My mother must not have put the curse on me; you know the dreaded curse, “I hope when you have children they give you as much grief as you have given me!” I mean if any child ever deserved to hear that it was me, but even in that regard my mother would more likely have spoiled me before she would have cursed me. In comparison my children are an absolute blessing. While my parents did the best they could do with me, I mean ultimately I end up a good person and I have always been respectful of those people that have respected me. There are things that I would have done differently. These are the things my wife and I do different from both our upbringings and I believe they are the reason my children are nothing like either one of us were growing up.
Growing up I never felt my parents put any expectations on me or if they did I probably rebelled against them. For me it became good enough that I had potential and I never worked hard enough to fulfill that potential. With my children, my wife and I have expectations. The best example of this would be my middle child, he had a difficult delivery- wide shoulders, petite mother- he was stuck. He did eventually come out and he had a conehead a pointy conehead (after a couple days it looked like a normal head, but we were worried at first.) He was a very late talker and needed speech therapy, which with the help of a wonderful Head Start program he got. When it came time for regular school it was up to us if he was labeled as “special needs” because he was not that bad, but he would likely benefit from the extra help.
We chose to let him receive the extra help, so for kindergarten and first grade he went to a blended program that was offered at a school different from the one he would have gone to. This involved taking a different bus, a little bus and he didn’t like that. He wanted to be taking the same bus and going to the same school as his big brother. Sometime between kindergarten and first grade something clicked and he got it. When we went to the teacher conference at the beginning of his first grade year the teacher was already talking about if he continued improving that by next year he would not need to be in a blended program. Once we told him how close he was to being able to return to a regular class and motivated him with being able to go to school with his brother, he took off. By the end of the year he was getting no extra help from the teachers and was one of the top students. This year, his first marking period in middle school, he was on the merit roll, now he’s shooting for the honor roll, his motivation? Being able to stay up a half-hour later, hey whatever works, right?
Two things that fall into a similar category, that we do differently are; we do not let the children divide us (I had mastered this with my parents) and discipline is handled jointly (most often, sometimes you just have to make the call yourself.) The first is by far the more important of the two. Growing up, to get myself out of trouble I would get my parents to fight each other, I don’t even really know how and eventually they picked up on it, though it did still work once in awhile. Just because we try to not let it happen, does not mean the children don’t sometimes try to divide us and sometimes almost succeed. We always realize it in the end and whatever discipline they were going to get ends up worse. The discipline part we are pretty good at; each child is different and reacts to different forms of discipline. For one of them it might be taking away an iPod for another going to bed early, whatever works best on the child being disciplined. Once the sentence is passed on the guilt party and then seconded by the other parent there is never an appeal, for whom can they appeal to?
Another thing we have tried to avoid is the spoiled youngest child syndrome. My daughter is the youngest and the only girl and much the same way I was a mama’s boy she is a daddy’s girl. I do spend more time with her, in my defense she wants to spend more time me with then her older brothers do and I know this won’t last so I am enjoying it while I can. When it comes to discipline though, there is no being spoiled, you get what you deserve. All three of our children are aware of this and as long as we remain consistent with this we generally have very few problems. If we slack in discipline it shows in their behavior as they will push the limit and try getting away with more, we just tighten the reins and order is restored.
My oldest son will be sixteen next month. He is not my biological son, but I have been his father for almost thirteen years and he has had no contact with the person that my wife refers to as the “sperm-donor” during that time. Well for some reason he looks up to me, almost to the point of idolizing me. I started taking my writing seriously and began working on a novel, so he started working on a story (a very awesome story it is) and there are many other things; the way he speaks and acts mirror me big time. While I am flattered and much honored, it also scares the living shit out of me. I am far, far from perfect and I spend a lot my time deflating his inflated version of me. I point out the worst of my flaws and how he can improve on the things that I was not so successful at. I encourage him to speak his own mind not to echo the sediments of myself or anyone else for that matter.
For our part, my wife and I are willing to spend the time with our children. We eat meals together, help with homework and we talk openly with one another and keep the lines of communications open at all times. They are not perfect children and we would be bored if they were. Each one offers their own challenges and it is up to us as their parents to rise up to the challenge.
Parenting is never easy, but for me it is always a joy and I feel it is the roll I was born to play. My parents had a good blueprint, I just happened to find every single loophole and exploit them, one and all. Ultimately their blueprint did produce a good adult and an excellent husband and father. We took our parents blueprints and built from them, closed the loopholes and the result has been well behaved children. We are constantly being complimented on their behavior so we must be doing something right. The mother’s curse could not have been directed at either, my wife or I, because our children really have been a blessing.