Parenting or Punishment?

January 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm 2 comments

A little reminder of why I do this. The premise is simple. You donate to a childrens charity and comment on this blog about the donation and what you wanted to be when you were 8. Want to know more? Please read the About Lesley page….

I read an article a couple of weeks ago on child-rearing. Amy Chua is an unabashed ‘Tiger Mother’. Four hours of homework/practice daily and total control of the day-to-day activities of her children. It works for her, her children are high achievers and we all want our children to fulfill their potential, even stretch themselves to make that potential soar. However, Amy’s style is not and will never be mine.

However, it got me thinking about parenting ‘styles’. A business it its own right, it isn’t easy to get overall figures on revenue but one of the most popular books, Dr. Spock’s baby and Child Care book has sold 50 million copies in 49 languages. Another best-seller is Gina Ford whose methods would appear to differ from Dr. Spock. I have read neither but know that both have huge fan-bases as well as dectractors. From a cursory glance I would have more in common with Dr. Spock’s methods.

There are many new parents out there who feel they need help to raise their children and there will likely be a book that can match their core beliefs and styles. As families spread out geographically I can see a need to have support from books, healthcare professionals and the like. I happily confess that I have never read a child-rearing book, I learned it all the practical way. I am one of nine children, eldest girl, middle child. When I was young there were always babies and I learned how to play with a toddler very early on. I also learned mothering skills from my mother. She was and is a wonderful parent; she had nine children then studied for her degree. If you want to know the value of hard work in my family you just look at my parents. They also taught me one of the best things I know, that words are the stuff of life. I am lucky that they are both still with me, even if they take my money playing poker on a Friday night….

I do not claim to be a great parent but I have been the best parent I could. If I boil down my parenting style it would be something like this:-

  • A routine for a baby is a good thing. However, there are times when a routine cannot be applied. Yes, a baby may cry for a few minutes before sleep but a distressed cry is different from a tired, ready to sleep cry. You will know the difference and you will know they need lifted for food, cuddles, whatever is required.
  • I remember being told that you shouldn’t look in the eyes of a baby when feeding during the night so they knew this was a quiet time. What tosh! How can you not make eye contact with the loveliest thing in the world?
  • Babies and toddlers need love, laughter and play. Fun is good for everyone and everyone should play with their children.
  • All children need to learn the meaning of losing. The notion that you cannot have a sports day so that children feel like failures is just ludicrous, to be honest it makes my blood boil. You can participate, have fun without winning and children need to learn this. There is some prevalence to the notion that children should never feel as if they fail; this myth is being perpetuated. I am not saying that any child is a failure but few excel at everything. Children are not stupid, when they are told they are awesome at something they know they struggle with they will get confused. Grown-up life has rejection, in relationships, in exams, in the job market. If losing a sack race at school gets you ready to deal with this isn’t that a good thing?
  • In the same vein everyone needs to learn the meaning of ‘no’. I have heard of parent’s being advised not to use the word to their children as it has ‘negative connotations’. This makes my teeth hurt. The word no is important. If a child gets everything they want all the time their expectations are set. There is nothing wrong with learning that a new game must be earned’ that pocket money earned from doing small chores can be saved to buy that game. My kids always felt very proud when they could buy some longed-for item with their own money. That sense of achievement was worth it to them.
  • Eating together makes a family. This doesn’t happen so much in my house now as they are all grown-ups and focused on work, going out, seeing friends and that is how it should be. However, it was always a rule when they were smaller that we sat together to eat dinner most of the time. There would be rows but there was also a lot of laughter. When we do go out as a family to eat it is still the same, a vast amount of mickey-taking but a heap of laughter to boot. It is rarer than I would like but I always enjoy it, even when I am the butt of the jokes. You should all know that I have no life and when I was young I had no idea how to party. I do not correct that myth, some things are better kept in my head:)
  • I save the most important one for last. Children need to know they are loved and supported. Smiling, talking, telling your children you love them is important. Even when they are getting right on your nerves and you are having a row they need to know you love them. I hope mine know it every day because that is true every second of every day.

My last thought on this. The reason that everyone loves to see the You-Tube videos of ‘talking’ twins and laughing babies is that the sound of a child’s laughter is the sweetest sound on earth.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.


Entry filed under: Child rearing, Childhood, Children, Donating, Giving, Life, wheniwas8. Tags: , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ladymaryan  |  January 8, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Lesley, you surely have a good and reliable parental intuition and a lack of this intuition cannot be compensated by reading a book.

    There are parents, who cannot tell why their baby is crying. They do not know and understand that eye-contact is essential for a baby’s well-being and a secure attachment with their parents. They almost never had family meals in their childhood, so how should they know that these are important? Their children are missing out on love and affection and they won’t learn how to raise their own offspring with love.

    There are parents who don’t say “no”, but they have very high expectations and already the toddler has to endure an enourmous pressure.

    We pass on to our children what we experienced ourselves in our childhood. It is my daily work to help these parents break the vicious circle. It is often frustrating, but I’m happy about each ever so small step they take into the right direction.

    Thank you for this post. Being a parent isn’t easy and those of us, who had loving and caring parents should never take them for granted.

    I’m looking forward to reading your next post.

    Claudia xx

    • 2. when i was 8 i wanted to be....  |  January 10, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Claudia,

      As ever, I write, you do:)

      I know that the changes in society over the last four decades have changed the structure of families. We don’t live in the next street from our parents any more, many mothers, like myself, have worked throughout their childrens’ lives. We don’t have the inbuilt structures from family so easily and can often feel bamboozled by the amount of information thrown at us. It is more difficult for some and I sometimes wish that people would trust their instincts more. It is easy to love a child and love and care are what a young child needs most.

      Simple perhaps but many truths are….

      Lesley xx


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