It’s no good trying to write because my mind is on birthdays. My youngest is coming home to celebrate hers with us. Such a treasure to have that in our lives. After tomorrow we’ll no longer have a teenager in the family. I bet you can’t even imagine that if yours are small and cuddly.
Don’t worry – they’re just as cuddlesome when they’re big!
There’s always this concern in parenting about how your relationships will turn out. You hear such horror stories. I also know that not everyone was as lucky with their own parents as I was with my mum. (You can read about her ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ – she is like a cuddle in a book!) She gave me a great grounding in relationships.
When you parent, especially if you home educate, you do wonder whether you’ll even still be speaking to one another when you come out the other end, let alone cuddling.
Thankfully, we are! Better than that, both mine class me as their best friend. Since they have lots of adult best friends now, whom I admire, I feel quite privileged by that!
And just to top it all my youngest related a conversation between her and another dad recently. He was telling her he’d grounded his sixteen year old, which my daughter found quite shocking.
“Really! That’s a bit harsh,” she said rather horrified at the thought. “I’ve never been grounded.”
The guy looked at her. I think he thought she was bragging.
“You must have been very good then,” he said.
But she wasn’t bragging; just thinking about it. And she replied with the innocence of the young about what she might be implying.
“No. It’s just my mum taught me well.”
Apparently his eyebrows hit the ceiling!
These home schooled kids are opening people’s eyes even beyond education it seems. They certainly open mine!
I was trying to think what I might have done that earned me such credit so I could pass it on. This is what I came up with:
– I was always honest. I believe in honesty even when it’s difficult. I’m not saying there are not little white lies along the way, after all, ours believed in Santa! But honesty with each other, an expectation of honesty, is paramount even when it requires a bit of age-appropriate editing. It’s what builds trust and respect.
– I didn’t make unnecessary, or unsubstantiated, rules and regulations just for my own convenience which I couldn’t back up with logical arguments. I hate unnecessary rules, rules that keep us imprisoned in an unjust hierarchy without regard for equality. We were all treated with the same respect.
– I didn’t shy away from confronting difficult issues. Like saying no (and why) sometimes, expressing concern or opinion, or discussing things that bugged me about their behaviour for example. It was out in the open, with the reasoning, so there was no resentment.
– I listened. And they were allowed to tell me about my behaviour!
– And I questioned myself a lot. Whether I was fair, just and authentic. Parenting is hard and challenging. But it’s not acceptable to be unfair because you’re bigger and want your way. Decisions and discussions were democratic.
– I was always on their side and through my consistent behaviour towards them they knew it. Doesn’t mean I didn’t challenge them, or lose it sometimes (always apologised). Or that they didn’t challenge me! But I always maintained we were a team which ultimately pulled together. For each other.
And happily, we still are!
(For more tips on parenting little ones check out my new book ‘mumhood how to handle it why it matters)