When my youngest child was a few months old I decided to pursue a career as a counselor. I studied early in the mornings before the family arose. I completed the Diploma but that is as far as I went. Later it became obvious to me I had completed the Diploma as a guide through parenting and motherhood. The knowledge I had gained from my studies helped me to understand each of my children had individual needs and wants.
There has never been a manual for parenting and motherhood. Why? The reason, I believe, is no two people can raise a child or children the exact same way. Being a parent is as individual as each one of us. Even if we had a manual of instructions we could follow the results would differ from one child to the next.
As a parent, my family dynamic began with a mom and a dad having three girls. Later becoming a mom with three girls with a partner. My partner was a father figure, however, he did not attribute to decisions regarding the parenting of my children.
Every child is an individual, from birth to death. Each will learn at a different level and pace no matter how strictly a parent follows a plan. A plan we may have devised from our own childhood experience from our own parent’s skills. What worked for us as children and what didn’t. However, we should keep in mind the results of the lessons learned will differ from child to child, and from adult to adult.
Each individual child will have a different perspective of the same experience. Therefore using the same discipline for each child may not have the same outcome. And a technique we may use to teach one child may not work for the next, this is obvious to parents with multiple children. Also necessary to keep in mind throughout the parenting and motherhood journey.
As each child enters the family hierarchy they will learn from the family members preceding them. The first child learns from mom and dad in the immediate family environment. The second child learns from mom, dad, and their eldest sibling, and so on. The youngest child has multiple teachers compared to their eldest sibling.
Three Children Under Four
The first child enjoys an investment of time which a parent cannot afford the children yet to come, no matter how hard you try. Being a stay at home mom my eldest daughter spent twenty-four hours a day seven days a week with me, give or take.
I am a huge advocate of boundaries and routine and being a stay at home mom compliments this strategy. Luckily my children thrived on boundaries and routine and responded positively to my strategy. They were raised with meal times, bathing times, bedtimes and any other routine requiring a time
My eldest had three years before her first sibling came. Three years is a lot of time without distractions. She was my prototype, and I say that endearingly. She was well prepared for the arrival of her two sisters and a great help for me as they came. Just like a mini-mom instinctively knowing how to assist when the need arose. The need arose after the birth of my third daughter, twelve months after her sister, my second. It was all hands on deck after the third.
It was a busy time, having three children under the age of four. My eldest daughter took on the role of assistant mom, completely her choice. She simply eased into the role and for that, I was thankful, even though she was only four herself. She helped dress and feed her sisters and watched them while I did chores. Of course, I checked them constantly and she would call out at the slightest change. She was my little savior and lovingly doted on her younger sisters.
Parenting and Motherhood of Individuals
Once personalities begin to develop, usually around the age of eighteen months when a child learns how to communicate their own way. With gestures, facial expressions and the like. Individuality becomes obvious and parenting becomes a one on one experience.
I found what works for one will not necessarily work for all. Each child has a different perspective of the same experience depending on their personality. I initially began to parent using the skills of my parents but realized those skills did not suit my own children given the difference between generations and society as a whole. So I developed my own skills trusting my instincts.
For instance, my father was a strong believer in us having to finish every last spoonful of food on our plates. I believed once a child is full by somehow indicating they do not want anymore, then continuing to coax the last few mouthfuls was not an option to me. After all, a child will eat until satisfied at one sitting.
Of course, my experience of my parents was my guidance as technology as we know it today was not a big part of life in the early nineties. Google was not available and ideas and options came from those directly in our lives. There were many times when I surprised myself by uttering words I never thought I’d utter, words my parents would use that would make me cringe. I would say “I can’t believe I said that I sound like my mother and I hated when she said that to me.” I realized no matter how much I tried not to emulate my childhood dislikes of my parents’ skills they would tend to pop up every now and then during my parenting and motherhood journey.
Learning from my studies and implementing the learnings was the best thing I could have done. It helped me to notice the individuality of each of my girls. I could determine what approach worked for one or two of them by their reactions and body language, facial expressions and the like.
Unfortunately, I was a yeller, and my youngest was an indication to me yelling was not a good option. If I yelled, in general, it did not phase her, however, if the yelling was aimed directly at her, she would shudder. Noticing her reaction helped me change my approach to her, for the most part.
To cater to a child’s individuality you simply have to notice their individual reactions to a particular experience. Notice it and log it for future reference. It is always in your best interest as a parent to cater to each child’s individual needs to obtain the best results for learning outcomes. It is not favorable to approach parenting with a group mentality, for the parent’s sanity and the child’s wellbeing.
If you are in tune with your child as an individual you will obtain the best possible outcome, whether you are teaching something new or disciplining bad behavior. Keep in mind the approach for one is not necessarily the approach for all. After a time you will begin to notice their similarities and differences and your parenting will be a positive and enjoyable experience.
Siblings Teaching Each Other
My second child, the middle child, was an expert at learning from her siblings. She was an observer. If her older or younger sister were in trouble for whatever reason she would take it on. Deciding it wasn’t worth the effort to attempt something she could see was not in her best interest after observing the outcome.
From very young ages I taught my children independence. Once they each started school they made their own breakfast and lunch and did their own hair. However, they all assisted each other as the learning approached.
I remember my middle daughter teaching her younger sister to put her hair up prior to starting her first year of school. I could hear them in the bathroom as she guided her younger sister through the steps, over and over. Then the door opened and out she came brimming with pride.
She skipped into the lounge room and blurted, “What do you think Mom?” As she completed a twirl giving me the whole view. Trying not to laugh at the disheveled outcome I replied, “Looks great sweetheart, well done.” Off she went grinning from ear to ear.
The following day she entered the classroom on her first day of school. The teacher smiled as we approached and commented, “Doing our own hair, are we?” I nodded and said, “Yes we are.” From that day forward the hairdo just got better and better because practice makes perfect. At that age, she didn’t get teased for her appearance, she gained encouragement from everybody, students and parents. Independence is a positive attribute for a child and a necessary attribute for adulthood. During parenting and motherhood of my daughters, I always encouraged independence if I notice my girls were ready to take it on.
Single Approach Parenting and Motherhood
Although the father of my children and I had divorced and I eventually became a partnered parent, my partner did not contribute to my decisions. My partner has been a great father figure which is more evident now my daughters are adults. They all have respect for him. My decisions during the years could only be my own as their father was by no means receptive to my partner’s input. For the sake of my daughters, it was best to parent them as a single mom.
Parenting is not an easy task the responsibility is epic. So many experiences, so much to teach and learn. None of us are completely ready for what is to come no matter how prepared we try to be. We are all individuals who are able to learn from each other different skills and options throughout the years. It is not humanly possible to know all the answers when they are required. There are books and experts available for guidance, but no one person has all the answers.
Parenting and motherhood is a day by day experience whereby we teach our children and we learn from them as well. Whether a single parent or partnered our best is all we are able to achieve. Judgment may come from others on your parenting skills, but, remember they are not with you every minute of every day. They did not experience your entire journey from your perspective.
As adults, your children may judge your parenting skills at some point. However, upon the arrival of their own children, they may begin to understand just how challenging it is and perhaps change their views. Having similar experience in a situation will always silence criticism to some degree.
Whether we choose to be a parent or it happens unexpectedly we will always find a way to get through parenthood to the best of our ability. There is guidance available from many different sources. Navigate your own journey. After all, a parent knows their child better than anyone so make your decisions with this knowledge and belief. There are parents who have come to experience not even the experts have all the correct answers. Trust your instincts and your bond to guide you.
My three daughters are now adults in their twenties, one is a mom herself. They amaze me daily as I share their individual journeys. There were times I had my doubts about my parenting and motherhood skills, but they are living proof I achieved my very best result.