Updated: May 4
✦ Parenting 101 - wouldn't we all love to have an instruction manual we could just follow to know what's the 'right' thing to do when we become parents?
Bridgette and Veronica with their granddaughter, Victoria in Luxembourg
Let's face it. It's tough being a parent.
There's no need to sugarcoat here. You don't get to go to school to learn or train how to be a parent. Pilots train to fly a plane and get everyone safely from one place to another. Doctors spend years poring over books and hours practising and learning how to help people who are sick. But to become a parent? There's no Parenting 101 or Proficiency Parenting courses we can take.
You can read all the books available on parenting and when you're faced with your toddler having a meltdown you still feel frustrated and guilty (yes, those two emotions can actually go together). There are tons of books about pregnancies and preparing for the big arrival. And we diligently apply ourselves to becoming the expert on this stage of becoming a parent. But somehow once the child arrives, perhaps there's too much going on, but it is not as common for parents to pore over books to learn 365 Mantras for Managing Meltdowns with Terrible Twos or How Not to Scream When Teenagers Push Too Many Buttons.
You just... get busy surviving being a parent.
So to all parents out there, know that you are not alone, and that we recognise Modern Day Parenting can feel arduous and stressful.
It doesn't end when you become a grandmother
I recently visited my granddaughter in Luxembourg and landed to a very different parenting experience which got me thinking about parenting styles and how one can never really know what is the 'right' thing to do. Parenting styles are different not just across generations but also across countries and culture.
It had been a long wait to finally meet my granddaughter, and now that travel restrictions have been lifted, I was raring to pack my bag and jet set my way to meeting Victoria. After a gruelling journey all the way from Australia through several countries and battling long flights, COVID tests and lost baggage, I finally got to meet our latest precious member to the family.
We all have expectations of what it would be or feel like when meeting our grandchildren for the first time, and yes it was magical and totally worth all the travel misadventures, but what I was not prepared for was how unsure I actually was about parenting. Thing is, just because you become a grandparent does not mean you have been awarded a promotion or a PhD in Parenting. If anything, I found myself even more confused about what parenting really is about!
I'm sure some of you have struggled over these questions:
Do I pick up the baby if she's crying?
How long should I let her cry before picking her up?
Do I put her down the minute she stops crying?
Am I hugging her too much, too long, too often?
Is ignoring a fussy baby going to emotionally hurt them?
Is pampering a fussy baby going to emotionally hurt them?
Why can't I feed her the things I used to feed my own daughter?
and the biggest question is... OMG... am I a bad mother / father?
... and the list goes on and on. You get the idea.
Many of us look back to our own childhoods as a point of reference as to how to parent. But our children are growing up in a totally different generation and there just isn't a template for how to parent in this present environment.
So as parents we are caught in this strange, eternal twilight zone between two worlds - the traditional and the modern. I thought I'd shine a brilliant light on these two seemingly opposing ways of parenting and see what I can discover about this elusive thing called parenting which seems so impossible to ever get right!
Keywords: Authoritarian. Discipline. NO.
Main aim: The parent is the authority figure here. They teach children skills, manners, values that will allow them to become responsible adults who will in turn become useful members of society and contribute to their families.
Characteristics of children: They have good manners, have been 'well-taught' by their parents, behave really well, understand school and education are important. They get good grades and collect accomplishments in various areas of their lives. As adults, they are dependable, reliable and have good work ethics.
Style: It is a very practical way of parenting, where the focus is on the long term and the benefit of the greater good. Many may be familiar with the philosophy of "You need to study hard now so you can get a good job in the future."
Parents are more likely to exert power and authority over the children who are expected to be obedient and responsible.
In this style, parents impose more restrictions and boundaries and say no a lot more. And a NO in traditional parenting is a complete sentence. There is no room for negotiation. Discipline is strict and resistance