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I will preface this piece letting you lovely people know that I love my parents. In fact, since becoming a parent I love them even more.
I like to think that I was a relatively easy kid to raise, but that doesn't mean my parents didn't have their stresses. I mean, my goodness: keeping a kid alive, healthy and somewhat satisfied is damn hard. Add in your own health, financial ups and downs, marraige, other children and whatever life throws at you and it's like, just how do parents do it all without going crazy?
While I know my parents did the best they could, I've quickly realized that I will be raising my kids a liiiiittle differently in these three ways. (No offense, Mom and Dad.)
1. I'll listen more
I grew up in one of those homes where, if you were a kid, your opinion didn't matter so much. Anyone under 18 who wasn't contributing to household expenses really couldn't voice opinions about punishments or share thoughts on things that happened.
"But why?" I remember always asking.
"Because I said so!" my parents would say.
I find that, while this approach may hush up a kid, it puts a lock on so many discussions. It lets kids know, "Hey, you're small and your opinion doesn't matter." That doesn't feel good as an adult, so I know it doesn't feel good to a 5-, 12- or 17-year-old. As long as they are respectful, I plan to be the kind of parent that listens to her children. After all, they may provide a perspective that I didn't even consider.
2. I'll talk more
My parents weren't always easy to talk to. Most of what I learned regarding hygiene, sex, drugs and dating came from school and other kids my age. Scary much?
Someone hold me to this: I certainly hope to be a little more in tune with my kids' desires.
My parents' answers to most of the above was simply, "Don't do it." I'm sorry but that wasn't enough for my inquisitive little, and teenage, mind. Why couldn't I shave my legs at 11? When can I wear a bra? Why shouldn't I do drugs if a friend asks? I wanted more discussion from my parents. I valued them and respected them and wanted to honor their wishes. But, man, trying to get them to really talk about those topics was like drawing water from a rock. It just wasn't happening.
My kids won't have to worry about this. Their biggest issue will be getting me to shut up about said topics. I'll get their thoughts and opinions, tell them mine and really make an effort to talk to them about some of those tougher issues. I'll try very hard to remember what it was like to be their age and refrain from going off should they think things like the Kylie Jenner challenge is cool.
I'll listen, but I'll also let them know what Mama thinks.
3. I'll be open-minded
Remember when I said I was a pretty easy going kid and teenager? I was. I made decent grades, hung out with good kids and was respectful. In fact, if my daughter ended up being the teenager that I was, I'd be OK with that.
So then why were my parents so incredibly uptight about everything? Dye my hair purple? Absolutely not. Go on a supervised date? Nope. Pool party? In my dreams. I thought that since I was such a good kid that I should have been granted opportunities to just live a little.
Someone hold me to this: I certainly hope to be a little more in tune with my kids' desires. Granted, I'm not taking them to get tattoos right out of middle school, but part of being a kid is exploring yourself a bit. If my girl wants to chop off her hair and dye it green, so what? Freedom of expression and experimenting is a part of growing up, and I'd much rather foster that in a healthy way instead of putting my foot down each and every time my kids make a request.