Parenting 101? Not in this house.

There are a number of blog posts this week about the lies that parents tell to other parents to portray themselves as the perfect parent:
Of course I cook a home made meal from scratch every night.
Or there are the lies that parents tell their children just for a quiet life:
Yes, your picture is beautiful. The glitter looks brilliant on those pasta shells.

A lot of these blog posts have stemmed from the results of a survey compiled by NetMums that suggested around two-thirds of parents admitted that they told a few white lies whilst many more admitted to covering up financial struggles.

Seriously, why bother?  Why should you be embarrassed about the way in which you choose to bring up your child(ren)?  I get a bit pissed off with all the "Yummy Mummy" types who profess to fill up their child's life with activities and fun.  When does the child get any time to be themselves?

Just a normal evening
in the O'Hara household
I am strict - I don't mind admitting that.  I can also shout - very loud.  I used to be able to silence my children with a one word holler and The Look.  That doesn't happen quite so much now as my parenting technique has changed developed with each child.  I have ranged from overly protective, to slightly relaxed through to so laid back I could be almost horizontal.  It could never be a "one size fits all" method in our house because I've raised three individuals, and encouraged them to be so.  No matter what guidelines I set out, each child seems to have had their own inner programme.

At the time of writing:
  • My 19 year old daughter is in her own house a few streets away with her two daughters, making her own rules and constructing her own family life.  She is probably determined to do the exact opposite of what I did. After all, she lived in such a terrible household that she had to run away at age 16 to try independent living and getting pregnant.  She succeeded on all accounts.
  • My 17 year old son is sat in his bedroom playing 18-rated games on his X-Box, talking to god-only-know's-who on the live-linked headset.  He also has his own computer in there, hooked up to the internet.  We don't check the internet history.
  • My 11 year old son has been to a friends house and came home at 8.30pm.  He is now on the family computer upstairs, on his Facebook account and YouTube, unsupervised.  He also occasionally plays 18-rated X-Box games on any of the three X-Boxes in the house and sometimes has his own X-Box Live account activated.
Michael & friends
go WILD!
We swear in front of our children, we let them watch programmes and films that possibly aren't appropriate for their age (well, what is these days?  That is a whole other rant!),  In fact, if there is someone in the house there is probably a television on, churning out all sorts of crap until late at night.  We answer all questions honestly and we give them as much freedom as the subconscious apron strings will allow.  Times were frugal from the beginning.  There were never any expensive dance lessons, swim classes or karate.  I hated baking with them and preferred the bundle-them-up-in-old-clothes-and-chuck-them-in-the-garden-for-some-fresh-air method.  I didn't have the resources for one-upmanship so people had to take me as they found me and tough tits if they didn't like it!  As life has gone on, our personal family battles have moulded us and we attack life head-on.  A lot of this stems from the communities that we have lived in too.

My beautiful daughter
ready for her prom.
Don't it make ya proud?
Rachel makes me catch my breath sometimes with the way she chooses to lead her life and her methods of parenting but it's not my place to jump in with a 'How To...' manual.  There isn't one to start off with and I know how I felt when my own mum tried to advise me.  Michael (the 17 year old) is the most trustworthy young man you could meet.  He rarely goes out, we've never had to sit up with him after a voda-soaked evening on the local bowling green and he is generally very placid.  He chooses to be a bit of an X-Box/YouTube geek and holes himself up for hours on end in his bedroom with no ambition and no drive - but I know where he is... not out causing trouble!  And Jake is Jake - enthusiastic about life in general, dealing with his personal battle with ADHD in his own way and enjoying the new freedom and responsibilities that are allowed when you start high school.

Why am so blasé about it all?  Simply because we have built up trust between parent and child in our own way and we have learnt by our mistakes.  Parenting isn't a competition.

Source: BBC News