I love pavlova. I rarely make it due to the phenomenally high sugar content (and subsequent energy slump that follows). But when I want to whip up that perfect blend of marshmallow and crunch, I reach for four ingredients: egg white, sugar, lemon juice and cornflour. Then I follow the recipe with precision.
Cheesecake on the other hand simply doesn’t do it for me. Not one bit. The taste and texture is different from pavlova, so to are the ingredients and the method by which to make it.
You may be a pav lover like me, or perhaps a cheesecake fanatic. It doesn’t matter either way. Unless that is, you’re force-fed what you don’t like.
The same sentiment applies to parenthood. You may be a fan of co-sleeping, or of having each child in their own bed. You may be in the no homework camp, or perhaps the pro homework one. You may be fostering a love of sports, or of art and history. It doesn’t matter either way. Unless that is, you’re following someone else’s recipe.
So what values are important to you? What qualities do you want to foster in your children to take them into adulthood?
Without a clear image of the journey ahead or at least a vague map, it’s easy to get lost. Before you know it, you’re saying or doing things you never thought you would, simply because you’re mirroring the parents around you. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with their approach. It may feel right for them. It may work perfectly for their children. But it’s not a match for you.
Raising children needs to be done on your terms. It doesn’t matter what the school mums are doing, what your best friend is doing, or what the parenting magazines seem to think you should be doing. Make choices that feel right for you and you can’t go wrong.
When you’ve drifted too far…
Not sure what your parenting values are? Take a moment to consider the qualities you appreciate most in adults. What would you be most proud of in your grown children? Not their achievements, rather the essence of what makes them capable human beings.
If you value resilience, notice when you ask your child to stop climbing the tree. If you value independence, cease packing your child’s school bag. If you value kindness, bite your tongue instead of talking negatively about another.
Our children don’t become adults overnight, it’s a gradual process. And each step of the way, we have an opportunity to nurture the qualities we treasure most. But that won’t happen if we drift off path and go along with someone else’s plan.
Care deeply about how you’re raising your own children.
Care less about how others are raising theirs.
Connect your day to day choices with your end goal. For me, that’s having loved and fulfilled children who still want to come over and share a pavlova for dessert. But who knows, maybe ice cream will be more their thing?