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Generation next: Are you a better parent than your own parents?

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#1 diary~dad

Posted 14 September 2010 - 12:59 PM

Generation next: Are you a better parent than your parents?
By Joseph Kelly

When you become a parent you have no previous work experience in the field of child raising to reflect upon in working out whether you’re doing a good job or not.  So it is only natural that you will judge yourself by comparison to the people whose parenting you had the most contact with: your own mum and dad.  While it might sound like sacrilege to some, it is probably a healthy exercise to stop every now and then and ask yourself “Am I a better parent than my own parents?”

My own parents were a cartoonish mix of the saint and the sinner.  Dad worked all day and drank all night while mum’s entire life was about attending to the wants and needs of her eight children.  Whatever it is about the way they parented they must have done a good job because we all turned out happy and healthy.  Conversely, Mr Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes did everything by the book but, by all accounts, the kids never quite lived up to the expectations.  But even though my parent’s unorthodox methods produced good results, I’m not so sure I would want to repeat them.  

For my part, I don’t think I parent like either my mum or my dad but I'm not always sure the way I do things is always better.  I know that actually coming home in the evenings is a good thing to do, so I beat my dad there.  But, unlike him, I’m not the sole bread winner and have the luxury of working part-time, so I don’t have a fraction of the stresses he had.  Dad could also quote Shakespeare liberally and no doubt contributed to our dramatic bent.  I can quote liberally from This Is Spinal Tap and have probably contributed to my daughters’ love of trash TV.  One point to dad.

My mum was, and still is, the best cook I’ve ever met and her school lunches were incredible.  She also made time to make each one of us feel special and loved, which is no mean feat when you are one of eight children.   Mum also didn’t believe in seat belts, saw squeezing eight kids into a hatchback as a fun challenge and was a renowned lead-foot.  She also sent me to school once wearing my sister’s shoes and told me no-one would notice.  They did.

While I don’t spend eight hours a day baking like my mum did, I do make the girl’s their lunches every morning and take the time to chat to each of them about the things they would like.  They both like my chocolate brownies so I make those as often as I can, while Frances asks every day (without fail) if I’ll make her a cheesecake.  I also sneak in an unhealthy amount of processed cheese-flavoured snacks which would horrify my mum but seems to make the kids very, very happy.  I’d say mum’s ahead on points.

While I try not to obsess about whether I am a “good parent” or not, I do take the time every now and then to try and work out whether I am doing things the right way and if I can do them better.  My quick rule of thumb is if mum did it then it’s probably OK (provided I add an element of 21st century OH&S safety standards), while if it something my dad would have done then I could probably lift my game.  But ultimately the greatest test of how well I am parenting comes from the girls themselves, and no doubt they’ll tell me exactly what they think of my parenting when they hit their teens!

Do you compare yourself to your parents?  How do you think you fare?

#2 missgeorgina

Posted 14 September 2010 - 04:21 PM

I don't think I could compare myself with my parents.  The environment they brought my brother and myself up in were very different, the struggles and hardship they endured while we were kids also would have shaped how they brought us up too.  

I suppose the values and principles I was brought up with have certainly continued on with my daughter and soon to be next baby.  My parents made mistakes, as do we all, but both myself and my brother grew up to be reasonably well adjusted individuals....respectful, caring, close knit etc.

I'm hoping the same will happen with my daughters and that as they grow older, as a family, we will work it out some way or another.

#3 GoBack2Bed

Posted 14 September 2010 - 04:50 PM

I think that I am a better parent then both my parents and my DH's parents. And I hope that my DS will grow up to be a better parent then we are!

I believe that everyone should learn from other's mistakes and lets face it most of us grew up in homes where plenty of mistakes were made.

#4 kpingitquiet

Posted 15 September 2010 - 06:55 AM

My parents did pretty well, I think. I had enough of them, that's for sure! Out of four total parents, only one (ex step mother) was a complete dud and she was out of the picture before I hit my teens. Mom probably could've been a bit more free-range and a lot less critical, dad probably could've been a bit more stable and could've divorced the bad parent a LOT sooner. Stepdad was pretty much flawless but more of a confidant than a parent. So instead of wondering how I'll be different, here's how I hope to be the same:

Mom: Strong, a good example of work and family balance (she worked fulltime my whole life), making holidays amazingly special, cooking nearly every night, allowing and supporting exploration of varied faiths/cultures and interests, being a good friend to an adult child.

Dad: Mellow and cheerful as much as possible, encouraging of adventures and travel, teaching love and knowledge of nature, being able to cook anything anywhere and anytime and have it taste great, being an amazing storyteller.

Stepdad: Being a good listener, keeping confidences without question, being supportive of plans and ideas, being a peacemaker in tense situations, knowing when to step back and watch insead of act.

#5 kp0507

Posted 15 September 2010 - 12:15 PM

Better than my Dad? Sure, but that's not saying much!
Better than my Mum? Nah, just different. A different set of challenges. I've got it easier than her by far in some ways, and as a result I yell a little less, but I don't love my kids any more than she loves hers.
Still, gone are the days when you could send the kids out to play on Saturady morning and tell them to just make sure they were home before dark. That must have made for easier parenting!

#6 Petal73

Posted 17 September 2010 - 09:14 AM

Yes definately. Unfortunately my parents were neglectful and abusive, I just do the opposite of what they did.

Edited by Petal73, 17 September 2010 - 09:15 AM.

#7 sam_gamgee

Posted 28 October 2010 - 07:06 PM

I'll let you know my answer in about 20 years or so.   tongue.gif

(Mum and Dad were and are fantastic parents so my answer will probably be "no".  And even if I do everything "right", there are so many unknowns and nuances to parenting that you need to react to.)

#8 musiclover7

Posted 15 November 2010 - 04:28 PM

I believe that I am a better parent than my own parents as I have studied many books and magazines on this subject. When my first son was about 4, things didn't feel right. He was stubborn and uncooperative. Being very interested in behaviour and parenting, I read a lot and changed my parenting style radically. My own parents were very strict. From then on, parenting was much easier and more enjoyable. My children are now grown and they are wonderful!

#9 Guest_starbellied_*

Posted 09 February 2011 - 06:08 AM

I don't think I am as good as my parents, I had great parents that I can't fault.  My mum was an amazingly strong, working mother who tried to teach her 8 children common sense, a work ethic and respect, my dad is this hilariously, brilliant, working father who taught us how to think and be compassionate.

They were the perfect balance as parents and I still think they are amazing.

So I aim to be as good, but I am not as strong or as brilliant, but I try everyday.

#10 JupitersMoon

Posted 09 February 2011 - 06:23 AM

Hmm well for both DP and myself, in our case that wouldn't be hard. My mum was an alcoholic and she often tells me it's a wonder that I survived at all huh.gif My dad died when I was 2. DP's parents and stepdad were/are drug addicts and criminals.

We learnt from their mistakes and are none of those things, so yes, we are better parents.

#11 Azadel

Posted 09 February 2011 - 06:30 AM

Of course I can't say yet but I hope I will be.

Maybe this should go I'm venting, but the use of the word parent as a verb makes me alternately want to cry and throw things.

#12 Guest_starbellied_*

Posted 09 February 2011 - 06:32 AM

QUOTE (Azadel @ 09/02/2011, 06:30 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Of course I can't say yet but I hope I will be.

Maybe this should go I'm venting, but the use of the word parent as a verb makes me alternately want to cry and throw things.

I was taught that parent was both a noun and a verb (obviously depending on how it is used).

#13 kemisz

Posted 09 February 2011 - 06:37 AM

I figure I damn well BETTER be an improvement on my parents considering the wealth of research, parenting education and supportive services I have to fall back on.

#14 Chchgirl

Posted 09 February 2011 - 06:38 AM

I'm not a better parent, I'll judge that when I've brought my kids up into adulthood successfully first.

I have learned a lot from my parents though, they are awesome!

#15 . . .

Posted 09 February 2011 - 06:47 AM

My parents were great.  I am not better, but I am different in some ways. But the world is very different to the one I was raised in.

However circumstances are different too - I worked once my kids started primary school, mum didn't until we were in high school. We are financially better off than my parents were (thanks largely to my parents making sure I was fully educated and had good financial skills). I have my parents' support -they didn't. My husband died leaving me with a couple of teens - my parents are still together after 46 years. And so on...

If I end up exactly the same as my parents, I wouldn't be disappointed. They were great role models and are still a great support to their children and grandchildren.

#16 MichaelTJones

Posted 03 August 2011 - 06:27 AM

Yes I am.
I learned a lot from things my parents did and din't work or what they did totally wrong, but also from what they did right or what worked.

For years I always had this custom of taking a mental note whenever I notice something of use or something to avoid.

I put all these mental notes in the same place in my mind and always draw from them when needed. And that includes a LOT of things my parents did wrong.

I also think having better parents than before is a really great part of human evolution!

#17 Sweet like a lemon

Posted 03 August 2011 - 06:57 AM

No. I can give DD more materialistically than what my parents could give my siblings and I at the same age but no way am I a better parent.

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