Monday, November 11, 2013


We are always very grateful when people tell us what great children we have.  Even though they have just clocked over 38 and 40 years old and have families of their own, we still think of them as our 'kids'.  Some have told us we are just lucky that they didn't cause us any grief in their teen years.  Our response to that was that there was no luck involved and that it was a lot of hard work!

On reflection I must say that we did not always make the best parenting decisions.  We did make mistakes.  We were not always consistent and I confess to letting my frustration turn into some pretty unfair discipline at times.  But our kids survived it all and fortunately they do not seem to remember the mistakes we made as readily as they recall the fun holidays, projects, hobbies, friends, trips, studies, goals, aspirations and successes that have turned them into the fine individuals and parents they are today.

Sometimes we chastise ourselves too much.  All I can say is that, in our case, our positive actions must have outweighed the negative ones, because our kids have turned out to be great parents to their own children.

If we had our time over again there are some things we would have put in place when we first had children that would have avoided some of those inconsistencies I mentioned.

1. Even though we had strong values in our heads, we should have written them down and agreed
    together what priority we would have made each one.
2. To prevent inconsistencies in disciplinary decisions, we would decide and stand together on the
    type and level of consequence for particular infringements.
3. I would be more aware of potential squabbles the children had and divert their attention before the
    arguments escalated.
4. I would instill the 'count to 25' rule before responding to an issue with the kids.  That way I would
    be in better control of my frustration.
5. I would admit my mistake to my kids when my response was inappropriate and apologize to them.
    (It is not a sign of weakness to say you are sorry to your children.  It shows them that we all make
    mistakes and that apologizing is the right, fair and mature thing to do.  Of course, being sorry is
    evidenced in the fact that we change our behavior).

Take heart!  Kids are robust!  We don't get to practice parenting until we have kids and we often
make decisions 'on the fly' that are not particularly fair.  This is where we are likely to make the wrong
response.  With preparation, practice, acknowledging our lack of good judgement and repairing the
damage, we can be pretty confident that the smudges do come out of the clothes.  In other words, it
will come out in the wash.

Written by Sally Burgess


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