We are always role models. Every single moment of each and every day. Whether someone is watching or not. All our choices result in actions or inactions that other people are aware of, either at the time or later. If we have influence over another person, especially children, we need to acknowledge the impact our choices have on them.
We frequently fail to understand how much like our parents we are. Who always swore they’d never do something their mum did and then 20-30 years later say “I sound just like my mother!” and shudder? Of course we often examine that event and realise that our mum’s were actually right at the time. We may even tell her. What we also know upon that reflection is that our teenager (it is often a teenager that triggers it) will in all likelihood grow up okay because we did. Shouldn’t our ultimate goal though, to have our child grow up fully functional and able to realise their full potential? Just a thought.
What if you grew up in a time when the odd smack was administered? For those of us with odd smack parents we actually do NOT know how to parent in an alternative way. In a legal way. In fact many who grew up since smacking became illegal don’t know another way. This is part of the reason why we are compelled to ask our friends and families (except our mothers 🙂 ) how they manage or handle things. Of course we also then allow people to sit in judgement of us and our choices. Something you should always resist! Personally I recommend that you read. And read a wide variety and watch You Tube and parenting sites with vids. Find a style that suits you. There is no universal style, only one universal right, to be Nurtured and Loved. We have one single fundamental duty – to raise a child in loving kindness so that child may become an adult who is strong, independent, resilient and able to express and receive love.
What happens though when you had crappy role models? Firstly, let me say it is not okay to say “my dad gave me floggings and I turned out okay.” That is a cop out. Try and remember the little person (yes person!!) you were. Curled up in terror screaming and pleading not to be hit. There is NOTHING you could have done that was so bad to deserve being beaten! Especially by someone out of control in a violent rage.
What about me? Yes I smacked my children. Both of my daughters were smacked twice in their entire lives. My son was a different matter. He was smacked regularly, but not beaten, but that does not make it right. And I wish I had managed his behaviour in a different way because I know that one day my son may be tempted to smack his son, because that is what he learnt from me. I know now that you should never hit someone more than half your size, or anyone of any size for that matter. You are setting that person up to be a victim or a bully. Neither of which gives a rewarding life. And don’t think I didn’t justify what I did. I had rules. Never hit in anger. I would warn three times and then I would smack. I thought it was okay because I was hitting him with something ( a wooden spoon) not with the part of me that was meant to love and cuddle him.
Fortunately for me and my son I had a broad range of disciplines. I mainly taught him to sit in trees until he could calm down; a practice he utilises to this day. In fact it is what makes him so successful. Whenever he feels that hyperactive urge no matter what the meeting, or maybe because the meeting is so important, he just stands up and calls a meeting break. He pats his tummy and says, sorry bad curry. He goes to the bathroom and calms himself down. This gives him the edge because negotiations never get out of his control. I also put him into every sport I could and minimised junk food. In fact my kids thought slices of cucumber were mini wagon wheels (a chocolate treat in Australia) until they went to school. And on their school holidays I always found somewhere cheap and far away from the city to camp so that he could roam free and express himself. Although he did once get chased by a male kangaroo so he learnt not to roam too far or to hit golf balls at herds of kangaroos!
Mostly, we muddle through without considering the enormity of the role we have taken on. That is to give life to an individual. We must also remember that one day that individual will grow up and we cannot tell them what to do anymore. This is something that many people seem to have a great deal of difficulty with. I regularly see women telling, quite forcibly, their adult children how to live, where to live, and my personal favourites, when to have kids and how to raise them. Please remember you may make suggestions but you should never forcibly tell another person how to live. But that is a blog or seven for other days.
Talk again soon. Till then remember that your decisions are choices, they matter and you should own them! Even the bad ones.