Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Teach Your Children Well

Powerful words. Words that I have been thinking a lot about these past few weeks.

My friends have told me that I am being to hard on myself. That I should just accept myself as I am. That no, I am not that low maintenance personality - calm, patient, maternal.

I would like to take their advice but I can't. I don't think it's fair to my children. I already see the same traits in my daughter as I had when I was her age. I swore to myself that when I had children they would not inherit the same legacy as I did from my mother and her mother and her grandmother. All strong, opinionated women with high expectations, a need to always be in control, and full of insecurities. I lack patience and I am quick with the temper with those I love the most. I never moved passed the id stage in life. No, that's not completely true. I am an affectionate and compassionate person. I am always drawn to the underdog, the sufferer of injustice. I was once asked why that is so. What did I hope to accomplish or was I even aware of it? It really caught me off guard but it was also very thought provoking.

I swore to myself that my children would not be like me, my sister, my nieces, my aunts. I come from a family who yells too much. A friend of mine told me that is a prerequisite of being a Jewish mother, that and the guilt. I do feel guilty, because despite my attempts to prevent this from being passed down to the next generation, I have failed. I love my children, but many times, I don't like being a mother. A favorite aunt would be better. I could spoil them, give them lots of attention with plenty of patience, coddle and dote on them and always have nice things to say to them. That would be ideal. But that's a rescue fantasy.

My daughter is a mini-me. Truth be known, it's rather scary how much we have in common. Yes, much of it is environmental (my taste in music, for instance), but a lot of it is just innate. I don't want her going doing down the same path as I did. At times it was very painful and lonely. Times have changed. Catch phrases have changed too. When I was young, noone knew about ADHD or Sensory Integration disabilities. My husband swears that I have ADD. I don't see it, but I do believe I probably had the later... Sensory Integration.

At 35, my husband realized he had ADD. He would sit in meetings at his school, with parents, educators, counselors and discuss a particular child's behavior. Whenever it was brought up that the child most likely had ADHD because of a list of symptoms and behavioral patterns, something always clicked with him. The way the child was described...lazy, very smart but not focused, can't sit still, starts a project but never finishes and so on. That was him to the T.

And that's our daughter too, but she is an experimental learner and that scares the hell out of us. She too, is smart, strong willed , impulsive, and bossy. Despite the consequences, she would rather get her way than relinquish any control. She loves the dance, the drama. She's my drama queen. But she is also very affectionate, compassionate, a nurturer when it really counts, and a seeker of justice.

Just like me.


PsychoToddler said...

The Joy and the Fear of parenthood. I look at my kids and I can also see who takes after me and who takes after my wife. Sometimes I see a positive character trait being reflected back at me and I take pride. And other times I see the negative and I get scared.

Don't project your mistakes or flaws on your kids. If you see them going down a path that you had previously taken, try to guide them with your hindsight. But don't blame them for it.

I am also going through this with my dad. I'm seeing in myself tendencies that he has, but he is 43 years further along, and I worry that that will be me down the road. I get mad at myself, but I find myself getting madder at him.

Sweettooth120 said...

PT: Thank you for your comment. I am not projecting my flaws on to them out of mean thoughts or words, but what I honestly see shaping. Yes it could be that they just happen to have the same personality traits, but I don't believe that is the case. I am reminded of a For Better or For Worse comic that truly touches a raw nerve. The little girl is playing with her dolls - a mommy and daughter. The little girl is using her imagination in which the two dolls are having a conversation. The mommy doll is very bossy and demanding..."EAT YOUR DINNER, DON'T PLAY WITH IT!, PICK UP YOUR DISHES! DON'T EXPECT ME TO CLEAN UP AFTER YOU! I SAID NOW, NOT LATER! DON'T ARGUE WITH ME, YOU DO HAVE TO TAKE A BATH! DON'T USE SO MUCH SHAMPOO! etc. The little girl's mother is watching her play, when the little girl looks up and says to her mom.."Were you listening to me Mom?" The mom hugs her daughter and says..."No April, I was listening to myself."