.