Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Friday, May 27, 2005

Rehearsing Adulthood

Isn't it cute how kids practice being adults through play? Take my boys for example, always playing sword fights or make believe. They're rehearsing for the real thing when they'll have to protect and provide for their family.

I remember when I was a little girl. I had this raggedy old doll named Laura. On cold winter nights I remember crawling into bed with her and cuddling her tight under the blankets, warming her cold plastic appendages. It didn't matter so much if I was cold as long as I could warm her. Fast forward two decades and you'll find me doing that same thing with my real baby. Whenever I take him out of the bath he knows the routine: I wrap him in towel and carry him to bed where I wrap us up tightly in blankets, cuddle him close and breastfeed him. It's so bonding.

I remember my first grade best friend got an expensive realistic looking doll. I wanted one so badly. I never got it; but I smile now when I think that I've got something even better.

When I was little my parents wouldn't let me play with barbies. They thought they protrayed a bad female image to young girls. I whole heartedly agree. Instead I had plenty of baby dolls and doll-house dolls. I don't know how much that shaped me into who I am, but the principal is right. I can't help but think that it may have contributed positively. I am raising a big family now, after all. And I've never had too much of a problem with body image.

Certainly, I grew up in a family where motherhood was valued. We recently found a picture I drew at a very young age. The assignment was to draw a job mommies do. I drew a stick-figure-ish drawing of a mom having a baby and that was the caption "Jobs mom's do: have babies". How cute is that?

There are a number of things I do differently then my parents. I don't want you to think that I blindly copy how my parents raised me. Nor should you think I was raised in a perfect household. (I wasn't). For instance, while my parents forbid all celebrating of Holloween; I have looked to alternative celebrations -leading a church "Harvest Party" for four years and allowing my kids to dress up in positive dress-up costumes. Also, I was just reminiscing with my brother and dad recently on the fact that our "birds and bees" talk left room for improvement.

I also don't want you to think that I think I'm raising my kids perfectly. Like the title of this blog says , I'm "Trying to raise my kids the best I can". I'm sure my kids will come up with a nice list of things I did wrong raising them. But I'll just nod my head as they read the list to me and stuff the grandkids' faces with cookies.

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I can't leave the topic of childhood play without touching on the subject of "over-scheduling", which we all know is a huge problem these days. Of course I'm against it. You just have to fight the inner urge to do it and remind yourself that your child will not be disadvantaged for not taking (fill in the blank) lessons. It's so much more important to develop a cohesive family and learn things together. I mean, some lessons are fine, but like all things in life: moderation is the key.

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  • At 11:38 PM, Blogger Ben Meyer said…

    allowing my kids to dress up in positive dress-up costumes.

    Dress up should not be something that is limited by parents wishing to impose their adult beliefs. Dress up is a way for children to have fun and explore adult roles without the consequence of being an adult. I love the story of the kid who for Halloween he wore a pink princess dress, but when asked what he was replied "Digimon". The mom had a great picture of him dressed like a princess but wielding a light saber, claiming he was "Princessmon". Part of being a child is being able to learn through exploration. A parent will see a almost always see costumes in a completely different light then the child ever could. Children really need to be able to explore all aspects of society before they are adults when such openness is punished. If they want to be Dark Vader, a parent might see it as being evil while a kid sees it as getting to make the cool breathing sounds. You honestly don't really know. But by telling the kid that they aren't allowed to explore roles (fantasy, gender, age) is potentially harmfull long term as it teaches them that you disapprove of who they are. The parents are really the only ones that have the problem, not the children. The parents fear that other parents will look down on them.

    I know a number of women who are in computer science and as children were practically punished by there parents for playing with "boy toys". The parent were so obsessed with getting their child to fit societies mold for a girl that they would prevent her from reaching per potential until many years later when she was able to rebel.

  • At 12:10 AM, Blogger Deena said…

    I said "positive dress up" as opposed to ghoolish costumes like witches, horror movie masks, etc. which go against our religious beliefs.


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