There is a fine line between standing on your own two feet, and standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before you. This is an issue that every child has to face – and oddly enough that includes us who are currently parents!
Do you parent the way your parents parented?
Have you thought about why you do what you do?
Peter and I respect both our parents for the ‘job’ they did as our parents – we involve them in our lives as counsellors, mentors and friends. As parents ourselves we have done some things much like they did, and we have done some things vastly different. We have been thankful for the heritage they gave us, and yet we have felt the need to forge our own trail – and our kids, they will do the same when they become parents (I hope!)
Copying what our parents did just because they did it is sort of like the old quip: If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?
We must be thinking parents. Just because it worked for our parents doesn’t mean it will work for us.
- We are different people, with different relationship styles, communication styles, different priorities and goals, different passions, weaknesses, strengths etc
- When we get married, we join two family histories together and become one new family. Our parenting will reflect that new – there will be bits of one or the other, or both, but we need to be true to this new family.
- Each generation offers different challenges and expectations, and though we don’t want to bow to the expectations of society any more than the habits of our parents, we are living in a different world than the world our parents brought us up in.
The caution with this mindset is that we throw the baby out with the bathwater – ditch everything our parents ever stood for, and just do it our own way – just because we can. This is an attitude that refuses to learn from our parents, refuses to learn from those who have been there and done it. This is the attitude we accuse teenagers of having. Stubborn, wilful, independent.
Both these choices (mindlessly copying, and intentionally ignoring) are equally unwise as each other.
An intentional parent will
- Know why they do what they are doing.
- Learn from those who have gone before them; ask questions from those who they admire
- Separate the principal from the practice: A principle stays true, regardless of time, but our practices need to reflect the context of our life.
- Talk to each other (husband and wife) and listen to the heart of each other and come to a consensus for your new family.
Ultimately, an intentional parent thinks. They don’t just copy. They don’t just react to the past.
Oddly enough this lesson is also a lesson we need to teach our kids – especially our teens. We don’t want them just copying us, or reacting to us and our beliefs, values, passions. Instead we want them to own things for themselves; we want them to be thinking teens.
- We want them to know why they do what they do
- We want them to learn from people who have gone on before them, but be strong enough to forge their own way
- We want them to be able to see the principle (and hold that principle in their heart) and yet be real enough to find the right application of that principle in their life today.
- We want them to talk to us, as they process what this all means.
This is a part of growing up. They will take a part of us, and it will become a part of them, but there will be different parts as well. Regardless of how alike they are to us, they will never be a mirror image – God didn’t make them that way! They have a path to tred through their life, and we need to prepare them to stand strong and live their life based on what they believe (not on what we believe).
This is indeed tricky, as we have invested so many hours in teaching, training and guiding them – there comes a time where we have to let them stand on their own feet, and decide, no I’m not jumping just because you are.
Also sharing and linking with others:
Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)
Monday’s Musings, Thoughtful Spot, Hip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Coffee and Conversation, Finishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years), Capture your Journey, Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home, A Little R & R, From House to Home, Fellowship Fridays, Homeschooling Highschool Linkup, Weekly Wrap-up, Collage Fridays