Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to raise my future kids differently than how I was raised.  My parents were not mean or abusive, but I just knew things could be done better.  In fact, when my first child was born, I remember that my main goal in raising her was to do almost everything opposite of what my parents had done.

Before I go on, let me state that my parents had and have a lot of good qualities.  They gave me ballet and piano, they helped me with school work (my dad would often be up with me until past midnight cramming for a math test or finishing up school projects), they took us on trips, they hugged and kissed us.  In spite of this, there were a few specific things that I knew I would definitely change: I would make sure we had dinner together every night, with few exceptions; I would put an emphasis on having Shabbat (Friday night) dinner every week (I am not religious but I love tradition); I would read to my kids; I would let them know daily how smart, funny, and amazing they are.  I would instill independence from a young age, just to name a few.  In addition to specific areas that could be named, there was a general sense of "I'll have to do this better and/or differently".  Basically, I would raise my children to not become me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not all that bad.  I can be very caring, very warm, I can be funny at times, I can even show moments of intelligence, but there is so much I would change.  I can be lazy, nervous, shy, unmotivated, sloppy, unadventurous, lacking in self-confidence.  Oh, and I procrastinate - a lot.  My husband likes to point out that last one.  Especially when our daughter answers back to a request to do something with "just a minute".  He'll smile and say "I wonder where she gets that from.".  My answer usually is: "If I wanted her to turn out like me, I would have had my parents raise her.".

Now, in all fairness, we are not just a product of our environment, but also of our nature.  Wait, so I guess I can blame them for that, as well, since they made up my nature!  Truthfully, I do not believe we should allow ourselves to be victims.  We should not pass on the blame.  I have met people with much more horrible parents and/or childhoods who turned out a million times better than me.  My past is my past, and that is where it belongs.  It does not matter at this point whose fault it is that I am who I am.  At some point, we must take responsibility for who we are (and considering my age, I should have taken it years ago).

So while I am still a work in progress, I am trying to help my each of my children become the person I wish I was.


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