If you're over fifty, chances are you aren't raising children. They are likely grown up and gone. Maybe they are raising children. If they are, it's likely, they are raising your grandchildren in the same fashion you raised them. Let me ask you a question: who taught you how to raise children? No doubt, your experience in this area stems from your childhood. You raised your children the same way you were raised. You disciplined them in the same manner; you tried to set the same values and raise them on the ethical beliefs that were instilled upon you in your early years.
Did ya' do good?
I'm not sure I did.
When I was a young man, and my first wife and I had our son, we raised him based on these beliefs that were passed down to us from our parents. When we were children, we believed that our parents had the answers to everything. If we raised our children in the same fashion, what could be wrong with that? Well... the answer is: there could be a lot wrong with that...
I don't believe in perfect people. Never did. I look back over the last 50+ years and can see the mistakes I've made -- mistakes with careers, mistakes with people, and even mistakes with my kids. And even though I thought my parents were perfect, maybe they were just regular people like me -- who didn't have all the answers to all of the questions in the universe. Who knows? Maybe they made their fair share of mistakes too. And God forbid! Maybe their parenting wasn't perfect.
My daughter was very young, and I was working mostly night-shifts at a mill. This was about the same time I was just getting started on building my business. On the night-shift there was only one other fellow besides myself, and I learned to appreciate his quick wit, intelligence, and his sense of purpose. He shared with me, stories of his father beating him with a belt when he was young. He said, "If I have ever have children, they will definitely not be raised the way I was." It was he, who suggested to me, that parents weren't perfect... we didn't have to raise our children the same way we were raised, and that we were free to make our own rules, and follow our hearts to use our best judgement. And, by shifting our own behaviour and thinking, we could make sure that our children would have a better guideline for raising our grandchildren.
These discussions on this topic, with my co-worker, continued on-and-off, for a couple of months. My son, to my first wife, often got a licking (just like I did when I was little) as a means of discipline. But when I was having these discussion at work, I was already married a second time and we had a daughter. She was very young at this time, but after bringing up these ideas to my wife it was agreed we would find another way to discipline her.
I was inspired to write this post after reading The Rules of Parenting by Richard Templar. I don't think anyone has all the answers but his book certainly offers some really great ideas to pass on to my children on raising my grandchildren. By the way, the Kindle version of the book is free today as part of an Amazon promotion. Richard said, about this book:
"There are lots of wrong ways to bring up your kids, but there are lots of right ones, too. There's no list of instructions you have to follow to the letter if you don't want your child to end up a loser. The Rules of Parenting presents the principles to follow which you can adapt to suit you and your children. Beginning with the first rule "Relax" and continuing through 100 rules, this book presents a guide to everything a parent needs to know from toddling, school, boyfriends or girlfriends, through driving lessons and college. The book begins with a section that covers the most important rules, The Rules for Staying Sane. The rest of the sections cover the some of the big questions of parenting, including the Attitude Rules, the Discipline Rules, the Sibling Rules, the School Rules, the Teenage Rules, the Crisis Rules, all the way up to the Grown-up Rules."
If you were to print the book off, it's about 275 pages long, so I wasn't able to go through the whole thing today, but I scanned through a lot of it. It offers some really great ideas on the subject of parenting, and I wish I had read it years ago when I was raising my own.
It would be nice if we could get in a time machine and go back and fix all of our stupid mistakes. Especially so, for our children's sake! But maybe it isn't too late to pass on some good advice. Although caution is urged on how to present it. They aren't as impressionable as they once were.
Presentation is everything! One of the smartest men I ever had the chance to work with, would present the problem and ask me for my idea on how to resolve it. When I offered an answer, I could see he was honestly evaluating it. His reply would often follow this structure:
I think that's a good idea, Steve. But I'm wondering about... (and then he would mention a part of the puzzle I hadn't thought of). How about if we approached it this way.....
One of two things would happen then. Either I would have a solution (which was very seldom) to the hole in my theory, or I could see the brilliance in his plan, and we would opt to do it that way. But you see... he valued my opinion, and then presented a better plan that we could agree upon. Although... and I humbly submit, there was the odd time we went with my plan with a few modifications (ha -ha).
Of course, each one of you, I'm sure, has already figured out how to present your grown children with new ideas. You have learned how to approach them without confrontation, I hope. You have to be careful of where you "stick your nose in" so it doesn't get bitten off. It isn't like you can "turn them over your knee" for not listening any more....
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