Are You Raising Babies or Adults?
Probably the most important top tier relationship women who are parents manage is tied to their children. That’s not to say men aren’t tied to it too, however, even in 2020 we cannot deny the main parenting role is still expected to come from ‘mum’.
I have been deeply engaged in reading Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ and have found many insightful pointers about being the woman I choose to be whilst fulfilling the roles I have. One statement that jumped out at me as I was thinking about the mother/child relationship was the one she shares about her mother’s take on raising her children:
“She loved us consistently, Craig & me, but we were not over-managed. Her goal was to push us out into the world. “I’m not raising babies,” she’d tell us, “I’m raising adults”.
She goes on to say as children/young teens they were given guidelines instead of rules and questioned into thinking for themselves, and we know that generally this approach encourages responsibility and decision-making.
The question then, is, if you are a mother, how are you raising your children? Are you doing as was done, based on how your parents brought you up, have you opted to the opposite way of raising them because you didn’t favour how your parents brought you up or, like many of us mum’s, operating on autopilot?
This is not a judgement call it’s about raising awareness of what we do and getting away from complete autopilot reactions so we can empower our children into adulthood and create pockets of time for our self-care.
As you look at your thinking and behaviours, here are a few questions to consider, regardless of the age of your children:
- What age is the right age for your children to begin to understand responsibility? (toddlers, young children, teenagers, grown adults)
- What could your children be responsible for now that you are doing on their behalf?
- When you do things on your children’s behalf who can capably do them themselves, what drives you to keep on doing them?
- How much decision-making do your children own?
- What are your behaviours and habits around parenting; those rooted in you?
There are no right answers, they are your experience and your choices. The thing with choices is to review them and see if they are still relevant and working in your favour. For example:
If you have always tidied your children’s bedroom, when will you stop? Will you show them ‘how to’ and then give them the space to test it out or will you become frustrated by their lack of effort (or the way they do it) and continue to do it yourself?
I know when my son was a teenager I would often berate him for not keeping up to my standards of cleanliness in his room but would then go and put it right because I wanted it to be the way I wanted it to be. I also know that some of that was driven by guilt (being a single parent I felt it was my responsibility to do more because I chose to leave his father) whereas my mother taught us that we were fortunate to have our own space and as such should treat it with respect. Her driver was there were plenty of children who did not have the luxury of having their own space.
In hindsight it would have been more beneficial to have a meaningful conversation on what it means to have a clean & tidy space and then allow my son to create one (regardless of whether it matched my perception). It would certainly have saved me a lot of time and energy that I could then have utilised more effectively. And it would have meant treating him more like an adult than a baby.
When we understand where some of our root behaviours/habits come from, it can help us see if they are still valid (or ever were) or if they need an upgrade.
And whether we want to believe it or not, we are influenced by a number of external sources that drive our behaviours. If we don’t stop to acknowledge them, to understand how they are affecting our life, we are less likely to consciously see a reason for change or feel there is anything to address.
In my ‘How To Assess Your Habits’ e-checklist I have identified 6 things that affect how we do what we do in the world of parenting, home making, work; in fact living.
- Who has influenced you?
- What motivates you to do things?
- Who else’s life do you manage beyond your own?
- Who are you willing to let down or say no to?
- What percentage of your time do you set aside for you?
- Where does your time & energy really go?
And all of these, once understood and acknowledged, can be tweaked and upgraded to help create more time for self-care that in turn brings out more energy and gives you what you need to do all that you do without burning out.
What are your thoughts? I would love to know…
P.S: If you would like to receive a copy of my e-checklist, click here to request