Mix or Match?
When we envisioned having children, most of us had some sort of image of what that would be like. I remember telling my friends that my first born was going to adapt to our schedule. The joke was on me and lasted about 10 minutes.
Some parents picture their children as excellent athletes, and their kids are more interested in literature or the arts. Some parents imagine their children as extraordinary students and their kids may not be enamored with academia at all. Some parents have children who were born with special needs which may or may not have been obvious at the time of birth.
It was natural to imagine our children as little versions of ourselves. In reality, they are themselves and it is important to find ways to unconditionally love and accept them regardless of how much alike or how different they are from what we expected, or how different they are from us.
Some children are born with easy going temperaments. Even as infants you can tell ~ they are happy and calm. Some children come into the world cranky or high strung. Some kids are as cautious or fearful observers who hang back until they feel comfortable. Most kids have some attributes of all of the above, but there is typically one predominant style. Temperaments tend to stay the same so recognizing the sameness and differences is important for understanding yourself and your children.
There are three basic parenting styles: "Authoritarian" parents are often strict, inflexible and expect immediate obedience from their children. "Permissive" parents place few demands on their kids, and the children tend to be impulsive and may have a harder time accepting responsibility for their own behavior. "Authoritative" parents have age appropriate expectations of their children and strive to make sure their kids feel heard and understood. Their children feel respected, are respectful, and have an internal locus of control.
It is often the match or mismatch between a parent and child that determines the dynamic within the parent-child relationships, and within families.
There is no right or wrong temperament. The trick is to figure out how to best accommodate your sameness or your differences.
It is a fundamental human need to be loved and accepted. It is a gift that cannot be bought, only given. The following excerpt from The Prophet describes it well.
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,Â for they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might
that his arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies,
so he loves also the bow that is stable.
~ Kahlil Gibran