From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Making decisions during the child raising years

Who would have thought that having a baby was so complicated? Who would have thought that the decisions we make on a daily basis would have such lifelong implications for our children? Who knew that each bump in the road and each turn could have a lifelong impact? On behalf of my cohort, I believe that most baby-boomers have tried to make good decisions on behalf of their children. We tried to right the wrongs which were done to us as children, and make our children strong where we were weak. We responded and reacted in the ways we thought best. Whether your children are young or fully grown, here are a few thoughts on raising children. 

·        Everything changes when they go to school. For a very short period of their lives, we are privileged to connect with our children in the privacy of our own homes, with time to establish our parent-child bond. This is crucial time in our lives and in the lives of our children. Based on the quality of our parent-child bond during the first two years, our children will learn whether they should trust or distrust the rest of the world. For a very brief time, we are in control; we are the people in charge.  Shortly thereafter, school begins either with daycare or pre-K and we are no longer the only folks in charge of our children. As we become partners with individuals or institutions -- no longer are we completely in control.  While we remain the major decision-makers on behalf of our children, many of our decisions are now made in reaction to what others tell us about our children.

·        There is every reason for parents to make decisions together. Children need a balanced perspective in life. They need input from their father and from their mother. From their parents, children need to learn both the masculine and a feminine perspectives on life. Ideally, these perspectives are different but not contradictory. Because children trust their parents, it is important not to confuse them, but to present a somewhat united image of reality, against which children can compare their own experiences day-to-day. Together, parents can make wiser, more balanced decisions. Then if things don’t go as planned, we can jointly share the blame, and jointly begin to pick up the pieces.

·        We are biased by our own experiences and birth order. Our children are influenced by so many factors. Among others, they are influenced by their own genetic make-up and they are affected by their birth order in the family. They are also influenced by their parents’ genetic make-up and birth order. The experience of an “only child” is very different from that of a “middle child”. The experience of being an “oldest child” is different from being the “youngest child” in the family.  Based upon our childhood experiences, we may find ourselves trying to over-correct certain problems or under-correct other problems in the families we raise.

·        Be sure to admire your children’s strengths out loud. Whether or not, we identify with our children, and whether or not, our children identify with us, they will continue to look to us for feedback. Children develop their unique personalities based upon; (1) how they are, (2) how we are, (3) how they react to us, (4) their genetic predispositions, and (5) the environment in which they live. Our kids learn some of life’s lessons from us, and they learn some of life’s lessons on their own. But when it comes to self-concept, much of what our children learn is what they see reflected back to them in our eyes, our facial expressions, and the tone of our voice. This is our greatest power! The power to provide children with an image of themselves that is filled with confidence or contempt. To use this power wisely, parents must recognize that; you don’t have to like everything about your child, just be sure to let them know what you do like about them.   

For years, on a daily basis, parents are faced with non-stop decisions to make for their children. Then, at some point, it becomes time to let go. We have to let go of that remote control we think we have over them, and let them make their own decisions. Ironically, just when we’ve gotten used to responding alongside of them to all the pushes and pulls of life, we have to learn to let go and learn to let them make their own decisions… a task easier said than done. But the time will come when they will stand on our shoulders and look for ways to improve the planet in their own way.  It will be their turn to be the generation in control and their turn to be the generation in charge.

©Copyright, 2008, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.            

Return to Family Relationships

Return to Table of Contents