Plain Old Parenting

We are kinda old-school at our house. We don’t spank our kids. We are tough on them but loving and very dependable. When I say “tough,” I mean it; our punishments are not negotiated. Ruined clothing is not replaced from our bank accounts – our children can pay for new clothes to replace those they have lost or ruined; rude or disrespectful children are removed from their activities. Natural consequences are felt by our children, not buffered by us. If a child forgets to bring his homework to school, we do not bring it to him. The same goes for lunches, athletic equipment, and whatever else our children should be managing for themselves.

When I say we are dependable, I mean it. If Wiggy (my daughter) asks me to sew a button on her doll’s clothing, I do it. I may not get to it right away, but I make sure I get it done, with her sitting by my side, helping me. If Ian asks for one of us to quiz him for an exam, we ask what time and we are there. If Teddy asks for us to attend his school mass with him, we do our best to make it happen. If Harvey wants to go to a school event and our schedule doesn’t allow for it, I help him find a school family to take him.

On that same note, if our children ask us not to attend a soccer game, school meeting, friend’s birthday party, or something that does not require a parent, we respect their wishes. I want our children to know they can depend on us and trust that we will be there or not. We will not be here forever for our kids; I want to give them the biggest springboard I can for them to launch into their own lives.

And we want those lives to be the best they can be.

They cannot launch into their own lives if I am doing everything for them.

They cannot do that if I am going to pick up the messy pieces. I cannot step in front of my children’s hurt feelings so they don’t feel any pain. That’s not the life I grew up in. I had some hard times in life. I don’t want our kids to go through some of the tough times I did, but I do want them to go through life experiencing both good and bad. I didn’t become a commodities trader (with a nutrition degree) or own a $100,000-a-year jewellery business or become the number one skier for my high school because my parents paved the road for me. No, I busted my ass to get to those places. And I smile a little bit every time I think of any of my accomplishments. I am one proud lady, and I should be. I want my children to be able to give themselves those same opportunities. I want our kids to have grit.

And every single parenting move we do is creating it.

Everywhere we go, we are told how well-behaved and happy our children are. It makes me proud, but I know there is still a lot of living I have to let them do, and I am excited (and scared) to let them do it.

Let your children fail, let your children succeed, let your children cry, let your children get hurt (safely hurt). It will all be very hard to watch, but your children will be stronger, better, more confident, and happier people the more you sit back and watch.

Kysa Kelleher is a mother of six and author of Say it Once: The No Bullshit Guide to Parenting (from which this article is an excerpt). You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


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