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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Raising Children and Expectations

Raising Children. There is no harder task that I have been given in this life. My children have given me polar opposites
- Absolute Sheer Joy and A Love That I Can Physically Feel
- Absolute Feelings Of Helplessness and Despair

I just read my brothers blog and here is a link to his recent post. EXPECTATIONS from his blog The Soap Box Truth.

I left a fairly lengthy comment on there and decided to pursue this topic further.

I have three children that are all grown up now. Well in age they are adults. But each one is at a different place in there lives and it seems that the last one (18) is coming first and the first one (28) is still struggling to catch up and the middle one (26) is as invisable as ever.

I have struggled over the years with a guilt that has had the potential to overwhelm me. Actually in truth it has at times. I just hid it well. The guilt of not getting it right - this parenting thing. We hear the cliches of "parenting does not come with a manual" sort of things. My mother has constantly said to me over the years - You Did The Best With The Knowledge You Had At The Time.

But sometimes over the years I ache in my heart for all the wasted opportunities with my children as they grew and coming to terms with the fact that I was not an overly good parent. Not all my fault I know but it is something I have had to come to acknowledge. The world got in the way. The way we have to work such long hours ( a whole other post in my views on this alone) The way we are not truly supported in the community. Sometimes for people the lack of guidance from their own upbringing. I had a loving upbringing but I did learn some very bad habits that I then taught my children by default.

One of those things was that I never had the bar raised for me. I was loved unconditionally. I wasn;t expected to do too much around the house. I was allowed to live in my very special WENDY place and pretty much do whatever I could get away with. Luckily I have a strong fear of getting into trouble with the law so I was pretty much able to make sure I never got into that sort of trouble. But I realise as I write this that even though I have made some mistakes over my life that I had two parents that taught me by example the below things.

WORK - you simply have to go to work - I have always worked from the age of 12 years old with my first job collecting eggs on an egg farm.
MANNERS - I am never rude intentionally to someone and if I fall I apologise.
HONESTY - this includes not stealing as well as telling the truth
RESPECT - for others and others property
FAMILY STICKS TOGETHER - a strong belief that if you can't get all the family members in the house to respect each other then there is no hope for country's to be able to get on.

So even though some things I had to learn through life by stumbling through and learning as I go  I had a VERY STRONG BASE to build my life on. So I have learnt that just like what my parents did for me and my sister and brother I have done with my children. Even though they may make their mistakes I feel that under all of that is a strong foundation of the above things. They know them. It is up to them if they choose to make their descisions based on them.

AHHHH the fine line - the tight rope. I failed to raise the bar for my first two. And have learnt that whatever you put of because it is to hard emotionally will have to be dealt with one day. Procrastination buys you some time but not heart ache.

I have learnt that you have to learn to say NO and that the sooner you learn it the better of you are. You have to learn to turn your back when it is required and ALLOW your children to learn a lesson for themselves. By the time I got to my last one I had finally got some of these things clear in my head. I constantly reinforced what I expected of her at each stage she was at and then offered her a clear choice with consequences that I made sure she had had to deal with. I am only just doing this now with my eldest because I put it of and he also was a very slow learner. Not just academicly but in learning lifes lessons. I actually have had to literally turn my back and walk away so that he can choose his own path and have had to come to the realisation that I cannot carry him any further. I am trusting in God now and that is all I can do.

I have learnt that middle child syndrom is real. I have a middle son who has learnt to be invisible. He is easy going. He is soft and caring. But he is insular and all the years I have left this one just go about his business because he doesn't and hasn't caused me too much trouble now have to be dealt with. If I want a relationship with him I have to work on it and now deal with any of the procrastinations I have done in the past. It truly does come around.

Believe me - whatever you put of today will have to be dealt with sooner or later and often times it is so much harder later on.

But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my children all love me and LIKE me as well. Somethings I got right.

But I have learnt that leading by example is really the only way to totally follow through.

If you want kind children - you have to be kind yourself.

If you want your child to be friendly, helpful, well mannered, confident - then the flip side is that you must teach these things from example.

As you have mentioned - society will usually teach the opposite and I have found through all the thick and thin of life that by being a constant guide and a constant source of what is right will always win out in the long run.

Raising the bar - as I call it - is of the utmost importance. Lowering the bar so that the child can jump through hoops easily will do them no favours. On the other hand this takes a lot of constant vigilent supervising and understanding of where they are at emotionally and intellectually at any given time.

Working out the balance may never be exact - the balance of time out and free thinking time along with down time balanced with the hard slog head down sort of attitude we want them to have.

And that is hard work. So again your example of never giving up on them and expecting the best from them while supporting and listening and doing our utmost to understand them is of so much importance.

All easier said than done. I admit.

Your comments are welcome. Maybe something you have to add would be of help to others. So share.

One of things I didn't have or pursue while my children grew up was a strong support network of other families with children. I never spoke to others about parenting and asking for ideas. I had my two boys so young that all my friends didn't start having children until mine were nearly grown up. I encourage my daughter to build a strong network of other parents with other children the same age as her little one. You don't have to do everything the same as them but you do need friends that can listen and work things through with.

Thanks for reading,



  1. WoW .. I'm going to have to read all that again I think .. I certainly taped a nerve there didn't I.

    Love Ya Heaps Sis

  2. Laugh..... Just a topic that I can speak strongly about because of my experiences. Obviously framed from my point of view but I would bet a million dollars that there are soooo many others out there in the world with similar views. We are not encouraged in our society to discuss the hard elements and the truths on parenting and we are given a false impression of the airy fairy good stuff and brush the hard stuff under the carpet. See You tomorrow, Wendy

  3. Lovely post as usual Wendy. As Andrew said...lots to think about. XX

  4. Cheers Kerry. Have not been online for over a week. Yes it touched a raw nerve and got me thinking.

  5. Very important words. I think parenting is the hardest job there is and I worry a lot about doing the right thing. I also think that your point about things which are not dealt with initially rearing their heads later is true not just with parenting but of just about any relationship, as I'm learning now.

    Thanks for your comment over on Sleepless Nights. Was hoping to email you. Andrew has my email.

    - Wanderlust