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Parents of older kids- looking back what was important and what wasn't?

(310 Posts)
deliverdaniel Fri 07-Nov-14 04:33:18

I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old and right in the thick of it. I worry about everything (I know I'm ridiculous...)I wonder if I'm getting things right or wrong when it comes to parenting choices, I get paranoid about whether the various ways in which they behave/ phases they go through/ traits they have are signs of terrible problems or things to come. I never know if I should be stricter or less strict etc etc.

So, if you are 'out the other side' a little bit, with older kids, what do you feel you did right in your parenting? Is there anything you would change looking back? What were the things you worried about that turned out to be nothing, and which things turned out to be important? I would love to hear some words of wisdom! Thank you in advance!

CheerfulYank Fri 07-Nov-14 04:42:33

Well, my boy is seven now and one of those annoying boys that bothered me when he was a sweet little toddler grin

You know the type...too loud, too rough, burping constantly, etc. I used to look at those boys when DS was a little three year old cherub and think "ugh, their parents let them behave like that?!" But I think they're all like that; at least nothing I say or do seems to help!

So probably not exactly what you were asking, but it's something that struck me today! smile

Also not to sweat it as much with sleeping and potty training. I have a six year gap between DS and his little sister and I've realized I'm much more relaxed about those things because he eventually got there and I know she will too.

LuckyLopez Fri 07-Nov-14 04:45:18

Important - starting chores early, encouraging varied diet, always having a zero tolerance physical fighting rule.

Not- fussy eating (seems to contradict above but can do both), getting dirty/ hurt, tantrums (I just don't get embarrassed in public anymore- they do grow out of it), bathing/hair wash if they hate it, sharing (it's overrated).

MexicanSpringtime Fri 07-Nov-14 04:49:06

Well first of all, OP, don't stress. You will never be the perfect parent as they don't exist, you can only do your best.

I think what I did best with my dd was talking. We always used to have long talks and she has developed very good critical faculties.

I taught her to see other people's points of view and to be inclusive, I'm proud to say and this has even stood her in good stead in her work where she tends to be a peace-maker.

On the down side, I let her make too many decisions from too early an age, which has made her tremendously bossy to this day. I'm a bit wishy-washy and indecisive, now I have to put up with being told what to do sad

I never did get the knack of getting her to help around the house either. I wish I had known how to, but nothing I ever said worked so I ended up giving up as I got fed up with the rows.

Chottie Fri 07-Nov-14 04:54:40

I would say don't sweat the small stuff, take that extra moment to enjoy a cobweb strung with dewdrops, splashing through a puddle, feeding the ducks, snuggling up an reading stories together. Those are the golden moments your DCs will remember.

I think just ensure that your DCs know they are truly loved and are secure.

My DCs are adults now and hand on heart, I really think bringing up children is harder nowadays.

deliverdaniel Fri 07-Nov-14 04:55:52

thanks everyone- really lovely advice.

Chottle so interesting- why do you think so?

MexicanSpringtime Fri 07-Nov-14 04:57:44

That is beautiful Chottie and so true.

velocity1 Fri 07-Nov-14 05:00:29

I worried about ds1, he never seemed to sleep, he could escape from his cot before he was a year old, and took forever to get back to sleep. Now, you need dynamite to get him out of bed, and he can sleep for 12 hours. no problem.

Food, too..I was determined not to have fussy eaters, gave them lots of variety, made them eat at the table, try everything at least once. I have fussy eaters now though, and the youngest is 20.

skolastica Fri 07-Nov-14 05:59:21

Mine are grown up, so I'm a long way past this - but I think that a perspective that would have really helped me when they were small, is that childhood is where you learn how to be a responsible and independent adult - and I, as the parent, am the guide and mentor. That means that mistakes, yours and theirs, are just another learning opportunity.

I also didn't 'sweat the small stuff'. Picking your battles is a clever strategy. Also, being able to admit when I had been wrong and also my own willingness to apologise.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Fri 07-Nov-14 08:03:26

Consistency and chores. Also encourage a sense of the ridiculous.

Chottie Fri 07-Nov-14 08:06:26

Deliver the reasons I think bringing up children is harder nowadays are (in no particular order)

My DCs are now in their 30s <<outs self smile >> These are just my personal comments/views and are obviously just based on my experience of parenting in the 70/80s compared with nowadays.

*Parenting seems much more competitive now and children's lives seem to be more regulated (endless clubs, groups, after school stuff)
*It's just impossible for most families to manage on one salary economically (this is a general comment, and not about individual's life choices)
*Schools seems to expect much more participation from parents
*Everyone seems to have much less time, despite all the labour saving devices available

hesterton Fri 07-Nov-14 08:11:22

I am so grateful there were less screens when I brought mine up. Bikes, tennis and a kickaround at the park, lots of walks, gardening, board games and word games like I spy, twenty questions etc. Dens, water and sand play. They won't remember dusted skirting boards. Absolute adherance to manners, please and thank you has stood them in good stead.

Listen to them. Really lsiten and encourage them to form opinions of their own on wider issues. Make sure they know conceding is not always a weak thing by modelling it. Model everything you want them to be as much as you can.

Apologise if you geet it wrong. Give them their dignity. Hand them their problems back on a plate for them to deal with as they get older. Tell them you trust them to deal with it because they are smart and wonderful. Well, sometimes!

desertmum Fri 07-Nov-14 09:21:50

yy to starting chores early - so it is the norm in their life. Talk to them a lot and listen to what they have to say, eat together at the table as a family at least once a day, manners are sooo imporant - saying please and thank you, giving up their seat on a bus or train to someone older than them, holding doors open, being kind and understanding people are not all the same and that it's OK to be different and those people who are different are often interesting people to talk to. Having an understanding of other people's culture.
tell them you love them every single day of their lives.

foslady Fri 07-Nov-14 09:24:39

That when they are upset, there's not a lot that can't be fixed one way or another, everything is a learning curve be it good or bad, tomorrow is another day, and sometimes adults do say 'yes'

goldenlilliesdaffodillies Fri 07-Nov-14 09:27:11

Definately picking your battles wisely. Also teaching good manners and how to be kind and caring.Teach them that most things are never as bad as it seemed.
Lots of cuddles, kisses, wellie walks, splashing in puddles, laughing together. Children just need to know they are loved and cared for. Mostly talking- always talk and don't be glued to mobile phone and computer screens. Those early days will be gone in a flash.

TheWordFactory Fri 07-Nov-14 09:30:42

I have two teens! I also work at two universities so meet a hell of a lot of young people!

What I can hand on heart say about the vast majority is that the different ways they were parented all worked out well grin.

The idea that there is an optimum way, is simply not true. Which is very freeing grin.

Ilovefluffysheep Fri 07-Nov-14 09:33:18

Lots of people say routine isn't important, but I stuck to a routine, and looking back, I'm glad I did.

I was very lucky in that both my kids slept really well from about 9 weeks old. A lot (think 14 hours at night plus 2 hour naps twice a day up to about 2, then one 2 hour nap a day right up to school age). I made sure that I kept to that routine, as they were horrible if they didn't get their sleep. Yes, it made life difficult at the time, yes I was quite limited in what we did and where we went, but for me, it was worth it.

they have remained good sleepers all their life, and are lazy teenagers now who as much time in bed as possible! I've never co-slept (wouldn't work for me, I'm too much of a light sleeper) and never had issues with them going to bed.

Doesn't work for everyone, and I understand lots of people wouldn't want to do that, but I don't regret it for a second and would do it again in a flash.

Thecroissantthief Fri 07-Nov-14 09:35:47

I taught my children from a young age that all advertising was lies made to make people buy crap and spend money they didn't have. Taught them to see the tricks used to persuade them to part with their money - they have both grown up very unmaterialistic and hardly ever pester me for things.

Also agree with "encourage a sense of the ridiculous" from disgrace and we've always chatted a lot about everything.

desertmum Fri 07-Nov-14 10:01:43

and the most important thing you can teach anyone - is the ability to laugh at themselves - and to find fun in life. If you can't laugh at yourself life is very tough. Laughter is so important in life - my two are late teens/twenties but we still laugh together at the ridiculous stuff in life - it has got us through many heart aches.

JockTamsonsBairns Fri 07-Nov-14 10:01:55

What a lovely post from hesterton - thank you smile

For me, it was breastfeeding. I cried for weeks about my inability to bfeed my dd, I felt so guilty and such a failure about what I'd expected to come so naturally. She's now all grown up, and I wish I hadn't wasted so much of her newborn time in a state of guilty remorse. She's happy, healthy, and doing well in life - and all those bottles made not a jot of difference to her as an individual. I might get flamed for this, I hope not, as I am well aware that bfing is better for the nation's health as a whole - I just wish I'd made peace with myself about it at the time.

checkeredpresent Fri 07-Nov-14 10:05:55

Hmm, interesting question! I have 3 between 9 and 13 so to be honest when they were little (all born within 4 years) I hardly had time to stop and think what I was actually doing. I would say go with your instincts and things will turn out fine. The fact that you're thinking about what you're doing means you're probably doing great.

Sleeping and toilet training....feels like it goes on forever but becomes a distant memory before too long. It was important to me that my dcs went to bed when told and slept in their own beds, but to others it's not.

Don't give up on serving healthy, varied meals when they go through the fussy stage. Mine all came out of it and eat most foods now. Try to keep things relaxed at the table.

One thing which didn't come naturally to me, probably due to my own upbringing, was letting them experience negative emotions and not necessarily fixing every problem. Sometimes they just want to vent a bit.

Things I wouldn't stress about if I had another (which I won't!) - not sharing as toddlers, tantrums, early/late reading/writing, being clingy, getting dirty, not wearing a coat.

Things I would still consider important if I did it all again - knowing the parents are in charge and have authority but that the dcs can come to you for anything without being judged, good manners from an early age so it becomes a habit, helping around the house, giving responsibility and letting them do things for themselves as appropriate for age, learning how to behave in different settings (restaurants vs. park for example), being consistent and following through with consequences.

Hakluyt Fri 07-Nov-14 10:12:15

The single most important thing (in my not very humble opinion!) is to work on their relationship with each other. Help them be friends as well as siblings. It was advice my mil gave me and it was so important.

And good manners. Inside the family and out. Nice manners will get you practically anywhere- and makes life so much nicer and smoother. And that means grown ups having nice manners towards children as well as the other way round.

Practically everything else doesn't matter. I can't actually remember most of it!

SonorousBip Fri 07-Nov-14 10:26:09

I often think that parent's put too much focus on getting their children to read - and looking back on it, for me the key to them being good and interested readers has always been us reading to them not them reading to us.

At the end of a day, requiring my dc when they were small to do something that was a new skill for them and involved quite a lot of concentration always had mixed results. Both of mine however would always snuggle up with DH or I and be read to for 15 minutes and it meant they were exposed to more advanced stories and much richer vocabulary than they would be able to read themselves. Whenever I see on here people sweating about book bands I always think "Nooooooo, you've got it the wrong way round". FWIW, mine are both fabbo readers at 11 and 13, in that they read for pleasure and read a wide variety of ooks: also one of them was much quicker than the other in YR/Y1 but it really matters not a jot now.

My 13 year old DS would murder me if he thought I was publicising this because of course he is now v cool and wears Lynx and everything hmm, but he still sometimes asks DH to read to him and they both love it. smile

Marylou62 Fri 07-Nov-14 10:51:28

Mine are 24, 21 and 17...Well done Mexican..your 1st paragraph put into words almost exactly what I would have said. In fact all of you together have given OP a perfect answer...but as Mexican said, there is no perfect parent..

.Talk,talk and then talk some more...never stop listening...my DD used to come into the bathroom...into the bath when she could...even tho I just wanted a minute to myself...I realize now that they were precious moments..we had such wonderful chats..

.DSs and me used to chat...they told me things I didn't want to hear sometimes...when we were cooking...(Now both chefs in the Navy!)...

But compassion, understanding of others and knowing that there is nothing that they could do that would stop me loving them...I wrote them each a note when they left home saying just that, just like my DM did for me...
.OH...and finally...just stop every now and then to do 'nothing' with your kids...just be...duvet day, long beach/woods/park walk....You do not have to plan activities with them...

deliverdaniel Fri 07-Nov-14 14:57:28

Oh thanks so much everyone. What incredibly lovely advice. I actually had tears in my eyes reading it. So nice to know that these day to day dilemmas fizzle away and the important stuff is what you think it is when you have some time to think!

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