Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My view on parenting

For most of my life, I've been "eh" about most things. Of course, I have my personal political views (left), but I try not to talk about them outside of my husband and work--both of which think the same way I do. I don't find it a productive use of time to talk about them elsewhere. But for the most part, I'm not opinionated on most things. To each his or her own. Now if a friend is about to do something stupid, I might say something ("Have you thought about looking at it this way?"). If someone asks my advice, I might give advice.

I find it interesting that one area where I definitely have opinions is parenting. I have rather deep, passionate opinions on how to raise my child. I recognize that my way might not be the "right" way, and all parents are trying to raise happy, successful children. There are many paths to take to get there; I realize that.

My parents were lackluster in certain areas (aren't all parents?), but my mother was superlative in others. She raised me to be very resourceful and completely independent (not sure that was by design) with a strong work ethic. I follow through on the commitments I make with rare exception, and I try to be very reliable. Upon entering the work world, I realized how rare these qualities are in a world where people drop out at the last minute, miss deadlines, are unorganized to the point of not reading important emails, etc. My motto of "show up prepared," which I thought was a given for everyone, isn't universally practiced. And I think a huge part of where I am today is because I show up prepared, far more than any skills I have. While I probably don't need to raise my daughter to be as independent as I am, I think it's important to instill a strong work ethic and reliability for the dividends it will pay in her life. So I am a bit…overzealous when it comes to that.

I don't believe in monetary/"thing" rewards. I try to instill that the psychological feeling of success is better than getting money or "things" for accomplishments. For instance, she has weekly spelling words at school. Some parents give their kids money or toys if they got all their words right, especially back in the beginning of the year. I thought to myself that it would be a difficult weekly reward to maintain, and wasn't the goal for her to enjoy learning for the sake of learning instead of for the reward? So I'm the parent who says "good job" and that's it.

The new thing seems to be surprising your kids with a vacation (perhaps to that huge moneymaker that starts with a "D") and missing school. Parents are renting billboards (I kid you not) to announce the surprise to their kids. To each his or her own, I say.

With a bit of trepidation, we're going to that "D" place in August. She has started asking about it since so many of her friends have gone, and I do think she's old enough to really enjoy it. Why crowded August? Because I do not want to show her by my actions that missing school is acceptable to me. Sure, if her grandparent was on his or her deathbed or something like that, of course I'd make an exception because I do want to role model that people are more important than school. And as for announcement? We told her earlier this week that we're going in August. I'm looking forward to the anticipation she'll experience in the coming months, and we'll look at the park map and plan what order we'll see things in. She'll be part of the process. She's put the date on her calendar, and we're telling her that we'll be staying with family for part of it, and we're staying on the property for some of it. This is how I approach the whole thing, which is far different from how most other parents approach it. And that's okay.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

On Marriage

Now that my friend is married and has driven off into the sunset (or Oregon), I have slightly recovered from the whole bridesmaid experience and have had some time to reflect on marriage.

I didn't want to get married when I was little. I envisioned a life of work, a few girlfriends and dating. Perpetual dating -- with a new guy every few months. And then I got married when I just turned 22, go figure.

Marriage is one of those common words that we use for something so universally different. My marriage with my husband is completely different than it would be with anyone else. His marriage with me is different than it would be with anyone else. "Marriage" sounds like it's in this exclusive club, which it isn't. I think "marriage" can be synonymous for any long-term relationship.

I didn't have any words of advice for the bride. I've been married for 15 years, and I couldn't come up with anything. How can I give her words of advice when she's in a unique relationship? Although hers is more complicated because he has two children from a prior marriage. There are things she will have to navigate that are legitimately more difficult. I'm not sure she has really wrapped her head around the concept that she's a stepmother to these kids, and that will truly be a learning experience. Parenthood is complicated enough without being dropped in the middle of it when the kids are already in grade school.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thoughts Soon

Slammed at work. Wedding prep has been taking up the rest of my time.

Hope to get caught up on work and will be back soon.