Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Generation Gap in Parenting Styles

There's no one in the world who can make you feel as great about yourself more than your parents can.  We as parents bear the responsibility of molding our children into good and honest people.  We do that by supporting them when they try out new things, at first when they're learning how to walk, when they go to school and then when they grow older we support them in their choice of clothes, colleges, partners and work.  The other side to that is we as mothers can also bring them down in the blink of an eye or better yet the lash of the tongue.

A child's self esteem is built slowly as she grows up, too much praise they say isn't good.  As a child, I came from a generation when giving praise was saved for the ultimate special occasions.  (What those were, I don't know, they were so special they never happened.)  Nowadays, our kids do something as simple as standing up, we applaud and take a hundred pictures.  Each milestone is recorded and captured to be viewed again and again until the next one happens. Yes, sometimes we praise blindly but is that worse than criticizing because we can?  The mothers of our generation differ greatly from the generation of our own mothers.  A vast majority of them worked day and night, while we now have the luxury of being stay at home moms.  The internet has helped us work from home giving us the chance to be with our kids as they grow up.  I know of moms who have never bathed their kids and moms who take a bath with their kids everyday.  Sometimes I think kids have slowly become softer and weaker by the generation.  The harder life was for the children the more resilient they became, direct examples of that are our grandparents.  Who I personally think never got a hug or kiss from their own parents as adults.  And in my imagination, their conversations were all about rehashing past mistakes the children made and past failures to remind them what not to do again.  Does tough love work better because we were trained to work more and do better to get praised?  Or do we sometimes feel that its useless to even try because you can jump to the moon and no one will really notice.  Who really knows.  Growing up I have heard the sentence "I will never do that to my kids" from several people.  They are talking about their own parents.  Every generation thinks they are doing better than what was done to them.  At least we are slowly learning from the mistakes of the past, more hugs less hitting.  I guess the lesson of the story is to learn to believe in yourself and to find validation from within.  Who you are cannot be defined by 1, 2 or 100 mistakes you made in the past,  your worth cannot be measured by how Negative Nancy's and Debbie Downers of the world see you but by how you see yourself.  
There is no right or wrong in parenting styles.  We do what we can with what we have and what we know.  This also goes with parents and children, we do what we can with what we have.  We weren't given a choice to who our parents would be or which kids we would get.  You just do the best with the cards you're dealt.

Thank goodness I think I got pocket rockets who don't need to soar to the moon for me to show them I love them.

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