Have you seen the film Parenthood: the one where Steve Martin plays the uptight dad with 3 kids? I watched it when it first came out, back in 1989. As an 18 year old, with no children of my own, I naturally laughed all the way through it, labelling it a 'nice' film with no real meaning.
Whilst flicking through the array of channels on SKY the other night, attempting to find something at least vaguely watchable (what is it with TV at the moment?!) we stumbled across 'Parenthood'. Putting aside the initial shock at how old-fashioned this film looked, I decided to watch it. As a 41 year old mother of three children, I suddenly saw it from a whole different perspective.
If you are young enough to have never seen or even heard of this film, it basically portrays various parenting styles: the pushy parent, the lenient parent, the over-bearing parent, the uptight parent, the absent parent. Each style is clearly presented in its extreme form, but it is really interesting to watch these roles play out. Rather than spending the entire film in stitches, like I did 24 years ago, I squirmed at some of it, had sympathy for the parents through most of it and felt a little sad for the misunderstood kids. The boot was well and truly on the other foot....
As the film drew to a close, I realised, once again, the enormity of parenthood. What if we muck it up, like the mother of Julie - the teenager who moves in with her boyfriend, shaves her head and becomes pregnant at 16? What if we push our children so hard like the dad of little Pattie, who can speak fluent Japanese by the age of 4, yet has no idea how to relate to other kids? I am sure that in their own way, each parent thought they were doing the right thing.
Is there a 'right way' when it comes to parenting?
As an individual, I naturally look for guidelines and routines; I therefore tend to run my home a little like this too. On occasion, I look at other mums who seem softer, a little more laid-back in their approach and wonder if my children would thrive better in such a setting (comparison is a deadly game but we all do it, don't we?). As you can imagine, I experiment with the idea for all of about 2 minutes, promptly realising that it's just not 'me' and revert back to my usual 'firm but fair' approach (that's how I like to see it anyway!). It doesn't make my way 'right' and their way 'wrong', it just means that we're different and so are our kids.
As I watch my children mature and our family become one with pre-teens, as opposed to young children, I recognise there will be a need to change and grow with them. What won't change however, is my personality and therefore my natural parenting style. As a Christian, I believe that God chose me to be the mum of these 3 children, He knew my personality (He did create me, after all!) and thought that it would work well for them. Of course there will be times when I make a mess of it, but there is no doubt that being a 'lenient parent' would not work well for my slightly sassy 11 year old daughter and God knew that!
Remember this: YOU are the best parent for your child, even if at times you think He got it wrong!
The film concludes with Steve Martin, or the character he plays, realising that it's high time he stopped stressing over what 'might happen' and started to enjoy the rollercoaster....let's do it!
What kind of parent are you? Do you see yourself as lenient or pretty strict? Perhaps you think that parenting should be child-led? I'd love to hear your thoughts....
I am delighted to say that 3 Children and It has been shortlisted in the Family category of the Britmums' BiB (Brilliance in Blogging) Awards. If you have enjoyed this post and think I deserve to go through to the next round, please click on the image below....thank you!