Before we have children,
Yep...I can identify with a lot of this. I came from a strict, sheltered, thrifty environment: we had lots of books, activities that didn't cost much and didn't require much chauffeuring (Girl Scouts, swimming lessons, music lessons with college students), we traveled a lot (3 month car trips to Mexico in the winters)...our family was its own self contained world and despite its restrictions, I felt intellectually unfettered.My beliefs changed, and my practices too.
I also have been at this parenting thing for over 20 years.
Isn't that the truth?
From the perspective of 34 years of parenting and after 4 children, I don't think that they have.
The truth may be out there but lies are in your head. Terry Pratchett
In some ways, my beliefs about parenting have changed.
For me, I used to lean far more on the "nurture" over "nature" side. Now I give more credit to the "nature" side than "nurture." I freaked out when my 15-month-old built his first gun but reality is, he's the last kid on the planet who would actually shoot something for real. I took pride in my DD playing with boy toys but reality was, she was still playing with those items as a girl would. I learned to accept that there are some real differences between boys and girls. To give them real freedom to develop, I had to stop demonizing traditional interests for each sex. In hindsight, it was wrong of me to avoid dolls with my daughter and pretty much force her into turning trucks into dolls because in my head, she'd be stronger that way. I do feel I learned that early enough but still, it was an initial belief than changed.
I honestly don't think I've changed much. Some of my parenting practices have changed a bit, but I don't think my basic beliefs have altered much. There are probably three reasons for that.
First, I think that I basically had good parenting modelled for me when I was growing up. If felt my parents didn't trust me with enough autonomy and freedom, and I've set out to be different in that respect, but in general I think they were good parents. That gave me eighteen years of experience with respectful, flexible parenting by the time I became an adult. I didn't have to create a whole new approach from scratch when I became a parent.
Second, I was older when I started having kids, and that probably gave me a bit more maturity, humility and experience. I had my first at 30 and my fourth child at almost-40. We have been financially secure throughout our parenting years, and that helped minimize stress as well. Not sure I'd describe the accumulated experience as engendering wisdom or anything as worthy as that, but I am certainly a lot less capricious and reactionary at 40-something than I was at 20-something.
Finally, my parenting beliefs are based on trusting my children to show me or tell me what they need, which has made the whole system adaptational and self-correcting. Rather than setting out to raise our kids a particular way, we've really just tried to see what kind of people we were given as children, so that they could show us how to be good parents to them. Doing different things at different times with different children is part of what defines our parenting approach.
I've kept a blog for many years. When I read back on the old posts from a decade ago I'm a little embarrassed by the earnestness of my writing, but I think that I would respond now in basically the same way to the issues I wrote about then. Not that I got it all right, by any means! I keep reminding my kids that it's my job to make mistakes and thus to give them stuff they have to get over as adults. My legacy to them!
Miranda in rural BC, Canadamom to three great kids and one great grown-upunschooler, violist, runner, doc