Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ideal Parenting?

We took a trip to Boise over the weekend for a wedding and to see some college friends. The question invariably comes up each time we are there, could we actually move here someday? We love the summer heat and sun in Boise, but are a bit shy about the winter wind and snow. Yet, we have so many friends there it is still creates a temptation to move. After all, couldn't the warmth of friendship keep us warm?

Wow, wasn't that a load of cheezy/hallmarkesque/crap? I'm sure if we moved we would end up the couch every Friday and Saturday night, just like we do now, so I'm not about to trade the beautiful Emerald city for Boise. Come on, we've got lakes, trees, ocean's, mountains, forest, orcas, dolphins, octopuses, shopping, great bars (okay, Boise has a few good bars too), better looking co-eds, professional sports team, opera/symphony/theater, traffic, and democrats. Frasier, Gray Anatomy – all hit shows were based in Seattle and not Boise, wonder why? Because nobody would watch a show about Boise!

Regardless, and back to the point of this post, down there I was able to observe the parenting skills of a friend of mine. I must confess that I have sort of a man jealousy thing with this guy. He kind-of looks like me, only more handsome, he's an engineer, has a beautiful-sweet wife, a great home, he’s eloquent, and has a beautiful daughter (approx 2-3 yrs old, I can’t remember). The two of them have they type of parenting skills that I hope to emulate someday (here is where I'm tying back to the title of the post, if you have gotten this far and been thinking, great insight about Boise but W.T.F. does this have to do with parenting, here you go…). I have witnessed a lot of parenting styles, some of which are: Type A: adore your children to no end and give them anything they ask for., Type B: Overreact to everything your child does as if every mistake they make is ruining themselves and/or the world, Type C: Ignore your children because your attention is focused on booze, pot, sex, shopping, soccer, or anything other thing besides your children, and so forth. I'm even seen parents who are mixed, for example, I have a friend whose best friend is a type A: ie adores his children without end and is at their beck and call. They demand he fetches. His wife is a type B who overreacts to everything. They spill milk she starts praying to Jesus while berating their cup holding skills. The trouble is, these kids don't know which way is up. Mom yells, dad cajoles, and the results are meretricious kids who I can't stand to be around (whiner who start to cry if you look at them and make direct eye contact, see unconfident losers in the future anyone?).

Anyway, back to my friend’s approach. It's called balance. He and his wife have made a conscious effort to maintain their personal identify and people, a couple, and then as parents; as they say, "We are more than our children". Too often I think people with kids loose their identity and can only think of themselves as parents. Everything become invested in how the children turn out, they never achieved anything significant so they put all their hopes/dream into their children. They give up friends, vacations, anything as an excuse to be with their children. My friends are more than happy to drop the kid off with its grandparent and take of for the weekend or get a babysitter for a night at the bar. Second, they do love their child and show affection, but they also make a concentrated effort to not try to make her happy all the time. They have a, god forbid, a parent-child relationship rather than a servant-master relationship that I often see (often evidenced by these parental questions to children: “Is there anything I can get you baby?”, “Can I get you that?”, “How much blood does mommy have to bleed before you stop crying?” Etc...)

In summary: love your children, tell them you love them, show them you love them, but don't: coddle, placate, berate

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