So, would I parent in the same way if I was given the chance to do it all over again? Hmmm .. now let me think. This follows on from yesterday’s post below, if anyone’s wondering.
Musical instrument classes? Yes I’d pay for those again. Why? Because the sense of achievement and pride the girls gained from mastering an instrument was huge. It also enabled them to play in church festivals at primary school and in the orchestra at senior school, all of which they enjoyed. Do either of them play an instrument now? No, they do not. So what was the long term point of learning I hear you ask. They understand the effort involved, and know that they applied themselves and achieved. They can take that experience and belief in themselves and apply it to other areas of their lives as adults.
Dance classes? Yes I’d pay for those again. Why? Again for their sense of joy and pleasure in taking part in dance festivals and displays. Do either of them dance now? Socially – all the time like most young people. In classes? Our younger daughter danced until she was 16, and then did tap dancing classes whilst at university recently but the cost prevented her from continuing. Now that she’s graduated she says that she will probably take up dancing again. Elder daughter enjoyed the gymnastics classes the most – suited her athletic approach to life, and she gave up dance at 12 to pursue sport.
Drama classes? Yes, I’d pay for those again. Younger daughter did these for a number of years. She thoroughly enjoyed them. I’d say that these classes provided an outlet for her creativity on stage, and taught her to channel her enthusiastic energy for life. She still is a drama queen to be honest.
Badminton classes? Yes I’d pay for those again. Elder daughter benefited hugely from taking part in sporting activities both in school and outside of school. She gained in confidence, and played badminton at county level for two years. She still plays the game now.
Swimming lessons? Yes I’d pay for those again. Both girls are very good swimmers. We took them both swimming weekly from being babies, feeling that they should be able to swim for their own safety. They learned quickly, loved it, and joined a local swimming club.
Rainbows and Brownies? Yes I’d do that again. They gained so much from the weekly meetings about teamwork, friendship, group activities, creative activities and much more. I learned a lot too as I used to help out at the weekly meetings.
We used to take the occasional horse-riding lesson or two; both girls played golf with their father, and as a family we used to do many other fun activities, mostly outdoor things like cycling and walking. None of these would I change or have my family miss out on.
So it looks as if I’d still run myself ragged to meet a hectic weekly schedule if I had my time over again. There are other things, however, that this midlife mother would change, and this is where the hindsight comes in.
I remember being quite ambitious for my children; I can recall encouraging them in all things. I wanted them to be good at stuff so that they would feel great about themselves. And they were good at almost everything they did. But being good at something does not guarantee that they will continue with it or develop it further. Our elder daughter did very well at school and could have been anything she wanted to be. She chose to be a horticulturist. She’s an exceptionally good horticulturist too, loving what she does. And now, with hindsight, I can see that it wouldn’t matter what she had chosen to do, so long as it was something she really wanted to do she would be good at it.
Our younger daughter has just graduated from university and is now undertaking a Masters course. She’s hoping to lecture at university in the future. To be absolutely honest I could never have seen that one coming.
In conclusion then maybe I’d tone down my ambition for them if I had my time again. I’d ease up on myself too and take a much more relaxed approach, because ultimately all a parent can do is give kids the best opportunities available, a range of interests, sports and hobbies to participate in and grow their confidence, and then sit back and watch this space really. Things never turn out quite how you expect them to, do they?
I think all the things that you did right were great but I would really like to hear about some of the things you think you did wrong. What would you have not done if you had the chance to do it over? Were you ever too harsh about something? Did you ever say no when you should have said yes?
Crikey Bryan, how long have you got? Seriously I frequently got it wrong and still do. I was too harsh, too soft, too obsessive, too ridiculous and a whole load of other “too’s” besides. If you follow this blog you’ll soon get the idea.
I think, if I had to do it again (kids are 21 and 17) I would be much, much gentler with myself and demand less of myself. We are part of the generation that felt we had to do it all: career, children, marriage, house, extended family and community, all at once. And we are supposed to remain sexy and not grow eye brows in weird places…
We may have won expressing our “father’s voice” in the workplace, but also felt obligated to continue our “mother’s voice” in the home and community. It has been too much.
So if I had to do it again, I would realize that one can have it all, but not all at once. And that would have made me more easy going in general, and given me the energy to do the hard stuff of parenting without losing my mind.