I also realized that because of my daughers I am able to see myself as if in a mirror. I am very often taken back in time and and recognize the patterns that shaped me as a person. As new issues surface I am flabbergasted at how my parents dealt with some of them and I am becoming conscious about what I am trying to avoid or improve.
I am currently debating how to encourage my daughters never to loose that independent streak, that curiosity and strong will while teaching them to respect other people’s choices, feelings and things. As I have been recently searching for a perfect mix of friends in homeschooling circles I ran into basically two types of parenting styles within HS community. One is based on parental control where kids are given only certain amount of freedom and their parents run the show. The other is completely opposite to the first one and gives kids a very broad autonomy if not a complete freedom. While I pretty much lean towards the second one I am not comfortable with some aspects of it. The foremost I wasn’t pleased with the fact that parents value their own children’s freedom to such extent that they forget that some other kids may be hurt in the process. I encountered it several times, parents gently offer an advice to their young children and if the child doesn’t want to use it they let it be. Which is fine with me except for the fact that they don’t learn how to be sensitive to other children’s feelings and safety. It is OK with me if they choose not to nag their kids to be polite but I object if they fail to instill some safety rules at play.
But I digressed as I wanted to concentrate on how parenting is a journey to my childhood and how it also affects me as a person.
My parents pretty much taught me to be ALWAYS polite and respect the elders, leaders, teachers and whomever else. While I like that concept I think they stretched it too much and forced me to ALWAYS feel like a second best because I was supposed to be polite and obedient. They didn’t teach me how to stand up for myself especially if a bully was attacking me, they insisted that I must be humble and helpful. This kind of philosophy brought me to have a very low self esteem and give up before I even started. If I was always to be amiable, attentive, kind and considerate of others there was no more room for me to be MYSELF. I practically was putting myself behind everybody else. I learnt how to swallow my tears and never raise my voice. I figured out how to pretend to be OK when my heart ached. I wasn’t supposed to voice my real negative thoughts because that was labeled as disrespectful towards other person. Well, yes, my mom did it. She believed that I was to be a perfect kind person but she never realized that she was bringing up an emotional wreck. I was loved by her as long as I followed her lead. There were many times I tried to rebel and every time when I did her love was severely withdrawn.
I ended up to be an adult with severe low self-esteem, lack of personality and depressive moods. I remember being a teenager and wanting to stay all day in bed and sleep. There were times in my adult life when I wanted to disappear and never appear again. One thing for sure I am well versed in is how to be sensitive to other people’s moods, needs and feelings. But oh my, it doesn’t help much to learn how to stand up for myself.
So how does all this apply to my daughters? Well, of course, I am not going to repeat the same nonsense that my parents did to me. I am working hard to SHOW and not only tell them they are valuable just because. I give them my love freely without limits (I hope) and make sure they are aware of it. They are allowed to have feelings and express them even if they are negative. I am teaching them how to deal with people and know their own value. There are so many things every day that happen to them that open my old wounds and take me back to my past. When I see a little person in a park trying to play with Alexandra’s trike I hear a voice of my parent from the past:”Let him play with it, you have to be nice to everyone”. And then I see a painful expression on my daughter’s face as she clearly has a problem with sharing yet. Was I always trained to share and give up my things? I don’t remember when was the first time but I know there were many many times when I had to give up so someone else could feel better. Do I always let my daughters not to share? No. But I judge how hard it is for tehm and let them sometimes not share. After all these are their bikes or toys. But I am not allowing them to push another little one from the trike so she can have it back.
I guess, parenting is a really tough job. It seems it is a balancing act to encourage a right amount of sensitivity to ther people’s needs and blend it with a good amount of self-confidence and self-worthiness.