I know a lot of people who are trying to do things differently from how their parents did it. They don’t agree with how they were raised (they were hit, shouted at, ate anything they wanted… whatever it is they want to change). I however am one of the lucky ones. My parents approach is a real inspiration to me. Now that I am a mom, I look back and realise what a great start I had and that I don’t need to rebel and trailblaze now, to find my own style of parenting, ‘cos I already had such great role models to show me the way. How I was raised is pretty much the ideal model I aspire to emulating.
There are the practical things: My mom breastfed me for over two years* (which was pioneering at the time, really, and knowing what I know now I think she should get a medal). My dad carried me in a sling. I co-slept with my parents, on an adjacent futon for 5 years. I was fed a whole foods diet rich in grains and fresh veg, legumes, nuts, seeds and an occasional bit of fish. That is all the stuff the alternative and attachment parenting modern myths are made of… and I lived it. It seemed pretty ‘normal’ at the time, of course, until I went to school, at least, and then I learned to, let’s say, ‘adapt to expectations’ (read ‘try and act normal’ so I don’t stand out like a sore thumb), too.
Then the important stuff: We weren’t rich in ‘things’ but I was always surrounded by love. And yes, I did have plenty of toys, enough… just not silly amounts. The emphasis was never on material goods. Money as I notice, looking back on my childhood, was spent not on ‘things’ but on experiences: eating out in nice restaurants, going for holidays in beautiful retreats and spending time in nature. Just the same values and priorities I’d love to instill in my children.
Thank you, parents, for making my childhood such a fantastical treasure chest of beautiful memories. Thank you for being exactly the kind of parent I want to be now (with my own twist, no doubt): patient, loving, fun and with an eye on the important stuff.
Edit (Jan 2011): I found out recently from my mom that she breastfed me for three years, actually. I never knew that until now that I have my own kid and am considering how long I should/will breastfeed till (assuming Anya doesn’t wean herself before then, of course).