Last Friday I began eating solid food (including an egg for protein) at lunchtimes. Last Saturday (with CJ on hand) I taught a student for an hour (at home) without incident. Last Sunday (with CJ driving) I actually left the house for non-medical reasons (oooOOOoooh). Yesterday I began reducing my ondaz zydis medication, taking one instead of two, and substituting a maxolon for the other one. It didn’t feel great, but it’s certainly surviveable.
Today marks twelve weeks. I have one week left of first trimester, and this time next week I’ll be blogging about my twelve-week ultrasound (which will likely change the official due date, based on measurements of the baby).
CJ lives very much in the present. I. . . don’t. CJ is happier, calmer and less likely to show up on time (or at all, sometimes). I’m the one who figures out things like, “When we marry, CJ should have a study, at least in the beginning” because I can clearly see the stress that would result if he didn’t (he is messy; I am OCD-ishly tidy). When we think of parenthood, CJ sees visions of playing with children. I ask questions like, “What is parenthood FOR?”
I’ve concluded that the purpose of parenthood is to do our best to create a “good” adult. Here’s the list I’ve come up with for what that means, with my ideas of how to actually teach it.
In no particular order. . .
1. Physical health & Eating.
They need to know how to cook healthy meals and how to exercise. We teach this by modelling (particularly with exercise – which, amazingly, we both actually do – and how much junk food we eat), and by consistently cooking healthy meals (which sets a healthy standard of “normal”, as my parents did for me). Our kids will probably be hilariously uncoordinated, so we’ll need to start early (before they know they suck) at finding sports and exercise that they enjoy.
They need to know how to delay gratification by not buying things immediately or falling into credit card traps. They need to know how to manage household finances, and that you really do have to do your tax return.
We teach this by giving them an increasing allowance and hopefully teaching them to save up when they want a larger item than lollies. We live sensibly ourselves, and slowly involve them in observing how much we spend on groceries, petrol etc as opposed to how much we earn. When they’re earning above a certain amount but still living at home, we start charging rent (ideally we’ll have a bedsitter they can move into at a certain point, so they can learn how to live independently without it all happening at once).
3. Running a household
It’s difficult to coordinate food, bills, cleaning, washing, working, and a social life. So our kids will do plenty of chores – all chores, including the rare ones like cleaning gutters. At certain ages, the chores will be just theirs (eg shopping for their own clothes with their own money, doing their own washing). The bedsit plan comes into play again here.
4. Smart romance (and parenthood)
Mostly this will be us (and our parents) modelling how romantic partners should treat each other, and (hopefully) how parents should treat their children. Hopefully our children will realise that kindness and good conversation are the most important qualities to look for, if you want to live happily ever after. I think pets help teach some of the responsibilites (eg cleaning up after accidents, and training good behaviour with consistent discipline) that are useful in parenthood.
“It’s like having a dog that slowly learns to talk” – Dr Cox on his son, from Scrubs.
5. Human relationships
Our kids need to know how to hold a conversation, how to make friends, how to accept people who are different, when to listen to peer pressure (shower = yes; drugs = no), and how to treat people. Modelling comes into play again, but I also plan to do my best to encourage good friendships in primary school (when I still have some influence) in hopes that kids from various families will continue to teach one another when I’m just a blobby shape that makes food. Several of my friends (friends who I like and respect, and think will produce good kids) have had/will have babies soon, so I’m angling for our kids and theirs to spend plenty of time together. I also plan to have our own two kids sharing a room until they’re about ten – which builds character, but also celebrates their increasing maturity when they get their own room.
I’ll do my best, but CJ is going to be much better at teaching this than I am. I can love the kids unconditionally, though. That should help.
7. God/spiritual health
I’ll take them to church and hopefully send them to a Christian primary school, but ultimately the only thing I can teach about spirituality is honesty (and respect for others).
8. Job and/or contributing to society in a healthy way.
I talked about this last week.
9. Contentment/psychological health
Again, CJ shines here. Probably the greatest gift I can give is to teach them resilience – which I’ll teach by letting them fall over in the playground, or make that obvious (but non-fatal) mistake – possibly after warning them it’s not a great idea. Some mistakes harm us permanently, but others teach us that a scraped knee is okay. The second type of mistake is very important, and needs to be made.
10. What do you think? Have I left something out?
8 thoughts on “The purpose of parenthood”
How about ‘it’s ok to disagree’?
Must be carefully introduced when kids are old enough to understand that disagreeing doesn’t make them right, and that other people’s ideas must be respected. But I think it’s important to foster the understanding that as individuals, we all think differently, and that just because Mum, Dad, friends, elders etc have a particular perspective, it doesn’t mean that it is right (at least not right for everyone).
I think it’s is pretty critical that people really understand that it’s ok to think differently to those around us. Because when you do, it is often quite difficult to live with. Others dont always respect it, or understand it, and it can really undermine confidence and sense of identity.
‘I am not an automaton created by my parents and society. I am a valuable and unique individual with a mind of my own.’
Somehow, this is more than self-worth. Yet feeds off it 🙂
Sounds good to me, Ann. I was thinking something like that – teaching a child critical thinking is very important, and you can’t rely on a school to teach it. I think it’s important to talk about things like advertising with children: What is this commercial saying? Is it a good deal? How are they trying to make you buy/do something? What are they trying to hide? This extends later to questioning rules: Why do we have this rule? What happens if it isn’t there? When is it OK to *not* follow a rule? And you’ll likely want to talk to them about what they watch/read etc. Why was that book scary? How is it different from the real world? What would you do if it happened to you? This big thing happened on the news, and what effect does it have on you? How is the news making it more (or less) than it actually is? Why can’t Uncle X marry his partner?
Basically, from my perspective, the approach is half of Ann’s “I am not an automaton”, and half teaching a child how to analyse new information for themselves by evaluating the evidence.
W: That’s the other side of the same coin, I think. We mock ads (and critique books, films, and sermons) a lot around here, so that should help.
Ann: That sound pretty handy, yes. It was something my parents taught by letting me disagree with them.
Consider too what parenting can teach the parent. I read recently (and I will think about where I read it) that having a child can knock the last bit of selfishness out of a person. Having to put yourself second in such an all encompassing way, especially at the beginning of this mind-blowing experience where you suddenly find yourself totally responsible for the survival of another human being. Sure pregnancy gives you a taste of this, but having a new born is a whole new school for growing up fast! And yet …. somehow …. our little one survives, and we are changed forever.
Barbara: The difficulty of raising children is part of the appeal. Odd, I know. I did forget to add the caveat above that I expect all my plans will fall out the window more or less instantly. That’s just what happens. But I think the hopes and thoughts and plans have value anyway.
I would add “knowledge”.. It’s great to know stuff and to encourage the curious mind has to be a big part of being a parent, I believe.
Greggorton: Our children come from long liens of nerds in either direction. CJ and I have both worked as tutors for years. If they don’t end up knowledgable, I’ll be deeply startled.
Computer and (safe) internet skills via CJ – definitely a life necessity.