What Kind of Parent Do You Want to Be?
When we become parents, there are so many decisions that we have to make. Luckily, to begin with, we can make small decisions, such as what kind of bottles are we going to use or how do we want to decorate the nursery. Soon enough, though, you’ll have to answer some big questions, and among them are “What Kind of Parent Do You Want to Be?”
Of course, the answer will shift, adjust, and transform as your child grows, but you need to have some sort of basic groundwork for the kind of parent you want to be throughout your child’s life. I had the chance to do some introspection, and these are the qualities that I hope my child (or maybe children someday) see in me.
An Intentional Parent
I want to be an intentional parent. What exactly does that mean? Well, let me give you a bit of back story before I answer that. My entire life, I have liked to argue. If you want my opinion, you’ll get it. If you ask me a question, I’ll have an answer and be able to back up that answer a million different ways – even if that means playing devil’s advocate just to make a point.
Now, what does that have to do with being an intentional parent? As I raise my son, I want to make all of my decisions with purpose. If you ask me why I’m doing something, or not doing something, I want to be able to give you an informed answer and back myself up. Why? Not to be a mega butthole, but because I’m raising a person. That’s a big freaking deal. I want to raise my tiny person to be the best person ever, and that deserves a moment of thought.
An Experiential Parent
I want to be an experiential parent. When given the opportunity to decide between an awesome experience for my son and the “right” decision, I hope I choose the experience every single time. We only get so many minutes to spend with our children, only so many minutes to live this life, and I want to make memories with my child, not make “right” decisions.
Again, let’s back up into my own childhood. My grandparents owned a catfish farm when I was growing up. Since most people don’t know a hill of beans about a catfish farm, let me give you some basic info to make this story make more sense. When you own a catfish farm, you often transport the catfish you raise to the person that is going to buy them. What that meant for me is that my grandparents had a unique opportunity to take me on “fish trips” so that I could see new areas other than my own Small Town, USA. I am so fortunate that my parents occasionally let them take me out of school to go on these trips, even if it wasn’t the “right” thing to do.
I made so many irreplaceable memories that I will never forget. Were they silly at the time? Probably. Little things are what I remember most, like driving around pond levees, learning about the crops that grow all over the state of Illinois, and shopping for new school clothes with my grandma. The thing is, if I had stayed in class, I wouldn’t remember any of that. It’s not like I got to do this often, but those moments that I spent out of classroom mean so much more than any of the moments I spent inside it.
I hope to do that for my son. I hope to be able to decipher between the decisions that I’m supposed to make and the ones that he deserves for me to make. I want him to experience as many things as possible in life rather than idly watch it go by. The only way I can ensure that is to teach him from an early age how to live life to the fullest and the best way I can think to do that is to experience it with him!
A Friend Kind of Parent
In a world where so many people think that being a friend to their child is a bad thing, that is exactly what I want to strive to be. Of course, I’m his mom first and foremost and always will be, but I think being a friend to him can only enhance that! Let me explain.
My mom has always been my friend. Always. Sure, I would get told no and disciplined and even spanked occasionally, but she was my friend. Her rule was 90% friend, 10% mom. How does that play out? I always got to express my opinion. I could, and did, tell her anything and everything. I seriously shared things with my mom that no other kid my age would probably share with their parents. Sex stuff, check. Drinking stuff, check. Breaking rules stuff, check. What did that mean? I didn’t hide things. I didn’t lie. I knew if I had a drunk friend afraid to go home for the night, they could come to my house. I knew that we could have all kinds of fun at my house and my mom would join in and it wouldn’t be weird.
In turn, I was a good kid. I didn’t do crazy stuff because I didn’t need to. My mom let me have fun and do what I wanted – within reason – so I didn’t have to get a reaction any other way. We set limits for my behavior together, so I didn’t feel like I had to rebel. I never did many wrong things, but if I did, I generally told on myself. Why? Because my mom was my friend and I felt bad and I couldn’t keep a secret from my friend.
Does this kind of parenting work for every parent and every kid? NO. But do I think being friendly with your child and working with your kid instead of against them is generally a pretty great policy? Absolutely. You don’t have to be a dictator in your own home to raise a polite, functional, well-mannered person. Just be human, be transparent, and be a friend.
What’s the Take Away?
Ultimately, you have to choose what kind of parent you want to be, and what kind of parent you need to be for yourself and your child. Just know that whatever you decide, there is no wrong answer. Be there for your kiddo, show them love, and help them grow. That’s our job as mamas. How we make that happen is up to us.