Sunday, 2 May 2004

reaping my rewards as a mother

had i known that the conversation with my daughter that followed would have ended up as one that i would remember for the rest of my life, i would have paid much more attention to how the conversation started  
i believe my daughter and i  were watching TV and a commercial showed a grandmother interacting with her grandchildren .. or maybe it was some TV show we were watching  
my daughter turned to me and asked me if i was going to treat her children "like that" .. i wasn't really paying attention to whatever was on TV so i answered her "your children are going to love me !" and of course thinking to myself because i would let them get away with all the stuff that i couldn't let my own children get away with  
her question caught me completely off guard .. first of all she's only 13 years old and i didn't know 13 year olds think about having children .. second, i have to confess that planning for the future isn't one of my strong points .. instead i live day to day .. moment to moment .. what am i cooking for dinner and do i have enough gas in my car to get to work tomorrow are more my speed .. i haven't ever given any thought to having grandchildren some day .. its always seemed so far into the future that it wasn't worth giving much thought to (like i don't have enough head noise eh !!)  
my daughter was qualifying her question to me .. "what i mean mom, is are you going to let them make most of their own decisions like you let us?"  
now she really had my attention .. sure .. i have tried to teach my children how to make decisions and from an early age, how to consider consequences when making any decision .. but i've known that trying to teach my children something i think is valuable is much different than teaching something *they* think is valuable .. apparently my daughter and i agree on this one  
so i assured her that yes, i would also teach her children how to make good decisions .. she smiled and told me something that i'm taking the time to write in my journal since it ranks way up there in things i never want to forget  
"mom .. i want to raise my children like you've raised us but i don't think i know how to teach them the important things .. would you help me raise my children?"  
my tears were immediate and my beautiful little girl assumed she hurt my feelings .. i had to laugh and assure her that it was quite the opposite .. never in my life have i gone to my own parents for advice on how to raise my children .. sure, i learned valuable lessons from my parents on raising children by the way i was raised .. sadly, what i learned from my own parents were lessons on how NOT to raise children  
that at the age of 13, when i know 99% of the time my daughter is convinced i was put on this planet to keep her from having any fun and making her life completely unbearable she'd be asking for MY help raising her own children .. ahhhhhh .. i can't think of anything she could have done to let me know that maybe, just maybe, i'm on the right parenting track  
my parents raised their own kids by sheltering us .. refusing to believe anything we had to say was worth giving consideration to .. never once teaching us about consequences and how to make decisions .. when my son was young i was determined to raise my children differently  
and we started small  
snacks have always been kept within their reach .. they made their own decision on when it was appropriate to have a snack .. with the warning that if i felt they were continually ruining their appetite for meals, i'd be making the decision instead  
they were never given any limits on how much time they could play nintendo .. unless i felt they couldn't control themselves and i'd make the decision for them  
some privileges they learned in little steps .. giving them the opportunity to show me they were responsible .. when both of my children felt they needed a key to the house, they were given a worthless key to hold on to for 2 weeks .. if they didn't lose it .. they got a real key  
they've never had a set bedtime .. or a set homework time .. when i felt they weren't getting enough sleep or weren't getting their homework done, they were threatened with having me make the decision for them  
i remember i had a similar conversation with my son when he was 14 .. i have never expected my children to appreciate the way they're raised .. yet 5 years ago my son was completely aware that he was raised differently than most of his friends .. "mom, when my friends make a mistake and get into trouble, their parents take away the privilege forever.  but you just take it away for a little while and let me show you that i've learned and you give me another chance." 
when my children make bad decisions, we talk afterwards about a decision they could have made that would have had better consequences  
their punishment? the consequence of their bad decision of course  
i guess kinda like life eh?

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