Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Parent Trap

I just love reading Dawn Mehan’s blog Because I Said So each morning. She’s the young mother of 6 with a wonderful sense of humor about every day life. She’s what every young mother needs a good dose of in order to keep motherhood in perspective. I remember how hard it was when at 21 years of age I became a mother of twins. It was absolutely overwhelming and I didn’t have a clue! Not one! Thank goodness my mother was close by or those kids might have cradle cap to this day. Who ever heard of cradle cap when they were 21 years old? I also had some great neighbors who were about 10 years my senior. These women were great mentors to me and I tried so hard to emulate their parenting. The biggest personality on the block was Barbara. She was a perfectionist housekeeper and never hesitated telling any of us how smart her children were. She always had a belt hanging on the wall ready in case one of her children misbehaved. She definitely did not believe in sparing the rod. Her youngest child was a boy 2 weeks younger than my twins. I loved Barbara very much but it was difficult living with the constant comparison of our children. Fortunately, my girls were retained in kindergarten and Barbara’s son went on to first grade forever putting them in different classes and grades. This was actually a blessing. I remember trying to use Barbara’s method of corporal punishment brought on more from peer pressure. What I quickly discovered is each parent must find his or her own style of parenting. I was not comfortable with spanking because I can’t bring myself to hit anyone especially my own children. When something doesn’t feel right you can bet it won’t be effective either. I had to find discipline that not only worked for me but for my children. I think a parent is the best judge of what works for their child. Trust your own judgment.

When my daughters were teenagers I received a call from a younger co-worker who had two year old twins at the time. She was at her wits end and almost in tears told me she felt so awful because at that moment she wasn't even sure if she liked her girls. I asked her just how many times had she been the mother of 2 year old twins. She responded in a shaky voice "never". I laughed and told her there would be lots of days when she will question whether she likes her kids but she will never question her love for them. I told her to give herself a break. Parenting is like riding the biggest ride in the amusement park. It's thrilling, has lots of ups and downs and twists and turns. But in the end it leaves you breathless but smiling. Today, I have grown daughters who are educated, independent and loving young women. I enjoy a wonderful relationship with each of them. Remember, parenting is a work in progress. Just don’t forget to laugh along the way.

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