Oy. I’ve had enough.
Tiger moms, mama grizzlies.
Not to mention Ayelet Waldman.
Parenting is a style. Some of it’s instinctive but more of it is learned. You liked what your mom did? You act and imitate it. You disliked it? You react and do something else. You observe, maybe you read a little, you do what you think is right. And then you pray. A lot.
Each kid needs a different parent and no kid is born into the same family. There is no “one size fits all” in parenting. Just when you think you’ve got it right, you realize you need a whole different system. It’s learning on the job. It’s flying by the seat of your pants. It’s knowing–absolutely–that you are going to goof- sometimes in a big way.
My friend told me that when she asked her husband if he thought they’d mess their kids up the way their parents messed them up, he replied, “No, we’ll do it in our own (expletive deleted) way.” Wise man.
I was pretty strict with my children. I expected them to uphold standards of behavior which, my husband and I agreed, were realistic for each particular child at their particular stage of development. I was very consistent and followed through. I remember, in the antediluvian past, when my older daughter and son wanted phones in their rooms. I was against that on principle (too spoiled) so I put an extension of the house phone in the hall between their rooms. I told them that they had to negotiate the use of the phone (I forbade call-waiting) and the first time I heard a fight over the phone, I was going to rip it out of the wall. I never did hear of a fight. Which doesn’t mean there weren’t any.
What we said, went. There could be an appeal but if, after giving it another go-round of discussion, we still said “no,” that was it.
We do the best we can and we hope that when they grow up, our kids forgive us our mistakes.
I’m sorry, daughter #1, that I only let you choose a New York college and wouldn’t let you go out of town. I’m sorry, son #1 that I didn’t let you go to the concert, the tickets to which you won on a radio show. Daughter #2, wanted to go to a New Year’s Eve party in the city when she was 14. I said absolutely not. The local party I let her attend was broken up by the police. The decisions we made seemed like the right decisions then. (The concert seems like the right decision now, too. And I shouldn’t have let her go to either party.) And son #2….well, let’s leave the baby of the family out of this for now…His sibs still think he got away with murder. But, truthfully, he needed a very different parent than they did. Maybe, as their families grow, they’ll get that.
So, moms, don’t be tigers, or grizzlies. Or Ayelet Waldman.
Be yourselves, do the best you can, and know you’re going to make mistakes. Just love as much as you possibly can. Treat each child as an individual. And know that it really does go very fast.
My daughter (#1) once described our home as a “benevolent dictatorship.” I love that.