Saturday, March 10, 2012

Teach them to fly

I have noticed recently that people tend to be quick to offer an unsolicited critique of other people’s parenting. It is with more than a bit of shame I have to count myself among the numbers.  I do try to keep my opinions to myself in most cases unless it directly effects me or my family.  As a mother of three I have been given any amount of “helpful” advice.  The best advice I have ever been given I read. 
A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher
That one line has done more to shape how I parent than every parenting book I have ever read.  I guess it also has a lot to do with how I was brought up.  My mom was a strong supporter of self sufficiency and I can remember on my 16th birthday she told me:

“I have taught you right from wrong, now it is up to you.”  
That one lesson stuck with me all these years.
I have endured all kinds of criticism about making my kids do chores without an allowance. Chores, to me, are what a family does to keep a house going.  It is not a job you are paid for.  Now, if you are asked to do something above and beyond then you might get offered payment but, no, I do not pay the kids for contributing to the running of our home.  My children have been taught that money is earned-not given; they have had to learn to find ways to earn money for things they want.  
Also, it is my firmly held belief that I should not bribe my children to like me.  I am not here to be their friend.  I am a parent who loves them enough to know when to dish out a little discipline now to save them a lot of heartache later.
Of course, it shouldn’t go without saying that I have made my share of mistakes as a parent.  Contrary to what I tell my kids, they did not come with a how-to manual. I make an attempt to own up to my mistakes and to set them right.  Being human, I do fall short of the perfection I strive to obtain.  
In the end, each family has to do what is best for their children.  I believe what is best for mine is to be taught how to be on their own so when they get out in the world they are as ready as I can make them.  It is my hope that I will have given my children the skills and knowledge to make sound moral and financial choices, as well as knowing how to take care of themselves.  We are not that different from birds in that we all need to teach our children to fly on their own.  

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