Our children come with no instruction manual, but everyone has advice, from the very experienced grandparent, to the single friend with no children. Add to the mix adults who can’t agree, sometimes within a family, and child raising is a real challenge. Some believe children should be left to find their own way, and learn from their own mistakes. Other people believe the job of a parent is to direct and guide the child toward proper behavior and achievement in life.
A neighbor’s son nearly got hit by my mother-in-law when he drove his Big Wheel down his drive and into the street in front of her car. His parents never knew that it was a set of good breaks enthusiastically applied that saved their son from certain death. The world is full of dangers, and as these dangers have presented themselves, a lifetime of research and legislation have tried to remove many of the dangers from children’s lives. Children are now restrained in the back seat of cars, and will never know the joy of sitting in the front with Mom or Dad. Playgrounds have wood-chips, or rubber mats to give soft surfaces for tiny bodies to fall upon without injury. Leashes, once frowned upon, no longer elicit dirty looks from other adults. Helmets and pads protect children in a variety of activities, which are often structured and with adult supervision. Even with these protections, parents still worry every second over their children.
Parents should worry every second, and when they get old enough, our children let us know every mistake we have made. Children need to come with a customized manual because they are all different. Some children are naturally compliant, and others are very determined to have their way. Happy and easy-going children can live in the same family as sensitive, defensive, and teary children.
Children show their tendencies very early. I would say I knew something about each of my children’s personality in-utero. One child did flips in the confined space, another stretched out pushing so hard I thought he might pop himself out, and the third was dancing for long stretches at a time.
It is a parent’s job to protect a child from danger, teach a child how to behave in an acceptable manner, learn how to treat others, and how to defer immediate gratification for worthy goals. But children want what they want, and they want it now! Does this obvious frustration of their childish desires cause damage to their emotional development? Is this correction from parents, teachers, and society going to destroy the self-confidence of our children, chaining them with self-doubt and self-loathing to handicap them for their entire lives? Good God I hope not.
My inner child still wants what she wants, only in place of her dolls, are my adorable grandchildren. My inner child cries, screams, and stamps her feet that my children don’t live near me, and I can’t see them every week. I still want things I haven’t worked for, and wish I could just go play and not do my work. This is nobody’s fault. This is just how children are, and that is perfectly okay. I am an adult now, and understand how things work, and that I can’t have everything just the way I want it. But I also have the freedom and a car to make a trip when I really need some one-on-one time with my babies.
Thank goodness I have enough maturity to have a little self-discipline.