Do you look at your children and pat yourself on the back? Or perhaps blame yourself for the issues that they have?
I have six children, including three teenagers, and they are all pretty good, easy kids. For a long, long time I thought they were all great due to my exemplary parenting skills. But now I’m realizing it might have very little to do with me. Maybe I could have been a crack whore they still would be turning out pretty well.
Disclosure: I have children who are in the younger grades who might still end up getting pregnant in high school/selling drugs/becoming the anti-Christ but I am hopeful that they won’t.
As I get older I have seen many of my friends children go seriously astray. Kids who had fantastic, caring, disciplined parents. I understand free agency and all that but I’m really still scratching my head wondering nature or nurture?
A couple of weeks ago I took care of my sister’s three children for over a week while she and her husband went on a trip. Her six-year-old daughter has always been defiant and incredibly emotional and she basically gave me a run for my money. As I sat and watched my niece freak out yet again I wondered if she would be the same way if I had been her mother. It’s hard not to see where other parents fall short, but does it really matter? Is there really that much difference to be had by parenting differently?
I know it’s heresy to even suggest such a thing. The amount of parenting books is mind-blowing. Never before have there been so many resources for children: doctors, music lessons, special schools, therapists, classes, camps. We should have childhood all figured out by now. Obviously we don’t.
Is there a basic minimum that every child needs and everything beyond that is pointless? Does everything really come down to the child’s personality and free-agency? Does the important part of my job really consist of nothing more than providing unconditional love and acceptance?
How do you, as a parent, a teacher, or even just an observer of children, determine what really makes a difference in bringing up kids?