One of the most satisfying and enjoyable parts of being a parent is having the opportunity to give my children the experiences and opportunities that I didn’t have as a child.
As I look back over my childhood and the way I was raised, I can see there are things my own four daughters have been able to experience that I never did. Things that I am both grateful for and also kind of sad about. So let’s begin.
Fast, touch-screen technology
When I was a child, I remember it taking about ten minutes for the dial-up modem to finally connect to the internet so I could play on Encarta or My Creative Writer on the computer. My parents were able to control my access to what I could view because there wasn’t really that much to begin with. The technology was slow, and things took time – a foreign concept to my own children.
These days, technology is everywhere and it’s not only super-fast but it’s addictive, too. It can be very daunting for me as a parent as I try and limit what negative influences my daughters interact with on the world wide web.
Read more about family life:
- 7 easy-to-avoid parenting mistakes I can’t stop making
- Ewww: 10 gross things you’ll do to earn your parent stripes
- (Sibling) love is dead: Why big family living is nothing like ‘The Brady Bunch’
Education about food
When I was growing up, lunch was a soggy peanut butter sandwich, a partially-thawed out yoghurt and an apple. A few times a term I got extra lucky and was able to buy three mini party pies from the tuck shop which came out hot and always burned the roof of my mouth. There was no such thing as the “lunchbox police” and parents were not expected to provide picture-perfect bento boxes for their offspring.
Dinner was a standard meat and three veg. Food was food. These days, there is so much more information and education about the food we eat and what it does to our body. My daughters are growing up understanding what preservatives and additives are and how they affect them, and they know all about the benefits of a whole food diet. Is ignorance bliss? I’m not sure. I am certain that my girls eat better than I ever did.
Siblings, allllll the siblings
Despite growing up with over 25 first cousins myself, I was an only child. And then, funnily enough, I went on to have four daughters of my own. However, I never got to experience the kinship that my daughters have with each other. As you can imagine, it has been a bit of a learning curve for me to witness the different sibling relationships between my girls.
My husband grew up with one sister, and I have vivid memories of him reassuring me when my girls were young and fighting with each other – hammer and tong. “This is totally normal, babe. This is what siblings do,” he would say. Well, hello there, baptism by fire. I feel so fortunate to have been able to give my daughters each other to grow up with. I only wish I’d had the same.
Prolonged childhood innocence in a world that is in a rush for them to grow up
All children seem to have this innate desire to grow up, get bigger and do more things – especially the things adults do. I know, because I was one of those children, yearning for more independence and keen to ditch my childhood training wheels.
Looking back, I realise I grew up too fast. I was exposed to things that completely robbed me of my childhood innocence way too early. I needed more time to be a kid, to simply climb trees and ride bikes without it getting more complicated than that. As a result, preserving the innocence of my children and making sure they get a free, open and play-based childhood is something I am very passionate about.
Parents who are on the same page
My parents spent seven years trying to conceive me, but not much time talking to each other about what kind of parents they wanted to be and how they’d raise me when I arrived. As a result, I remember there being many, many disagreements between them about discipline and parenting philosophies. It wasn’t pleasant. So this meant that even before my husband and I conceived our first daughter, we were having chats about what kind of parents we each wanted to be.
We discussed whether we’d smack, how we’d manage poor behaviour, whether we would shame, what we’d do when things were really hard and how we’d cope. It didn’t matter that those things shifted over time – it was more about the fact that we were talking about them. We agreed that we’d always endeavour to meet in the middle. Because of this, our daughters have always had consistent boundaries from both my wonderful husband and me, and they always know where we stand – because it’s the same. There is no second-guessing because my husband and I take parenting pretty seriously and approach it from a unified front.
Whether you decide to raise your children the way your parents raised you, or whether you choose to do the opposite – it’s a gift to be given the opportunity. It’s always interesting to be able to sit back and reflect on the kind of childhood our children are experiencing and the memories they are making, too. Every moment counts, and this time is fleeting.