I hope I’m not the only one but things have REALLY changed since my childhood. I don’t just mean technology but the world in general. Although I feel most of the changes society has undergone is for the better, it goes without saying that it presents new challenges to parents.
As parents I guess our abilities to bring up children stem in large part from our childhood experiences and upbringing. I often reflect on what I liked and didn’t like from the way my mother and father parented. For example, I loved the way my dad will explain why we would be in trouble and hardly ever lost the plot. This is something that I have adapted and modified in the way that I deal with my daughter when she doesn’t behave. On the other hand, I hated how strict my mother was and how scared I was of her. This is something that I never wanted to do but I must admit I always valued that the way my mom was as it led me to behaving really well. In many ways I have become a strict parent with clear guidelines which are negotiable and agreed upon with my daughter (now that she is old enough).
The older my daughter gets the tougher parenting becomes… not because she is naughty or misbehaves but because I am faced with different questions from the ones I asked when I was a child, questions that I don’t always know the answer to. I do worry that perhaps my opinions are not open enough to give my daughter an impartial answer. The world and its ethics, boundaries, views, opinions constantly evolving and old ways of thinking are always being challenged. Honestly, sometimes I find it tough keeping up and having a well-rounded opinion.
Before I move on to my current challenges let me take you back to my childhood in sunny old school Colombia. I grew from a small town (not a village), there was a buzz and warmth to it. I grew up mainly with my grandparents, aunties and uncles for two reasons initially we lived 5 doors away and then we moved in with everyone because my family loved to stay together!
This was all great and our early childhood was lovely, surrounded by people and music! However, the older we got there was a clear structure and hierarchy between men and women, not that my sister and I were directly impacted or maybe I was not aware of the impact. Men went to work and did everything separate from women. My grandma and aunties went to church and of course we did too…. No questions asked! In fact, the rules were very clear from a young age You do not question adults or people in authority!
My dad was very hands on dad for a Colombian man, most Colombian men at the time struggled to do anything other than go to work, get fed, watch football and drink beer, my dad did none of these things. Instead he took great care of our education and we had strict time tables, I loved it! I was a geek.
My sister and I were very lucky we had loads of space to play in and be free and the weather wasn’t too bad either! We had the freedom to choose how to play. I actually hated playing outside, I used to hide under the bed with books or Barbie! My sister would play outside under supervision from my aunties. The biggest issue we faced was boys – we couldn’t talk to boys! My grandad would chase them away!!
I remember so clearly; my mind was filled with dreams and books… I grew up in a part of the world, at a time where questioning did not exist and many things were ‘simpler.’ I listened to my parents, my elders, my teachers and knew boundaries and rules were not to be broken.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way saying that was better. I’m just saying it was different and makes parenting for me a fun challenge. I have really learned to appreciate the importance of questioning and the authenticity derived from being able to express ourselves from a young age without feeling constrained.
So, without further ado, here are my top three parenting challenges right now:
- Gender neutrality:
Hear me out, this is everywhere and it can be confusing!
I know I was born in a country where there was a clear distinction between men and woman (something that I had always had an issue with) and this is very likely to impact the way I see this issue. However, my daughter used to ask me why a boy would wear a skirt and I would reply because he wants to, just like her wearing tracksuit bottoms BUT this question evolved to- is it right that a boy is wearing a skirt? I wasn’t expecting it! I didn’t know what to say… but the questions kept coming… does it mean he wants to be a girl?
On many occasions when discussing love, she tells me that it doesn’t matter if you love a man or a woman and of course this is true… but I am waiting for more questions, statements! I don’t avoid what she says… However, I still don’t know what to say… so currently I listen and think…
A blessing and a curse!!! I know I can’t be the only one with a child that would happily spend their day on the iPad, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch or in front of the TV…. Please tell me I’m not the only one?! So, Friday after school is when my daughter can start to use her electronic gadgets BUT she has time limits… and when she’s out of time… oh the grumpiness!!! Sometimes it’s like she’s forgotten those songs about being nice we used to sing together!
I often feel a little bad, because my daughter is not allowed to use electronics from Sunday afternoon – Friday when she returns from school (unless it is for educational reasons and I check!) and it appears that all her friends can… and she can feel left out, but I am going to stick to this rule and deal with the back-chat, grumpiness and that cute little face!
- Too much choice:
Maybe this is just me. I tend to ask my daughter’s opinion, I like to give her a choice wherever possible. I think it gives her practice for later on in life and I hope it gives her confidence to trust her decisions and instinct. The downside is I can envision that very soon my daughter will like options and choice in every aspect of her life and I don’t know if I’m ready for that!!!
While I know there are bigger issues, the above three are my current biggest issues! I can’t wait to start telling you all how I start to deal with them 🙂
Until next time, stay kind, positive and beautiful