Parenting is a very tough job, ask any mother about how she raises her kids and you’ll hear an array of parenting methods. Should you be hands on or relaxed with discipline? Should you treat boys differently from girls? Should you be tough with boys and comforting with girls? Every mother wants what’s best for her kids, but how do you decide when to do what?
When I had my first son I was adamant about giving him the best of everything, but to me the best wasn’t necessarily the most expensive or the most popular. One thing that confused me was the incessant need mothers felt to provide everything to their kids without them appreciating or even understanding how these things got to them. Many times I’ve heard kids brush off a broken new toy with “it’s ok, we’ll buy a new one”, something that alarmed me and cemented my intention to not be that mother.
Once my kids got into school I saw this even more evident, mothers trying to make sure their kids never fall back on the popularity scale in fear that they will be the mocked child for not having the coolest new gadget or for not spending the summer vacation at a European country; kids were pressured to be something much older than their ages.
Another alarming observation is the constant presence of a nanny with every child, sometimes two, to cushion a child’s fall, or fight back when he’s being picked on, or get him what he wants when he wants it, children today are so used to someone doing stuff for them it’s no wonder they grow up into dependent adults.
So what did I do? I sucked it up and watched from far away as my 5-year-old son learned that when someone picks on him, he has to stand up for himself. Or when my 1-year-old learned to walk, a bump on the head is part of the learning process, and when my 3-year-old got rejected from playing tag, he could go find another group to play with. All gut wrenching, but very important when developing a child’s personality and temperament.
Was it all rainbows and butterflies? Absolutely not! The constant struggle of when to intervene and when to step back is tiring and emotionally taxing, but the reward always comes just when I feel that I can’t do it anymore. A relative that compliments my son for being so smart and a logical thinker, or a teacher that praises me for raising a polite child, all refresh me for the next rounds of battles I have to fight to raise well-rounded independent men.
Being a mother is a beautiful role in nature, but it also has a lot of responsibilities that cannot be delegated to hired help or the school. Mothering goes beyond getting pregnant and having a child, it requires you to take on 100 jobs, do them well, and not expect anything in return.