Tuesday 10 January 2012

Does Parenting Get Harder As They Grow Up?

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I never realised what a minefield I had let myself in for when I decided to have a baby!  If I had known, would it have stopped me? Probably not, but it would have been nice to at least feel a little bit prepared for all the tough stuff that comes along as they grow up.  Every few months there is a new challenge to deal with and I am not entirely sure that I am adequately equipped. 

Learning as you go along, on the job so to speak seems to be the order of the day. When they are babes you have to learn all about feeding, bathing, changing and winding them amongst other things but there is pretty much logic to all this and once you have mastered a good routine it mostly goes along like clockwork and then they crawl, walk and run and start to put a spanner in the works but fear not as there are reigns and buggies to hold them back and let you breath easy.

What I am now just starting to realise is that the older they get the harder the emotional and behavioural stuff gets. Not just for the child but for the parents too. Toddler tantrums do not even compare when you start to deal with bullying, manipulative friendships, spiteful behaviour and generally acting without thinking through any consequences. However, someone said to me the other day I had to remember that they were kids and not adults and I needed to act accordingly and that has been a good reminder for me.

There have been a couple of occasions recently with one or the other of my kids where I have had to have a serious chat about behaviour and they have ended up crying and what did I want to do?  Well hug them and tell them everything is fine of course but I could not do that as it was not the right message for me to send.  Instead I had to have a firm chat about the naughty behaviour and ensure that my child starts to think through the consequences of their actions and starts to try and put themself in someone else's shoes.

I watched the shame wash over my child as they had to tell me what they had done and I was so pleased to see that shame and hear them cry.  Not because I am a heartless monster but because it showed me that my child cares, yes they get things wrong and do silly and even hurtful stuff but it is not from malice. The desire to fit in with peers is great and many kids are easily misguided. Sadly some children are just always the one who gets caught.  I do not believe any of my children are any worse than the average amongst their peers, but sadly at least one of them so far follows the trait that both dh and I have, in that we were always the child who was caught or dobbed in by the group!

I am so glad that these type of serious conversations are still far and few between but then I do only have 4 and 8 year old kids so far. Soon I expect I may be fighting battles over facebook access, playing computer games for older kids, wearing make-up, back chat and even girl/boyfriends!  Gosh now that is a scary thought.  Add hormones into the mix and it could be an explosive cocktail.  I hope I have a few years yet...

So what do you think people, does it get harder as they get older, or just different?  What do I need to know and how can I equip myself? Pearls of wisdom greatly appreciated!
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