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Parenting Mistakes

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Snow wrote something thought-provoking about parenting children. She wondered how much upbringing and certain experiences, or lack thereof, influence the adult a child becomes.

Conscientious parents are always concerned about impacts of parenting styles and the way we raise our children. I was. The old question of what makes an adult behave the way they do? Nature or nurture? Is it environment that shapes a child more or nature, or a blend of both?

Is there even such a thing as a perfect parent? Many expect that of ourselves and aspire to be just that – a perfect parent. Some fantasy that is unattainable.

What Kind of Parent are You?

Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” ~Oscar Wilde

I wanted to be a good parent and read all kinds of parenting books and tips during my pregnancies, but children don’t always fit the model the book writes about, do they?

Children are as individual as there are grains of sand on the beach. Often-times, you have to make up the rules on the hop. There’s no time to analyse what is best, especially when you are dealing with more than one child, sibling rivalries, nappies, meals, and other family commitments.

I wasn’t a perfect parent and I don’t know anyone that was. Most parents have good intentions, most do their best they can at that given moment. There is no guidebook and every child is an individual.

For many years, I looked up to a neighbour who seemed to manage four small children without any kind of drama. Her life was perfect and her children were perfect. One evening, I was outside in my backyard. When all is quiet, noise carries further and I could heard her berating her children. The fantasy was shattered.

As a parent, I made blunders and regretted actions I took, enforcing certain boundaries for my own children. Sometimes I allowed them too much freedom, other times not enough. What worked for one child, did not seem to work for the next. In talking to other parents, it is apparent everyone makes mistakes at some point. If there is a parent that thinks they did the perfect job, I am yet to meet them.

Snow questions if it matters if her children haven’t petted a cat or flown on an airplane?
I don’t think it does. Many kids grow up in areas without first-world privileges, TV or devices. Does it make a big difference to the adult they become?

There is much more to a child than the environment. Give a child an expensive toy and some will use their imagination playing with the large cardboard box the toy came in than with the toy itself.

Children and Television

When my children were small, they were not allowed to watch a particular TV show during school terms, but they could watch it in the school holidays. Given that we had younger children in the house, I did not deem that show to be appropriate for our family. Yet, all the other boys in his school class got to watch this TV show and my son didn’t.

Years later, when he was a teenager, my son told me in a half-joking way that he had felt left out at school, as he couldn’t contribute to the playground conversation. When I asked him why – he told me that the playground chats with the boys in his class were always about what happened in the previous night’s episode, of that TV show.

Was he deprived for not being able to contribute to the social conversation at school? He felt ostracised and belonging is important to everyone. Did this affect him long term? The answer is uncertain and depends on his own judgement of that experience and his perspective.

Emotional Baggage

Some adults carry emotional wounds, whether that be from an experience, an interaction with a bully, personal loss or grief. Do we re-live our negative experiences and continue to harbour resentment or blame, thus being a victim, or move past it and grow?

If we aren’t able to move on and forgive transgressions from our past, we might get stuck resenting someone or something.

“As adults, we have the capacity to shape their own lives and the responsibility to do so.”

Oprah

Ultimately, if you listen to your children, care for them, give them reasonable boundaries and above all, love them unconditionally, then you ARE the perfect parent for that child. After all, you do know your children best.

Perhaps my son will forgive me one day.

A Home by the Sea

27 thoughts on “Parenting Mistakes”

  1. When you’re saying “Many kids grow up in areas without first-world privileges, TV or devices. Does it make a big difference to the adult they become?”
    I believe it does a MASSIVE difference. Not necessarily in a good or bad way. But of course growing up with such or such third party’s impact necessarily makes you a different person to my opinion. Like having siblings or being an only child, like belonging to a very sociable family or a very introvert one, like growing up in a city or a village…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “A big difference but not necessarily good or bad.” It is interesting to think our formative years affect our character in fundamental ways. If these changes are life long can they be transformed, at a later date, in our life, or are they completely fixed in concrete, Vero?

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      1. I don’t think anything is ever fixed, do you? We evolve and keep adapting and growing all along our life. Or so I think! Every steps of our lives, every worlds we entered shape us like a never-ending piece of pottery.

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      2. Very true, Vero – even our brains are capable of growth and change. Neuroplasticity is the buzz word at the moment in child development. That is an excellent analogy, a never ending piece of pottery on the wheel with its twists and turns.

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    2. “Many kids grow up in areas without first-world privileges, TV or devices. Does it make a big difference to the adult they become?” I agree with Véro, it makes a massive difference. Of course formative years are super important. It’s when the identity is born and languages are learned. If you want your kids to learn a language as a native speaker, they must be immersed in that language by the age 5 or so. And isn’t the whole issue of childhood very much what psychology deals with?

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      1. I was interested in what you thought and you are surely one of the ones where that time did have a major impact. For me, it was life in suburbia, no different languages, not much in playgrounds or parks, just a back yard, the neighbours children and one’s imagination. Boring but very stable and predictable I guess. I would have loved to swap places with you – going to a new country and having the opportunity to learn a new language – I would have been in heaven. But it wasn’t to be for me, and I know that it was hard for you and I probably would have wanted to return to Australia too. I remember a girl from Wales coming here – she had a really hard time and spoke English, but it was difficult for her to integrate. Do you remember your old address in the southern suburbs? Have you looked it up on Google to see if the old house is still there?
        Yes I think psychology does very well out of childhood experiences that aren’t dealt with and sorted…..

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      2. Well no, I really don’t think you would’ve been in heaven if you were in my place and at my age 😊💕 It wasn’t an instagram moment or winter wonderland or an exiting adventure. Maybe it would have gone better if internet had been invented: more info available all around. We arrived just when an enourmous economic depression was starting, and our quality of life drastically sunk. No more sunshine and fun and games, just grey gloom. There weren’t even any shops here, it was like the Soviet Union… In general, yes moving and learning a new language are positive, but only when it’s done right. I guess that’s why so many families with kids hesitate to move abroad into the unknown: it isn’t always a happy adventure.

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      3. I do agree that families with teens in particular, would hesitate before making a big inter-country move. Some don’t have a choice and they pay a heavy price.
        Ecomonic depression, no shops and like the Soviet Union kind of Finland? Okay, that I didn’t realize about Finland of that era.
        No wonder Daisy Hill and Taneh Merah seem idyllic! They aren’t the greatest suburbs now, though, Snow. Lots of crime and drugs there!

        I think I would have found that Finland you described pretty dismal too, but the nature may have suited me a little better. I do take your point though, that an imagined Scandi childhood image is probably more of a fantasy than reality. But I can still dream of a childhood summer at a swedish torp fishing or swimming in the lake, or having a sauna on those long summer evenings, watching the birch trees wave in the gentle breezes with the odd deer fly and tick, and falling on ice/playing in snow a but in winter, at least?

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      4. Back then, they were calm neighbourhoods but I can imagine that times change!! I wonder what my old school would be like. And of course, dream on!!! Those dreams are something I’ve nevet experienced here: no sunsets by a lake after sauna, but for most Finns that would be an everday thing at their summer cabins. We are like orphans, no relatives here or summer place. That too makes a big difference when moving from one continent to another: do you have a network? It was like an active outdoorsy life changed into a lockdown type of experience: trapped in a tiny flat with nothing to do. But luckily Helsinki has made big steps for the better during the past decade. It’s more international and current now. Also more consumerist but in this case I see that as something positive, since the alternative was ”nothing”! Btw, I sometimes dream of a depressing shopping mall downtown which I visited after school with a friend. I was around 12 then too, for some reason that year haunts me in my dreams!!

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      5. What was the shopping mall – would it be Logan hyperdome?
        If they were happy times, they would return in your dreams, depressing shopping centre or not. I am glad that Finland is changing for the better. I liked Heksinki the way it was. A city that was a manageable size but still with facilities.
        Does your partner not have Finnish relatives with a summerhouse either?

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      6. The depressing shopping center was in Helsinki so no, not exactly happy dreams 😂. Not even a mall, just a couple of shops. That was all! Not that I had any money. But it was just how we moved from plentitude and our own backyard into a bleak poor existence. Friends were hard to make and no one cared the least bit about my experiences and who I was. I was just boxed in and labeled as a regular local kid. And no, my partner doesn’t have any siblings and his family is very small, just his parents.

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      7. Ps. Someone in my family did look up our old addresses (we had two, plus my grandma’s) and they all still existed but had changed obviously. One of them looked like a jungle! 😆 We lived in Daisy Hill and somewhere else… my best friend lived in Tanah Merah and I spent lots of time there too

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  2. Your son’s story about the TV show reminds me of a similar one with my girl. There was some card collection game that was all the rage with the 7th-8th Graders. I don’t remember banning it but apparently I did. When she entered a new school at 9th grade, it was something that she couldn’t bond with the other kids. But it was no big thing, she more than survived and did very well at the new school. She still keeps in contact with some of those 9th graders and they occasionally rib her with “How could you NOT know … (whatever the card collector thing was) ..”
    As a parent I wasn’t perfect. There are some things I wished I’d done differently but many that I’m glad I did as I did. We can only do the best according to our intent and not lose ourselves in the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Sandy – you phrase that ever so nicely. “We can only do our best according to our intent and not lose ourselves in the process.” Yes we must be authentic. It does the child no good and would only be confusing if the real parent was somehow different to the persona of the parent that sets boundaries.

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  3. I’m happy to have inspired you – creating conversation is what fuels us bloggers, isn’t it? 🙂 Interesting to hear your thoughts! I never read any parenting books and I try to steer clear of that kind of thing unless it’s specifically aimed for very active twins. Twins have such a unique kind of interaction, different from siblings, and reading about regular problems can be irritating. (I can only imagine what it must be like with triplets!!!).
    I quite like the quote “We worry (…) yet forget they are someone today”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad you like the quote, Snow and I can well understand that the usual parenting guides don’t work with twins. Good for you not reading them as they don’t really help. There is so much conflicting advice from books, relatives and friends. Don’t overfeed your baby, then another: you can’t overfeed a breastfed baby, and still another has other opinions about why a baby won’t settle. It does one’s head in.

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  4. Interesting thoughts! My children are grown now, but I also read some good books…and then I did what my sound thoughts told me. Children are different, but I have always been able to talk to them and we have had many sound discussions. Even when they were very small. I have forgiven my parents (not much to forgive…), and I hope my children will forgive my mistakes as well. I believe most of us do our very best, want the very best for them, and I am content with how it all worked out. I think many young mothers worry too much. If you are well read and listen to your own heart and sound solutions – and keep discussing with your children – everything will be all right. No one is perfect.

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    1. Keeping the communication channels open – that is essential, I agree. Young mums and dads do worry a lot, A-C. They want to do a great job and worry about long term welfare of their children.

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      1. As the world becomes more complex and life is so interconnected, we receive so much more information both in terms of parenting information and global issues. This leads to a more informed public, but also a public that has more to be concerned about. A double-edged sword, in some ways. Sometimes I will go for days without listening to the news, only what other people tell me, just to get a break from the constant stream of problems in the world. I imagine many Swedes take off to a summerhouse or a Swedish cabin in the woods that is offline as a way to disconnect for a weekend here and there?

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