My mum definitely isn’t a bad mum, no way. There are a lot worse people to deal with, but she has hurt me a great deal, and she still does. Personally, I think raising children is one of the hardest things in life. There’s still not one explicit good manner of raising or set of rules you can to follow which result in good parenthood. However, it’s known that some things, whether mentally or physically, are harmful. For example talking down on your child, beating (punishment) your child when you want them to stop showing certain kinds of behaviour and so on. Even according to Skinner punishment isn’t the way to change behaviour, it doesn’t have long term effects and possibly has harmful side effects as well. From what I’ve picked up during my lectures and books, it seems that the best way to correct your children is by explaining them what they did wrong, why it was wrong and to let them sit on a chair for a few minutes since it’ll help them develop a theory of mind and doesn’t harm them. You know, the Supernanny method. Anyway, that’s not where I want to go with this. There are some things I’d like to to differently when I’m, no if I ever become, a mother. I disagree with how my mum’s treated me throughout the years, and that’s why I’m writing this down. Because one day, when I am a mum, I don’t want to make the same mistakes my mum made (in my eyes). I want to be able to read this back one day and think: yes; I did things differently and I’ve done them well. I don’t want to end up realising that I’ve never applied the things I’m about to write down. Here we go:
1. Be supportive. I know this is a very general statement, so let me explain further. When my child comes up with an idea, I’m not going to burn it down to the ground. Of course, if the idea is dangerous or anything, I would tell them, but I don’t ever want to get mad and yell at my child for having an idea or a dream. I want my child to believe in themselves, be confident, to feel like they’re capable of achieving the things they want and not to be ashamed of themselves. Lots of things are in the genes but you can shape your children as well.
2. Don’t swear at my children. I can totally imagine that children can be such a pain and I bet it’s hard to control yourself sometimes, but no. Swearing at my children is one of the things I want to prevent as much as possible. Especially when you’re older, you start to become aware of yourself and hurtful words start to have more and more influence on you. The hurtful things my mum says get stuck in my brain like chewing gum on the streets.
3. Don’t hurt them psychologically/mentally. It’s actually the same as swearing at your children, but I feel like what I mean is slightly different? What I’m talking about is when my mum continually, every single day, told me I would fail. I’m not exaggerating, we had fights every day when I was thirteen/fourteen. She told me I would fail high school, that I was lazy and not smart enough. My drive to prove her wrong became huge and I was never so motivated, and I passed. In the end I felt like I wasn’t good enough anyway, but my mum didn’t cause that. It’s something that’s always been in me and to be honest I’ve ever never in my life felt completely confident. I believe the combination of my mum and not making/having any friends in high school I have to reflect on my years in high school for a minute because my lack of confidence right now is probably simply because I had made zero friends in my six years of high school. You know, the psychological effects of not belong to a group, all that jazz.
4. Never call my kids fat. Don’t even get me started about this. Children learn that being fat is a bad thing, and when your mum calls you fat? No bueno. It’s one of the things you shouldn’t ever say. If you’re worried your child is getting too “fat”, which absolutely wasn’t the case for me by the way, just stop buying so much sweets. Tell them you want them to be healthy, just bring it positively.
5. Don’t shove my own beliefs down my children’s throat and don’t ridicule their own beliefs. I think children already base most their beliefs on what parents tell them at home, but what if your child has some beliefs you don’t agree with? Because that’s bound to happen one day. So what if your child wants to become a vegetarian, don’t make fun of them for that. If it’s what they believe in, support them. And if you really can’t wrap your mind around it, just don’t say anything bad about it.
6. Admit my mistakes. I’ve noticed that my mum has a difficult time admitting her mistakes to me. For if I might forget this, I’m going to give this as an example: I just walked downstairs and was standing in the kitchen grabbing some food. My mum was watching television and I have no idea what it was, but there were two women kissing. While I was in the room, she yelled in disgust: “Eww, GROSS, those two girls kissing each other, ugh! I’m going to take a shower, you go and watch it if you want.” I’m not straight, my mum knows I like girls, yet she didn’t even think about what she said. I laughed it off and ignored it, but later that night I did ask her why she was acting so weird and her response: “Yeaaaah well, I’m sorry but I just don’t like seeing it and I can’t change myself.” I even tried explaining her why it bothered me, by telling her it’s a useless, offensive thing to say when I’m around and by asking her if she could keep the fact that I’m not straight into account, or could just not say those type of things when I’m in the room, but alas, her attitude didn’t change and she kept defending herself with the exact same sentence. I let it rest. Anyway, the moral here is that she either just didn’t want to admit that she was wrong here, or actually didn’t get it, which I can’t imagine by the way. I feel like my mum thinks she’s being attacked by me every time she says a hurtful thing and I defend myself, but in my point of view I’m just trying to make her realise that she hurts me with certain things she says. Whenever my child tries to correct me or tells me I’m doing the wrong thing, I don’t want to be blind for that, but I want to learn from it. I think everyone can learn new things from everyone, despite their age because honestly, age doesn’t measure knowledge about the world and life-experience correctly. I know a whole lot of old, ignorant humans.
7. Don’t see my children as ignorant. I don’t want to underestimate my child’s knowledge. Of course, as you’re older as a parent you do know more but by the time your child’s 18 years old, you’re not that superior anymore as a parent. In my experience, a lot of parents still see their 18+ children as ignorant and stupid, but they know a lot more than you think. Of course, they probably haven’t been through some of the stuff you’ve been through, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know anything about this world. We all know different things because we categorize everything from our own experience and no one knows the same things or perceives them in exactly the same way.
I’m not sure if this list is complete. And I’ve realized that I’ve only written down things having to do with my mum. That’s of course because I’m a woman too and I’ll be a mother and not a father. The thing is, I guess, that my father basically hasn’t been involved much. He is there, my parents aren’t divorced and he’s great, but my dad didn’t actively participated in raising us. So basically, it’s pretty hard to make any remarks. Besides the fact that he should’ve participated more. Also, the chances or me having a man as my husband aren’t that big anyway, so ha.