Monkey See Monkey Do-Parenting

Again I’ve been pondering the topic of parenting. (consdiering that’s about all I do…not hard to guess why!) Last night I watched a story about parenting and the way to turn out a ‘good child’ it suggested that older mothers and younger fathers were the best blend for a good child.

It mentioned the quality of the mens young sperm, and I am guessing that perhaps the calmer more settled nature of an older woman might be what the story was trying to portray.

(Go cougars)

But seriously I don’t think it matters all that much.

*And before I go further, I’d like to remind everyone that these are MY opinions…MINE alone, I am not forcing them upon you, you may choose to, or NOT TO read them. Some is based on facts, most is just my way of thinking and theories based on my own personal experience. DO NOT take what I say to be law. It’s not. and now that that is clear…let’s move on.*

First of all like I probably say too much, instincts are a big factor in ‘who’ should be breeding, or who we should be reproducing with. (Now, I’m talking primitive instincts here… We are animals.) Those who are ‘sexually attracted’ to each other are a naturally good breeding pair. That’s what sex is for. A purely animal attraction makes a strong, healthy child…it may not be the best for a long-term, loving relationship, but we’re talking babies not romantic dinners.

Secondly I do think that the mother is the main factor in the way a child turns out. I think that there are other factors such as environment, the company we keep, but at the end of that day I think a strong parenting foundation will over rule everything else. I did see a study once which was used to take out a parent’s input into the way a child turns out and it’s behaviour. It said that a babies personailty cannot be a direct refelction on a parents ‘role.’ They then said “take two newborn babies in the nursery. One is laying there calm, and sleeping peacfully, while the second is screaming and will not settle. Therefore how can the parent be to ‘blame’ when that child’s personality is clearly already formed? Prior to having been influenced by the said parent?”

In answer to this, I am basing purely on my own experience, I honestly believe that the nature of a child is determined during pregnancy.

How can a mother NOT influence a newborn, prior to birth?! You smoke it affects your baby, you drink it affects your baby, you eat loads of sugar it affcte the development of that babies brain….

A calm relaxed mother will turn out a calm relaxed child. A high-strung paranoid mother, you guessed it…truns out a high maintenance child.

It frustrates me that this isn’t some random fact on a pointless study yet!!!

Let’s look at some facts…(my facts) When pregnant with Bella, I was so naive, I didn’t know what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I stressed a lot, being so young with no money. I was always worried.  I didn’t sleep well and anything that was new to me I was on the phone to the doctor or took a visit to hospital. I didn’t know that backache was normal, I didn’t know how long morning/night sickness would last. I didn’t know that Braxton hicks were perfectly normal. I didn’t know anything, I was stressed, worried and far from calm.

I turned out a baby who woke 9 times a night, who immediately screamed murder the moment anything went wrong. I didn’t get a full night sleep until she was 2 years old. She was difficult and needy. But thankfully she was my first, I didn’t know it could have been different.

I then went on to make things worse. I just loved her so much, she was my perfect -despite being tough- baby. I bought her new clothes every week, if she wanted a toy I bought it no questions asked. I gave her everything, took her everywhere because that’s what I thought I was meant to do.

I thought I was being a brilliant parent. My child had the best. My child had everything.

I was so wrong. I was instilling in her that if she wanted something, she simply got it, if she was bored she was instantly entertained. I was creating a spoilt high maintenance child.

Now at 10 almost 11, she gets bored so easily, she gets pouty and throws tantrums that I’d more likely expect from a 3-year-old. She doesn’t like it when she doesn’t get her own way and the word ‘no’ is like …the worst thing you can say.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s still my precious first baby, but I can see what I did to ‘help’ the situation. And I am ok with taking responsibility, perhaps not all because she has been taught right from wrong and the way she chooses to behave is up to her. But I do know that in my need to ‘show’ her my love I did her an injustice.

I strongly believe that the first 5 years are so important to establishing  the base traits in a child. Whether that child is going to be arrogant and needy, kind and caring. And I know that sounds like ‘training’ or something else unpleasant…but it isn’t.

Children really are perfect, open, honest little creatures until we as adults get our hands and minds and ideas into them.

Each and every day we indirectly teach them how to be a good/bad person.

I’ll add more to that later.

In contrast to Bella and the pregnancy I had with her, I then 5 years later, was more aware, more informed and far more relaxed when I fell pregnant with Sophie. It is funny how as a first time mum we know nothing at all, and yet somehow we think we know everything. No one wants to say anything to us because we cry and get offended. Only we’re doing ourselves a massive injustice but not informing ourselves s much as possible.

Besides being impatient to meet my new little girl I was relaxed. I was calm. I sat for hours and just rested while talking quietly to my baby.

I read books each night to Bella which Sophie would have heard from about 20 weeks gestation. I made sure I remained calm and never raised my voice. I ate healthier, I mean I still ate cake but due to being admitted to hospital for a week with an inflamed gall bladder I had no choice but to stick to fruits, nuts and lean meats. The amount of sugar I ate was minimal (and we all know what sugar does to a child, let alone one that isn’t even born yet!)

She turned out to be the most placid baby. It was heavenly after Bella, I hadn’t even realised exactly how difficult Bella had been until I had Sophie.

I chose not to indulge in every ‘want’ Sophie had. There’s this whole guilt thing that happens when you have more than one child. If one receives something then both (or all 5) need to get the same.

It gets pricey!

I did however decide to spoil her with love.

With Bella going to school, I’d clean up while Sophie had her nap and afterwards I’d just sit and feed and cuddle her. Talk to her with a smile on my face, calmly and quietly. It soothed her immediately as that’s what she’d spent months listening to in the womb.

My whole nature around her was so ….natural. So at peace. I called her my sunshine baby, she just had a smile that could warm the soul.

I love pregnancy and bonding with that baby before it’s even here, moulding that perfect little being before it’s even born. Remaining calm, relaxed and at peace. I could just feel my baby stop moving as if to pause and listen to my voice. It would make my heart swell to think that my unborn baby found my voice pleasant and calming.

She loved me before she’d met me. The feeling was mutual.

Then there was Violet. The moment I found out I was pregnant with her was a major stress. The horrible relationship I was in, the fact that she wasn’t planned and was to be born into a broken family. She wasn’t going to have a father from day dot. My whole world was chaos.

I knew….

I just knew when I was pregnant that things would become very difficult. No matter how hard I tried to be calm and placid during the pregnancy I just couldn’t, with all the drama and arguing and it just wasn’t pleasant. And then to get half way and begin to bleed thinking that I was losing her was the final straw. I put everything out of my mind and carried on with the mess of a life I had at the time forgetting that I was even pregnant.

No wonder she came out screaming and practically didn’t stop until she could speak and now, she is very touchy. If something goes wrong, you’ll know it with her ear piercing squeals! She won’t ask for help, just immediatly screams.

I can’t blame her on being a difficult baby. I know how that happened. She was born to a mixed up, stressed out mother, could I really expect a placid happy baby after the turoil she’d felt inside of me?

Molly’s pregnancy was a little stressful too. We’d just moved interstate. I hadn’t planned on having more than 3 kids and she was totally unplanned and out of the blue. I freaked. Glen’s reaction calmed me and made me more relaxed. By the fourth time around I knew everything that was going on, each ache, pain, cramp…everything had been done and said.

I was calm and relaxed, I wasn’t even impatient like before. I simply knew that when she was ready she would come. I didn’t wish for her to hurry up. She was 9 days late and a perfect little thing. I cuddled and hugged her, tickled her and played with her. She is a lot like Sophie in a more ‘energetic’ way and I can see why. As much as Glen loved the girls, Molly was his first baby. She was spoilt by him. And I allowed it. I knew she’d have a special little place for him and he gave in to every whine, every sook.

she’s now the most loving yet devilish little thing. Energetic and cheeky.

I’m looking forward to how she’ll grow and change.

Buddy, being planned, being the fifth was a totally ideal pregnancy. Except for the couple of months when it looked like I had a second low-lying placenta like with Violet.

Beside that, I was almost unaware that I was pregnant, it was just so natural by now. I talked to him, poked his foot when he shoved it against my tummy. We had torches at night and shined them onto my belly and watched him prodding at it. Played music to him and watched him squirm about (he LOVES music now) I stroked my belly and had a general sense of love and caring towards my baby belly.

A quiet, peacful love.

He turned out perfect. As they all did regardless of their nature. But he’s just so loving. It almost makes me cry.

The other day I was crouched down talking to him and Molly while at the kid’s school fete when a lady I know walked over and crouched down too, to have a chat. Buddy slowly approached her smiling, he began to stroke her arm while looking at her so innocently and openly.

I nearly had a sook. My loving, caring baby.

He randomly walks up to me and hugs my legs. Walks into a room and lights up when he sees one of his sisters.

He really is a perfect little being.

And I want to encourage him with his natural traits.

So kind, so sweet. He gets sad if his sisters are sad, he hugs them, he shares everything with them and me. He dances the moment he hears music with the biggest smile. Even in the middle of the shops. He spent an hour dancing and spinning in the street at that said fete. He just about drew a crowd that evening.

He’s just so free.

And I’d love to take credit for that.

Just as much as I take credit for majority of my kids behaviour.

I guess he’s lucky he’s fifth. I kind of know what I am doing now in those first important 5 years. Loving, listening, taking time, hugging, smiling and just being there.

I’ve scrapped my ‘materialistic’ love long ago. A hug and a story will make my kids feel much better on the inside than a new Barbie doll will.

I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking they must have expensive brands, take-away foods, the ‘in trend’ toys that everyone MUST have to make them feel adjusted and a part of society.

I’m aiming to spend as much time with them while they’re small. Yes it can be tough sometimes and I do often feel like I have no time for me. But I do console myself with the fact that I’m raising some pretty amazing little people.

They’re kind, and put others first. Violet is more than willing to give her favorite toy to the little boys next door to play with. I like that they’re ok with sharing. She can see how happy those boys are playing with her things and she enjoys that. I’m so proud of her for doing that at the young age of 4.

Not many kids are ok to share now a days.

They share all their clothes with each other. I love to hear them while making breakfast…

“Molly can I wear this dress?”

“Yes Biolet! You can. Can I have your pants?”

“Sure Molly Moo, you can, if you let me have your head band today.”

“No Biolet, give me your air guitar and you can.”

And so on…it goes on and on, but they negotiate and make sure things are in their eyes ‘even.’ Bella and Sophie fight like cats and dogs, but I can trust that once they’re ‘over it’ they’ll make up without interference. I like that each one can stand their own ground and still they can accept each others point of view in the end and be friends again, even if they didn’t come to a total agreement.

My tips on a ‘good’ child (they’re all good even the naughty ones, but I do think we can guide and help along good, prefered behaviours.)

1. A calm relaxed pregnancy, free of stress, worry, too much activity, with considerations to health. Plus REST! And trying not to be too impatient. Do not rush to accept an induced labour. It’s not natural, more painful and in all honesty…even if that baby is late, it is NOT staying in there forever. Let baby come into the world on its own terms. (Food example I ate heaps of junk when pregnant with Bella, her preference is junk. Sophie I ate nothing but fruit, nuts lean meat…she actually likes vegetables. People freak out when my kids choose to eat something green first!)

2. Once baby is born, let things happen naturally. As a first time mum it is hard to do that because we’ve got nothing to base anything on regardless of how much baby sitting or exposure you’ve had. We also think we must try to ‘act’ like we know it all and don’t like to ask for help in the fear that we’ll look like ‘bad’ mothers. It isn’t the case and mothering doesn’t come naturally for some and that does not mean your not good at it. Try not to stress. A baby WILL feel what you feel, trying to settle a baby when your stressed, high-strung and frustrated is just NOT going to happen. Babies cry, it’s their job. It’s their only form of communication. Let them do it and calm them with YOUR relaxed nature. Don’t try to force breast-feeding/ sleeping…..again, if your stressed and rushing. It just won’t happen.

3. A baby is not going to feel the love that you feel when buying them a brand new toy or outfit. They WILL however feel they security and caring that comes from a cuddle or stroking their little head. If spoiling must be done, do it with actions, attention and love, NOT things a baby won’t get it, they’ll get a sense of ‘things’ being more important than people. Remember….we are teathing them how to be parent’s too.

4. A mother’s actions will lead the example for their child. I chose to stop swearing the moment I found out I was pregnant. I just didn’t feel it was something I wanted my children to hear coming from my mouth. I am ok with them hearing it from others, just as long as it’s not me. Bella has sworn 2 times (that I know of) once repeating what someone else had said and once when she came home from school telling me what her friend had said. A child will do just about anything a mother does. If you spend time picking pimples in the mirror, your child will do the same and ‘pretend’ to pick at things, if you check out your bum and make mentions of it ‘being big’ so will your little girl. A good sense of self comes from a parent being comfortable with themselves regardless of size, shape, colour, pimples or not! If you respect others and be kind, helping and loving, your child will think this is appropriate behaviour.

5. Let kids fight their own battles to a certain extent. One of my favorite ‘smirking’ moments is when the girls begin to argue. A while ago Violet would just ‘give in’ when someone else was trying to take things from her. I told her that she needed to tell whoever it is that it’s not ok and you want it back. I do not encourage hitting or any physical ‘fighting’ but they need to know that I won’t fight their battles, that they need to stand up for themselves and that it is ok to do so in a calm manner. I was so proud of Sophie when her teacher told me a bout an ‘incident’ at school. Sophie had a ball and playing with it, another boy came over and snatched it from her. She told him it wasn’t nice and that she was playing with it. Finally he gave it back to her, but she then gave it to the boy and said ” You want it more than me, you can have it.” She walked off to play with something else. I liked that she stood up for herself, made it clear that she didn’t like what he’d done but in the end decided that if he wanted it so badly that she could just play with something else.

6. Encourage honesty. Sophie mentioned to me only yesterday (in a very loving way) that my arms are fat. I laughed, and said ‘awww, that makes me a bit sad.’ I mean it’s true but I wanted her to understand that while something might be true, it can hurt someones feelings. Not everything that is true needs to be stated. I didn’t get angry and tell her never to say things like that again, just that she needed to think about if it will help someone by saying something like that. (probably helps me want to lose weight!) We encourage them to hug each other and that if they are happy, sad, or cranky at each other that they can say it without being mean. Often we hug and kiss our kids but don’t teach them to hug and love their siblings.

7. Listen to them speak. LET them speak. I do not at all like the saying ‘children should be seen and never heard.’ Yes, it would be heavenly to have some peace and quiet now and then. Our house gets awfully loud. But to not listen to them is basically like saying that they don’t matter. My kids butt into conversations ALL THE TIME, I tell them to wait and be patient while I and whoever finishes and then turn my attention to them. Mostly it’s not at all that important, but to them just being heard is the important part. Talk to them to, about anything. It makes them feel valid and worthy of a conversation even if it really is pointless to you. It means the world to them to have a ‘grown up’ conversation with their mummy.

8. Be honest with them! I watched a thing the other night on how kids have a sense of being ‘too good’ and it leads them to be ‘up themselves’ basically the story was saying that as parents we love our kids and want them to think they are ‘the best.’ They’re our child, everyone thinks their child is the very best but in some cases it’s not true and we shouldn’t exaggerate and lead them to believe things that aren’t true. I think in order to have a grounded ‘down to earth’ child they must be aware of the truth. Bella came home from school telling me about a girl who is an amazing singer and asked if I’d listen to her song. After she sang I told her “Thats really good Bella, maybe with some practise and a bit more confidence you could get even better?” She agreed and spent the rest of the night singing to her sisters to build her confidence and to practise. She was good, but she was nervous and in all honesty if she practised, maybe had some lessons one day she could be really really good. Tell them the truth. If you can’t who will???

9. What we say can impact our kids so much. We are their biggest influence. After discussions on Facebook this morning I came to be concerned. I posted a beautiful picture of a little blond, fair girl and a little dark-haired, brown-skinned boy hugging it had the words “racism is taught, we are not born with it.” or something like that and it is so true. Little boys and girls dark, fair, green and purple play happily together unaware of gender, colour, race it is only our influence that changes that. Same with religion, which was also discussed. What we decide to expose our children to and our personal preferences shape our kids. They always want to make us happy and to have parents who are proud of them. What better way than to mimic our choices.

10. Finally….and possibly most importantly sleep and eating habits! Working in the pre-school the majority of ‘naughty’ kids were either tired and running on ‘energy fumes’ it’s almost like a hyper madness before they crash OR they’d been eating junk! My kids aren’t vegans or vegetarians. We eat take away occasionally, cake, sugar. But not everyday. Healthy food must be a priority. I know some kids are difficult, but seriously they won’t starve themselves and if their only option is healthy foods they will eventually eat it. A love of WATER is taught to kids too, I never give my babies juice or cordials. Before the age of one my babies drink milk or boiled water (There are stupid reccomendations out about water ‘damaging’ a childs stomach lining, all my babies have drank water and are fine, plus in old school days mother’s were told to give babies orange and prune juices! Water. How silly.) Water is essential to health. My kids ask for water and only water. Violet and Sophie choose it over coke on our junk night! I love water too, so if your drinking it, it must be good! And sleep, getting babies into a good habit at a young age is great. A set bed time every night is good for growing bodies and minds. Kids under the age of 8 usually require 12 hours. Our rule in our house is bed at 7-7.30pm stories read, chat, hugs and giggles, lights out, door shut. People are again amazed at how easily my kids go to bed. They’ve been doing it since birth, it is what they do.

A good sleep and healthy food. It isn’t too difficult and can avoid lots of hyper and naughty behaviours.

This whole parenting thing is pretty tough and no one ever gets it 100% right ever. I do think they are things we can do to guide our kids onto the correct paths.

Personally I aim to raise open-minded, free spirits who can choose for themselves the lives that they will lead. I am ok with them wanting to be lawyers, I am also ok if they want to work at Maccas, I am also ok if they chose not to work as long as they are not affecting anyone else in their decision. I am ok if one ends up a pregnant teen, I am ok if one turns out gay. I am ok with them turning into massive christians and I am ok if they believe in Buddha.

I am ok with whatever they choose as long as I know it is THEIR own choice.

I hope not to spoil them with things but instead to make them feel secure and loved. I hope that they feel more joy in giving than in taking. I hope that they are willing to go without so that someone else who has a greater need is ok. I hope that they will donate unwanted goods. I hope that they accept people without judgement. I hope that they stand up for themselves when people treat them wrong.

I hope they are passionate. I hope they are strong. I hope they are honest. I hope they are open. I hope they can do far more good than bad.

I am trying to keep my opinions, my values and all my own ideas of life, religion, relatioships…everything I think…..out of their equation. If they ask me a question I give them my honest answer but I will not sit down and discuss what I want them to be, say or do. I am attempting to leave that side of their canvas blank for them to fill with their own mistakes, successes and experiences.

All I aim for is the base of a good human being and from their they can build.

We cannot build their lives for them because it will turn out weak. We can only hope to mould a strong foundation from which they can soar on their own winds.

Good luck!

(P.s don’t listen to me.)

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