First: A Quick Celebratory Note! This blog passed up the 1,000 views mark, and I’m excited about it!
Thanks to anyone who reads, you make me blush.
Unfortunately, I’m home sick. Since yesterday, I’m stuck lying around in bed, sleeping periodically–yuck. Just what I wanted, when the weather finally seems to be coming out of the deep ice-age! So anyhow… No need to feel too sad for me: with my conscious sickbed time, I’ve been reading some pretty sweet new blogs on a new, interesting site called Seeded Buzz. The site allows you to browse categorically, and so it wasn’t difficult to quickly find some meaty stuff that piqued my interest. They specifically fine-tune the site to get interesting blogs that people WANT to read. Nice. My favorite new blog, of the moment, is Organically Inclined. The content she features is top-notch, readable, funny, and life applicable when you’re concerned with being a sustainable family. Her wit is astounding. Her life story is unbelievable. She’s also written a stash of books. Wowza.
So my inspiration sprouted from her post on Unschooling her children, which I think is fabulous. There are many aspects of parenting, but different styles affect everything. I thought this nifty diagram would help you, humorously, envision the different influences of parenting styles, and how they affect children. Funny, because of the complicated nature, but truthful nonetheless.
Ok–so the main idea of this post was inspired by one of the posts on Organically Inclined (by Michelle Kennedy Hogan). Hopefully you’re following this trail of thoughts. I’ve devoted a few moments of my time to pondering parenting (through my years studying Psych), and it’s certainly a hot-seat topic worth revving our engines for. The plot of the parenthood story is not a boring one: many parents have to deal with kids who aren’t ordinary (Ha, Whatever the heck that means!), who have special needs for learning or growing or communicating; who have personalities that require specific attention of some kind (i.e. behavioral issues, special needs, social anxiety, exceptional intelligence, etc.), and it boils down to being a HUGE role for the shining parent star.
The cast in the story of raising a child is certainly not small, from what I have seen. The character list of a child-rearing story consists of many players, (on every layer imaginable!) both wanted and unwanted, helping, or telling, the parent what they need to and SHOULD do for the best interest of their child! Sound scary? I think so. Some of these individuals may be: Neighbors, Grandparents, Friends, Teachers, Other Parents, Psychologists, Social Workers, The Lunch Lady, The Librarian, and various other Random Social Figures (named and unnamed). As you see, there are a lot of people trying to give the dish about being a parent.
Being Little Mrs. Newlywed, I’m only just beginning to understand the dynamics involved with this crazy little charade. I’m excited about it, but I think it’s still a social game that you have to figure out. I do know that there will always be extremes, and I probably don’t want to be either of them. One extreme I never want to become is this: Amy Chua wrote a book called “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” which I first heard about on NPR. They were introducing the story, in an interesting light, by saying how harsh, yet funny, Chua’s books was. It’s all about the “Chinese Way” of parenting. It’s controversial, it is borderline insanity, and in the U.S. I’m sure any onlookers would be calling DCFS faster than the perpetrating parent can drag their child to the car. Harshness is certainly not my cup of parenting tea. I would rather my kids have, more-or-less free will, fail when necessary, and realize their failures in life on their own (with me offering guidance)..than lord over them with a strict, hitler-like regime of educational strictness and strivings after success. Bad as all of this seems to me, (horrible!) I still can’t wait to grab a copy from the library and check out this style of hard parenting in its entirety, for myself.
On another wavelength entirely, we have The Unschooling Parent. The unschooling parent seems to allow her children to thrive the way they are, how they want to, when and where they want to. As I read this aforementioned article, my heart fluttered happily with visions of hippie flowers and rainbows. Ok.. maybe that was the Nyquil. This is the kind of parenting dreams are made of. This is more along the lines of how I envision myself. It’s more of an extreme than a lot of parents (but there are a lot of categories of these extremes) towards children being responsible, parents allowing them to crash if need be, and allowing kids to pursue their passions. Michelle offers up interesting insight about her kids, and how she handled situations with them… plus the fact that you don’t need to sweat over your kids ACT scores, and other “measures of success.” I couldn’t agree more, and these are some interesting things to think about.
So what exactly do I want to do when I’m a parent? Well, first off, I have to acknowledge that it’s impossible for me to be and do everything I hope I will. My dad has made that really, super, pristinely clear to me over the course of my teenage years, until present. I would yell at him as a teen, “I’ll NEVER MAKE MY KIDS DO THIS!!!” Or something along those lines.. and now, I look back and realize that I have no idea what I would do in my parents’ place. Funny. As a parent, I do know that I want to always give Unconditional Positive Regard. I’ve thought long and hard, and I know this is the TOP priority for me. No matter what. If my kid comes out having purple hair, green toes, and pink lips… so be it. They will be beautiful and important and interesting to me. I want to give that Agape kind of love, that I’ve only found in my relationship with Jesus. Some other things? I want to give my kids a chance to be who they are, without the heavy impressions of gender stereotypes. If I have a little boy, I want to read about Trains, Planes, and Automobiles… But I’ll still be reading him “Olivia”!!! If I have a little girl, I’m not going to tell her she has to be a Mommy, and I’d really prefer to NOT give her a baby and a stroller when she’s 3 years old. I know, I know… these things have become the norm… but I want to give my kids a chance to decide for themselves what they’re interested in, without all of society’s opinions deciding for them first.