I mentioned earlier about parenting styles.  When you have children with friends whose parenting styles are exact 180 from  yours, you have to adjust and learn to cope.  (case in point was the blog regarding the child who is rather disrespectful to parents)  Here is my own personal theory on parenting, and I’ve only been a parent for 8yrs, so it’s not like I’m a pro.  I’m learning with each stage my oldest goes through, and that’s the joy of being a parent.  You realize all the stages that kids go through, only you see them as  your parents saw them.

So here are my versions of the “type of parents” I’ve encountered so far… and this isnt’ to say one or the other is right.  The only parenting style that is right is the style that works for you–as we all know all kids are different and need to be parented a little differently.

1) Routine & Discipline: This is probably  more my style.  I like to think that all children need some sort of routine in their lives, and discipline on varying levels.  Routines such as regular bedtimes, somewhat regular dinnertimes, eating breakfast every morning before school… these are the kinds of routines I’m talking about.  You don’t have to sit and plan your entire day with your child in order to get “routine” into your parenting style.  This is about setting guidelines and time tables that are very reasonable.  For example, the boys know that when they get up, they have an hour to make their breakfast, get dressed, and clean their teeth before going to school.  Sometimes a bit longer if they are up earlier.  Unfortunately, my 2nd one is like me–doesn’t like to get out of bed right away, so he takes a bit longer to do things.  He is on his own time-frame… (which is a whole other blog!)  I used to use an oven timer so they could check how much time they had left.  This worked well in the aspect of getting them to understand how long an hour is, exactly, without me having to harp on them every 15mins to get stuff done.  What doesn’t get done, doesn’t get done.  If they go to school with a pair of dirty jeans because they didnt’ feel like changing–that’s their problem to deal with at school, not mine.  If they want to skip teeth brushing–a proper teeth brushing–then it’s their teeth that will rot, not mine.  They have to learn to be responsible, and for me, this means giving them a sort of routine that they can expect to occur every day.  Whether or not there is school.  Of course, on weekends, and during the summer, the 1-hr rule is slack, but they do need to get these things done before they go outside to play.  

Discipline — this doesn’t mean a belt to the bum, or a wooden spoon to the hand, or anything that we may have grown up on.  This is giving them the idea that there is a consequence for their actions.  Whether it’s a time-out, a seat in the corner, or one very quick swat to the bum.  They have to learn that for being bad, there is going to be some sort of consequence.  This will change over time as they get older, of course, as it will then lead to no-video game days… no TV days… etc etc etc. … I  have to laugh–I read an article recently that is by some quack doctor who says that you should NOT give children a time-out because it makes them feel  unloved.  Really??  So I don’t love my child because I punish him for doing something he knows is wrong?   I don’t love my child because I am trying to teach him the difference between right and wrong?  HM…  Her soluton?? Talk to the child.  Great concept, except that it doesn’t work with all children.  We’ve tried this, and it doesnt’ work.  This was actuallly our first route of discipline, until we realized it wasn’t working.. like at all. …  Maybe it’s just our kids, I don’t know.. Maybe she doesn’t have kids, I don’t know. ..  What I do know is that when you’re in the grocery store and your kid is screaming bloody murder because he’s not getting his way, a little “talk” will NOT do any good.  What did I do? I used to give them a quick swat, after a few warnings, and they quickly learned that when Mommy is out and they are along for the ride, there is no screaming=treat.  I used to say “I don’t care who’s watching, if you don’t stop I’ll swat your bum.”   So, after having to do that a few times with each of the first two, they realized I won’t tolerate it.  Now I know what some of you will say “Just walk out of the store”.  That’s fine, but when you need that can of formula,  you can’t just walk out of the store.. when you need that bag of diapers, you cant’ just walk out of the store.  When your kids are starving, will you just walk out of that door?  All that teaches them, in my personal opinion, is that if they don’t want to be in the store, they just have to throw a huge fit, and mommy will give them what they want–a very short shopping trip.  I’m sorry, but I don’t work that way.. for some parents it works, but not for this one. =)  …  So, like I said, the level of discipline is based upon the child’s age and mental capacity to understand that there is a right and there is a wrong.  There is a gray area that they will not be allowed to pass through with a free ticket.  I don’t advocate beating the crap out of your child.. That is so wrong on so many levels… One quick swat to the bum is all a child needs.  You don’t need to swat them so hard their bum turns blue.. that’s just going way too far.  All they need is the whole idea that if they refuse to listen after all other options have been tried, they will get the last and final option, no questions asked. 

So, routine and some discipline.  A child really does need some sort of routine and they need to be taught right and wrong.  If all they’ll do is get a speech, they won’t listen anyhow. Especially boys–they seem to have mastered the art of selective hearing at a very early age.  *LOL* They may nod yes, and say “uh-huh”, but if you sit and quiz them, they likely won’t remember more than a few choice words that seemed to have stuck into their memory for some odd reason.. you know what I mean.   When you say to them “Stop hitting your little sister” all they hear is  “hit little sister” .. *LOL* …  and when you quiz them on what you just lectured them about for the past 10minutes, all they’ll remember is “hit.. .little.. sister” ….   so, hey, lectures don’t work on all kids. …  I have lectured mine countless times with the same results.. they don’t remember squat.  *L* I just tell them they are just like their dad… he only half-hears me half the time too.  *LOL*

2) Best Friend — This is the parent, and i know some of you will be reading this, who would rather be the child’s best friend than have to discipline them for wrong-doing.  So this parent is the buddy all the time.  The child does something foolish?  “Oh I did that when I was young…” and the band marches on.   All parents want to be their child’s best friend, however, there is a time when the parent must step out of that role and be the parent.  Will the child get mad?  Probably.  Will the child get over it?  Yep, and it may take some children longer than others.  The  only problem I have with this “style” is that it doesn’t really teach the child that there are consequences to their actions.  They do something foolish, they don’t get punished.  They do something right, they get extra praise.  They do something someone should put them in jail for, it’s just a kid being a kid.  You can still be your child’s best friend.  My husband’s mom was his best friend growing up, and until the day she passed away.  She was a bit more lenient with him, I gather from the stories I’ve heard, but she was a single mom making a place for herself in this world.  Did she let him get away with lots of crazy stuff? Sure she did.  Is he a bad, messed up person?  No.  So this style worked for her with him.  It’s like I mentioned earlier, everyone has their own style, and whatever works for them is the right style for them. …  I don’t have to agree with it, it’s just the way some people choose to raise their children.  And when you encounter another parent who is like this, you just have to learn to adjust.  They are probably great people, and really do care about the child, but just their style is more lenient than most.

3) Part-Time Parent — this is the type of parent who only wants to be there when the time suits their need to have children present.  This doesn’t mean that if you’re a working mom, you are in this category.. What I mean is that when you are a parent who doesn’t really want to be a parent, you will tend to pawn the kid off on everyone who will take him so you can go out and party, have your fun.  Well, maybe this works if it means the child spends a lot of time with the grandparents, or an auntie or uncle.. but a child needs to bond with their parent.  If the parent is out all the time doing grown-up things instead of tending to the needs of the child, then that bond is very frail.  That leaves the child to wonder if he is worthy enough and may start acting out to get your attention.  This type of parenting, although it may be good in some instances, isn’t going to work in most other instances.  I think of single parents.  They definitely do NOT belong in this category.  They are a class of their own.  I find that most parents who would somewhat fit into the “part-time” parent category are teenage mom’s who don’t quite understand the real responsibility behind having children.  They are still in that teenage, lets go party every other night, mode, and you just can’t do that and raise a child at the same time.  There always has to be a give and take.  You gave your child life, they take away part of your sense of freedom as a teen.  I see a lot of teenage moms ((as our high school is full of them back home)) who don’t want to spend the time with their child. It’s not so much that they don’t love the child, but it’s more that they don’t want to give up their teenage lifestyle.  Now if you’re a teenage mom who has the blessing of great parents, and whose parents have no problem taking care of little one while you be a responsible adult, and the occassional irresponsible bout of foolishness… and the child is happy and feels loved… then kudos for making it work.   I’m just saying that in the long run, there will come a time when being a part-time parent just isn’t going to be good enough for your child.

4) Single Parent — I call this a “parenting style” because these single parents deserve a title of their own.  How difficult it must be to not have the help in the evenings from a boyfriend or husband to give you some sense of relief from parental duties.  They adore their children, but the only way they can raise them is to go into the work force and hope that teaching them right and wrong will get them far.   They work all day, come home exhausted, and still make time to read their child a book, fix their favorite dinner, help them with their homework.   These single parents deserve a lot more respect than they are given.   Society as a whole seems to blame the whole single parent thing for the reason children go into gangs, start stealing, start robbing stores…  If that parent isn’t able to be home with their child 24/7, it’s not their fault.   The single parent needs to earn money to buy their child the clothes for school, the shoes for soccer, the gear for hockey.  These things aren’t free.  It’s a give and take society.  Are all single-parent children bad kids?  No, not at all.  A lot of a child’s influence as they get older comes from their choice of friends.  Peer pressure is definitely hidden away when you hear stories of this gang member and that one at home with a single parent.  You can’t sit there and say “Oh, I see.  Poor child doesn’t have 2 parents.”  Instead of saying “Uh-huh. Bad choice of friends, no?”  Not even 2-parent households can’t be with their children all the time.  As much as we want to be, and worry about them, we can’t.   Children need to be allowed to make foolish mistakes, and learn the consequences of these more adult choices.  You just have to hope that the choices they make are good ones, and if they are foolish, they aren’t so foolish that someone else gets hurt in the process.   So to the single parent–kudos for making the best of the situation you are in!  My nephew is raised by his mom, and she has done a wonderful job.  He’s a great kid–well, ok so he’s in high school, but he’s stil a kid to me *LOL*  

And so ends my soap box for the day. …  Like I said, not everyone fits into any one “style”, as with fashion, we all  have a style of our own.  It’s what makes us unique, it what makes us individuals.  Parenting is the same thing.  You have to run with it and hope that whatever style is  yours will work for your child/children.   My sister asked me for a little bit of parenting advice, so I told her she will get advice from all sorts of people, but to remember that what works with one set of parents won’t necessarily work for them.  Parenting is such a steep learning curve.  Most of us parent our children like we were parented as children, and when you have two people who grew up with different parenting styles, then sometimes that will cause a fight….but you have to learn to compromise.  Sometimes one way works better than another.  Sometimes being tough isn’t as good an idea as you thought.  Sometimes being lenient isn’t as good an idea as you thought either.  So it’s just one of those things.  Life is like a deck of cards–you have to play the hand you’re given and make the most of it.  There are no do-overs.  There is no  “Can I get a re-deal?”.  Life is what life is.  Parenting is what a parent makes of it.