29 April 2013

Learning to Enjoy the Ride!


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!
 
NOMINATE ME BiB 2013 FAMILY

34 comments:

  1. As a Christian too, I agree that I believe God is the one who matches us with our children. I also feel that the way we parent is an opportunity to reflect the way that we think He parents us. But even among Christians there's disagreement about what that means. At the end of the day, the only people qualified to make decisions for how to raise their children are the parents. My daughter is very young, 22 months, and so far a gentle, laid-back approach has worked for us. We are not very rigid as personalities so I can't see us becoming that way but we could definitely use a little more routine in our lives. Perhaps all "types" of parents have something to learn from each other? That has to be more productive than comparing ourselves to each other.

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    1. I agree that we've all been given the responsibility and authority to parent our children so we have the tools to do it! We certainly should be learning from one another and tweaking things a bit, but our natural style can't be altered, I don't think. Thanks for commenting :)

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  2. Loved this post... Scary how much perspective changes when you become a parent... The biggest responsibility on earth... And it can seem a little overwhelming at times. Thank you for the reminder that the children we have been given are no accident, but part of God's sovereign plan. And he gives us the strength to parent them and the grace when we mess it up!

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    1. I need to remind myself of that daily Claire. As they grow, I find the task more and more daunting! Thank you for commenting :)

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  3. I watched a bit of Parenthood the other night too (although I fell asleep) as it was on VERY late.

    I was much more confident in my parenting when the kids were littler, but as they grow I find myself doubting how I 'handle' things and what I do, particularly as a role model. The more trying they become, testing boundaries, answering back etc, the more I find myself buying parenting books and looking for tips and/or reassurance.

    I find it odd, too, that as a teacher I have complete authority and control in the classroom, but home with my own kids it's a whole new ball game!

    Thanks for linking up again x

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    1. I'm with you on this Sarah! I found parenting younger children relatively straight forward (or am I looking through rose tinted spectacles?!). As they grow, not knowing many people with older children, I'm not sure what's normal and there seems to be so many grey areas....glad I've got the blog to air my grievances! x

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  4. What an interesting post!

    We have noticed that we don't parent our children like our own parents did, in part because we don't parent the French way! French education is very much, it seems to us, about pointing out what doesn't match expectations. Whether the 'British' way puts the emphasis on good results/behaviour, resulting in more confident children, and less individualistic.

    I think I'm quite lenient on some things and not some other! For example I'm am not very tidy and don't push tidiness with our children. Well, except that I try to be a minimum tidy for everyone and sometimes go on a rant!

    I agree with Sarah, I find it more challenging as they grow!

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    1. Very interesting to hear your thoughts on the French way of parenting - I didn't realise it was quite so different. I think that all mothers are allowed a good 'rant' every now and again ;)

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  5. I'm pretty militant... As militant I can be with a 13 month old, but I run my house like I run my classroom... Rules and no rubbish! She has to (and mostly does) understand no and there are boundaries - it's hard sometimes but I'm hoping that hard work now will pay off later... Says the expert... I'm all about routine and I think that's paid off for us so far.... Watch this space!! xx

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  6. Another great post. Like you, I think I'm firm but fair, which can result in me sounding (and feeling) like a nag :( I wish I could ease up a bit sometimes, but I just don't think that's me. Like you say, we're all different and we're all the best parents for our own kids - even if they do push us a bit sometimes!

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  7. I remember the film Parenthood really well. Like you I watched it when I wasn't a parent and then later when I was and it is like a whole different film! I really empathised with the Steve Martin character as I think I'm overly anxious as a parent and tend to imagine the worst all the time! My children's capacity to lose uniform, forget homework and lunch money drives me crazy and I long for more order. But my husband is much more laid back and doesn't fret about the little stuff and I think that's more healthy.

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    1. Strangely, I think there is a little bit of 'me' in all of the characters (perhaps not Julie's mother!) but the overall theme is about 'enjoying the ride' and I found it really moving. Didn't see any of that first time round!

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  8. I wouldn't say I'm firm but fair - I'm more of the child-led type. But I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. I strongly believe that, as long as you play to your strengths, recognise your weaknesses and try to overcome them (this is the hardest bit), and remain true to your character, then you'll be the best parent you could possibly be. And that's all anyone could ask!

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    1. Thank you, that sums up nicely what I was trying to say! x

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  9. I've not see the film but I do remember it being. I think it's really hard to parent in a way that's not natural to you. I'm quite strict because I like order and routine but I'm also a bit silly so there's fun too. I do have a quick temper though which I'm trying really, really hard to work on. There's no place for a temper around young children; it's not something I want to pass on.

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    1. I agree totally. I think that with a fairly orderly approach, comes an annoyance with anything that doesn't fit into that....which is where the temper comes from (in my case anyway!)

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  10. My Dad is a very wise man (mostly!) and he is fond of saying 'there are many paths to the top of the mountain' He is quite right, we have to choose our own path in parenting, and most of us do a damn fine job. I always think it is a shame to criticise another parents choices, for we do not walk in their shoes!

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    1. Very wise indeed. Thank you for the reminder :) x

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  11. A thought-provoking post (it's also made me want to re-watch Parenthood!). I tend to be quite strict about some things but try to balance that side with also being relaxed with other stuff that I think is less important in the grand scheme of things. I'm going through an uncharcteristic tough time with my four-year old at the moment and it's really making me introspect on my own parenting and whether I'm doing something wrong. I do feel a bit reassured by what you've said about being chosen to be the mother of my children - I believe that too.

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    1. So this is exactly my motivation for writing this post. When I am going through a 'tough time', I need to remind myself continually, of this very fact. Keep going - they've only got one of us and we're the right one for them!

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  12. Hiya Suzanne,gosh this a BIG subject!My bottom line on this is that the middle road is quite a good place,not strict enough to drive the children mad with rules upon rules but not too lenient so the kids dont have any respect.And I'm a big believer in boundaries,I truly think kids need them.Great post :-)

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    1. I also think that boundaries are key....fortunately that goes with my 'natural' parenting style! Thanks for commenting :)

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  13. OK, so I need to watch this film, don't think I have seen it. I find I am on a massive learning journey and things change all the time, just as my children seem to be accepting my authority they then change their tact and I have to rethink it all. Thanks the Lord we are not alone in this!

    Mich x

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    1. So true Mich, I really couldn't do this thing alone - it's the hardest job ever! x

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  14. This is really interesting, You're a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post. Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

    My blog - Cristie Galassini

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  15. Gosh, all the errors that parents could make in one laugh a minute film, scary stuff!! I'm one of the firm but fair bunch of parents I think. I don't think it's fair not to set them boundaries, children need boundaries and society needs them to be given boundaries so that they turn into valuable members of society once they are no longer children - not saying that they aren't valuable as children, obvs. they are hugely valuable members of society from the moment they're born, but you know what I mean, I hope... ok, rambling now... brilliant post btw!

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    1. I agree on the boundaries - but some definitely need firmer ones than others and this is the 'problem' in our house! Thanks for commenting and for being so encouraging :) x

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  16. What a great post. I'll have to go back and watch the film again. I needed to read this post today. we have had an appalling day of tantrums from both child and parents. Thanks
    Sharing this on the Sunday Parenting Party pinterest board

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    1. I;m featuring your post on eth Sunday Parenting Party this weekend. Feel free to grab an "I was featured" Button from here http://www.tamingthegoblin.com/p/my-blog-buttons.html if you'd like one

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    2. Hey, thank you so much! I will display my badge with pride :) Although you had experienced a horrible day (I've had more than my fair share of those!) I was so pleased that you read something you needed to :)

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  17. I think I need to see this film! Thanks for sharing with the Pin it Party. I am http://pinterest.com/jbmumofone/ on pinterest :)

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  18. Reading that made me think I need to watch that film again! I like the "fair but firm" categorization, I think I am going to embrace it, though I am sure "neurotic and annoying" can sometimes fit the bill also (probably more if you ask my kids)!

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  19. I'm half way through this film second time round and I agree it's fascinating to watch it again. I love the idea that we were all chosen for our children - whether it's God or fate, it really does put parenting into perspective. My sister-in-lay has a saying that you can't change your children, all you can do is love them through whatever they do - that helps me out from time to time as well.

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  20. Fab post Suzanne, keep up the great work xx

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