Do you remember when you were a little kid and you couldn’t resist tasting every single chocolate in that large box your mom received as a gift? I do. And then what? Did you wrap your arms around your stomach and say, “Mom or Mum (if you’re English) my tummy hurts?”
This was a pivotal moment in my life as I recall mum saying to dad, “let her eat all of them. She’ll feel sick and learn a lesson.” This was my mother’s approach. She said the same thing when I turned ten, and my best friend, Lilian, and I melted a pound of raclette, (a Swiss cheese) in a frying pan, and mopped it up with fresh bread. We both loved food and sometimes overdid it. Suffering the consequences of my actions, at a young age, taught me to take charge of my actions. Had mum or my dad said, “Don’t eat more than one or two, you’ll get fat,” I know this message would have remained ingrained in my mind for life.
Where I live (not far from Hollywood) there is tremendous pressure for young girls to remain skinny, and I cringe when I hear fathers tell their daughters, “I shall pay you for each pound you lose,” or, “When you lose fifteen pounds, I’ll take you to Disneyland.”
My mom was interested in child psychology, and applied various principles to the way I was raised. I have tried to incorporate some in the way I raised my three sons. One, was to always have candy in a bowl on our coffee table, that way it was not considered “forbidden.” An interesting thing happened: After my son’s second Halloween, they were able to make their candy last for months. Other parents would take the bag away, and ration it out for their child.
Another principle I call a “gift” from both my parents was their attitude towards education. Neither one of my parents went to college. They were teenagers during WWII. Instead of forcing their choices onto me, as to which college I should attend, and what I should study, they let me decide, and therefore I was motivated to do well for myself, and my future. When I was sixteen, I really wanted to become an air traffic controller. My parents never criticized my choice by saying, “You realize how stressful that job is,” or, “Sonia, you have bad eyesight, they won’t accept you,” like some people said.” Their attitude allowed me to think things through and make my own decisions. Their lack of “control” put me in charge of my education.
My mom passed away when I was twenty-five. At the time I lived in Paris, and my father was fifty-seven. I shall always be thankful to my dad for not saying, “You can’t move to the U.S. You’re my only child. Who will take care of me as I get older?” He let me follow my dreams, and not once, has he made me feel guilty about my decision.
The three gifts I have tried to pass onto my children during childhood are:
- Be responsible for your actions
- Be responsible for your choices
- Live your life, live your dreams.
Barbara Hammond says
I stumbled onto your blog while going through the ProBlogger challenge (31days to build a better blog). Today's task was to find blogs similar to your own and critique them. I'm not sure I have a cagegory for my blog, but 'life lessons' sort of fits. My life lessons were very opposite from yours, in that I grew up knowing how I DIDN'T want to be. It still has the same result, enjoying life and not blaming others for your choices.
I'm glad I found your blog, I'll be back!
Gramma Ann says
I think what we do as parents is not to make our children's decisions for them, but, I would like to think we try to guide them to make the right choices. There can be options put in front of them, and as parents we always hope they choose the right one. Maybe not what we would have chosen, but, nevertheless, it worked for them. Did all that make sense? I hope so!
I must say, my children were not selfish when I decided to move 900 miles away from them. Oh Yes, they would rather I had stayed where I was, however, they cut the apron strings, and let me go.
The importance of life lessons may reflect both in positive and negative ways on our lives. Unfortunately, not all parents were/are as well-focused as yours. I learned both from my somewhat erratic parents, but the positive stuck more. In particular, the courage and resilience they both showed in the face of adversity has seen me through many ups and downs.
As for chocolates, I was a post WWII child in GB, when sweet rationing was in full swing. My father would cut up a Mars bar and give each of us (4) a slice – once a week. I still take months to finish all the chocolates in a box. I learned to ration and portion control. I guess that could be considered a life lesson.
Your parents sound like very down to earth wise people. I think they taught you well, as you do with your kids.
I like the principals you have tried to pass along.
Phivos Nicolaides says
Very interesting ideas and thoughts.
These are great principles and what great parents you were blessed with. I have made some mistakes by "expecting" certain choices from my children. I honestly felt that I was helping them have an "edge" by my suggestions. I totally agree that it should be their choice. So, recently I have put both hands over my mouth.
Thank you for sharing these important life lessons!
It's nice to hear from you and that you were able to reach those results on your own. I was very fortunate to have parents who loved one another and me. (I'm not saying this may not have been your case, just that I was fortunate.) I'd love to keep in touch.
I agree that guidance is necessary,as well as manners and rules. I had my fair share of struggles raising my boys. As you know, my oldest contributed to our move to Belize. Sometimes guidance doesn't go the way you planned it either. I like the way you reversed the order of the move. Usually it's the kids wanting to move away and the parents hoping they won't. Interesting perspective. Thanks Gramma Ann.
Thanks for giving me the perspective of the "rationing" aspect. I did not think of that. Good point.
As I said above, I was fortunate to have a loving childhood. What a gift that is for a child.
Believe me, I have made many mistakes as a parent. Often, I've been weak. As you may know, I had major problems with my oldest son, who thankfully got back on track and I'm so proud of him at 22, today.
Sonia, there are no perfect people. We all do mistakes even if we try our best.
Your life lessons are very important. I wish you get many bloggers to read this post.
Have a goooood weekend!
Very insightful. A lot for me to learn from this.
Your parents must have set a high standard and good example for you or you would not have known what a good choice looked like. And sometimes our kids peers influence them more than we would like, as in the case of your son and then we have to step in and make some decisions for them. I am all for letting kids fail, but only up to a certain point.
Its so sad to hear of parents in LA bribing their daughters to lose weight. Tragic.
Michelle Davidson Argyle says
What an absolutely beautiful, inspiring post! As a new parent, it's often difficult for me to figure out how I should be raising my daughter, but I had great examples in my own parents, and I think I'll do okay. You are amazing!
I think I may have said this here before, but as a child I was given very few rules and I think that in turn I gave my children too many rules. Fortunately they turned out well, maybe more in spite of me than because of me. You were fortunate to have parents with a great sense of balance and values.
Miss Footloose says
My Dutch parents had a similar attitude and I will forever be grateful to my mother for "letting me go" when I took off for Africa to be with my American Peace Corps volunteer boyfriend. "If you don't go," she said, "you'll nver know if he's the one." Well, he turned out to be the one, and since I'm her only daughter, my mother now only sees me a couple of times a year. Never makes me feel guilty either!
What wise and wonderful parents you had! What worthwhile principles you have passed on to your children!
The Caffeinated Globe says
"The three gifts" truly are precious.
Thanks so much for following my blog. I have followed you a while ago. On your "Follow with Google Friend Connect" widget, my blog — "The Caffeinated Globe" is located between "Dimos" and "Corve."
Donna B says
Great lessons. Wonderful parents. Good advice. When my teenage girls were 16 and 17, we fought constantly over their curfew and coming home right after work. When they turned 18, I told them they were in charge of their own curfew. They began to come in earlier and go to bed earlier. Who knew? Guess they figured it was no fun if they couldn't break the rules. As a single mom, I had to rely on their honesty and integrity, so I found reinforcing their's, was far better than lecturing on it.
Yes, parenting is always a balancing act.
Thanks for your comment. I'm still learning about parenting. I guess it never ends.
You're right about peers influencing our kids. As you know this was a big issue my family which I guess is why we pulled him out of his environment.
If you had great parents, as I did, then you're on the right track.
You know, I was a little weak with consequences as far as raising a teenager. Perhaps being stricter would have been better in my case.
Perhaps that's why we both enjoyed the expat life. Did your parents live outside Holland, in Africa perhaps?
Let's hope the kids feel the same. Thanks.
@The Caffeinated Globe
I apologize for not commenting regularly.
Did you read, Adair Lara's book, "Hold Me Close, Let me Go?" It's about a mom and her teenage daughter.
NO problem here! 🙂
Your settings are ok to comment with Name/URL option > my link will be to the correct address.
You have even anonymous option which is good for those who don't have
a blog nor google account. Very good.
Commenting should be as easy as possible.
My mom still tries to parent me! 🙂 Not that much anymore but every now and then. It's really funny. I'm her child what ever my age.
The same will be with my boys. I try not to parent that much because they both know how to live their own lives.
And we all have to learn our own ways to live anyway. As parents we can advise our adult kids but only when asked. Nagging is not supportive help.
The best is to have a conversation like adults do. Not a child vs. mother talk.
Supporting us and encouraging us to follow our dreams are the best gifts a parent can give their kids.
Thanks for letting me know about my settings. Good to know. Also, I think you're right. It's important for us to treat our "adult" kids as adults and not kids. My dad has done that with me, and I'm grateful.
Love your updated BLOGitse.
Good advice. Did you have a relaxing holiday?
This is terrific advice. What a gift your dad gave you; having healthy boundaries like that. He must be a very special man.
Visiting via Saturday Sampling and the link from No Excuses 🙂
Joanna Jenkins says
Stopping over from "No Excuses". This is a terrific post. I can see why she recommended it.
Very insightful indeed! I have two boys..aged 12 and 10. Im doing my best to pass on what I think is important. I don't always feel like Im getting through and I hope some of it sinks in!