This week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt made me reflect on how I want to parent and act as a mentor for my young daughter.
The featured image is taken from Flickr, courtesy of Leanne.
As a parent, I am my daughter’s mentor. I am aiming to provide her with as many life skills as I possibly can, so she will enter adulthood without the trepidation and risk-averse mentality I had. I don’t necessarily want her to put herself at risk; whether it be physically, financially, spiritually or mentally. I feel I have been much too cautious during my adult life. Conversely, in the past couple of years, I have thrown caution to the wind in a few aspects of my life. Particularly in a financial sense. I am not the ‘independent woman’ I aspired to be when I listened to Destiny’s Child as a teenager.
This in part stems from my traditional upbringing, where my own mother stayed home to raise myself and my brother. I’ve followed suit in this regard, despite having gone to university and gaining undergraduate and post-graduate degrees. I will say in retrospect I made the wrong decision to ‘give up’ my career to raise my daughter. Don’t get me wrong; there have been other factors going on such as issues with depression and anxiety. These have not helped me stay focused on a career path.
In some ways, I became jaded in my early career when I faced redundancy in two consecutive jobs. On both occasions, I was not singled out. They were full-site closures. That did not make it any easier to deal with, however. It seemed like my working life had gotten off to a shaky start, making me wonder if the field I had chosen to work within would be stable in the mid-to-long term.
I’m digressing from the point quite a lot here, I realise. Suffice to say, I’d like to guide my daughter in her decisions as she matures, so that she does not limit herself the way I have. Yes, I still have a good 25 years or so working life in me. I ought not to be too despondent. I do feel though, that women who have had children are still looked on less favourably as potential hiring candidates. Currently, I work in retail, but only at weekends so I don’t have to pay childcare fees. That was my main reason for staying at home to raise my daughter. Sending her to nursery would have negated any salary I’d earnt in retail.
Again, I am deviating. Essentially, I feel like our UK school curricula do not really prepare one for life in the ‘big wide world.’ Particularly in the sense of education about managing finances, obtaining a mortgage, making investments, and / or saving into a pension fund. Then there is the minefield that is insurance of all forms. Raising a family is something that is often loosely discussed with family members, including our own parents. They are the ones who raised us to become the adults we are. Their experience is our guide, in that respect.
We can reflect on our relationship with them and see how in our formative years they were principally parents, or the ‘fun police.’ As we became adults, they started to evolve into our friends too. We realised they had done the best that they could with limited information and experience themselves. No one is handed a guide book when they become a parent. Some of the books that are available are not necessarily helpful. They may make us feel like we’ve failed if we are not able to keep up with their regimented routines. I find the best way to parent is to teach our children acceptance and be prepared to accept that our children will not always be perfect little people. They are human, after all!
My daughter is quite impatient. When she makes demands, like “I want such-and-such NOW!” I try to remind her that waiting is not a bad thing, as it makes us look forward to the thing we want more. And we will be grateful when we do obtain it. Instant gratification is shallow, and short-lived. It is better to strive for something we are extremely eager for. That will make our ‘just desserts’ even sweeter!
I want to teach my daughter to be kind and respectful of other people and beings. Manners are essential. I insist on her saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ I am also teaching her to pay compliments to people (genuine ones, of course). And in return, she is learning to accept compliments from others in a gracious way. As I can be self-deprecating at times, I want her to be proud, and affirmative in her abilities.
This has to be done with a delicate balance. Praise is fantastic as a motivator. But I don’t want her to become ‘needy’ for it. I want her to know the strength of her own convictions and not be swayed by others who may be louder or more ostentatious than her. At her young age, she is already starting to voice her thoughts on things. As she grows up, it’s imperative that I listen to her as well as give guidance. I need to show empathy and put myself in her shoes or remember what it felt like to be facing the aspects of life she will come up against.
As my daughter’s parent and mentor, I have a privileged responsibility to do the best that I can. In some ways, parenting is my ‘career’ now. Motherhood will give me much more reward than chasing after bank notes.
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Please read my other Wicked Wednesday posts here. I promise mostly they are indeed wicked!