Confessions of a Non-Extreme ParentJeannette Kaplun
For some reason, we love labels, especially when it comes to parenting styles. Helicopter parents, tiger moms, and extreme parenting are just a few. I have never been able to identify with any. I guess I’m not trendy — perhaps even a bit boring.
As I confessed to other Babble Voices bloggers, I am not an adventurous mom nor am I even close to edgy. I don’t pay much attention to parenting trends. I try to do the best I can when parenting my kids, I read a lot to try to make informed decisions, and when I make a mistake, I own up to it.
I’m all about teaching lessons to my kids every single time I can and I avoid sugar-coating things. To me, that’s as basic as parenting can get. Even my son makes fun of me because I constantly say that life isn’t fair. I also insist they don’t need to like everybody but they do need to respect others regardless of whether they like them or not. On the other hand, I also remind them not everybody else will like them either.
Parenting for me is about giving your children the tools they will need for life. I try to be as involved as I can be but without taking over, because I know they have to be able to make decisions on their own.
Tolerance and respecting diversity, for example, are essential from my point of view so as a family we value new experiences and the chance to expand our horizons. On our trips to Peru and Chile, my children have seen how other kids grow up, without many of the comforts they had taken for granted. They’ve learned to understand that special needs children react differently to things, to understand differences and that if they see cruelty, to defend the weak and report what they saw to an adult.
But I’ve never been able to use extreme tactics to teach a lesson. The most “extreme” thing I’ve probably done is let my daughter cry out her temper tantrums in her room. Or let her ride on the water slide by herself as soon as she met the height requirement.
I waited until my son was 9 years old to let him ride the school bus. I’m not even contemplating sleepaway camp in the near future. I’ve never spanked my kids although time outs and punishments are not rare in my home.
I’m not a wimp. I might let my daughter sleep in our bed sometimes but she knows it’s a special treat. We don’t drink soft drinks at home, only if it’s a special occasion. They know how good manners are important to me and I am not scared of my children or of trying to do the right thing. Instead of adopting one rigid set of parenting rules, we adapt to what feels right for our family.
I probably avoid extreme measures because I firmly believe in do unto others as you would have them do to you. I don’t enjoy violence of any kind, or being exposed to certain experiences that make me cringe. So I guess that means I won’t have my kids live through those things until they want to go through them (or don’t really have a choice).
And you know what? It’s fine by me. They are learning values. I expose them to diverse cultures. They are learning that I have high expectations of them. They also are learning every single day that my love is unconditional even if they let me down. Because I will be here to tell them what they did wrong and what can be done to make it better or at least learn from their mistakes. But most important of all, I want to make them feel I trust them to make their own choices in life, hopefully guided by the values they will learn inside our family during the years we have with them before they take off to live their lives as independent beings.
I will always be respectful of the choices each family makes for their children. However, in this era of labels, I guess I’m just a non-extreme parent. Is anybody else on the same boat as I am?
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