Most of us are winging it! Parenting doesn’t come with that much-coveted manual, but rather a hell of a lot of loose sheets of crumpled paper with random scribblings and coffee ring stains. And that’s okay. What good would a manual be when every kid is incredibly different to the next?
So, we take our notes and see if anything we’ve jotted down over the years would fit into the current situation. But as we’re winging it, are we also changing, evolving, and growing in our parenting? It's true - as our children grow, our parenting changes also.
As our kids get older their needs change, their demands fluctuate, and how we parent them most certainly needs to be reworked. We can’t baby our kids forever - no matter how much we’d like to!
They take their independence and they run with it. And despite them hitting the pre-teen years, and becoming teenagers, we’re still their mum and dad. How can we recognise when we need to change our parenting? It’s pretty straightforward really. We take the lead from our kids as they battle against our routines and shift the conversations.
Babies love routine. Toddlers thrive on knowing what’s coming next. And most of us parents quite like the comfort of schedules and agendas in those first years as we get to grips with being parents for the first or second time. Routines are great when we’re exhausted and take the guessing out of a demanding day. But as our kids get older they fight against routine. Or rather, they enjoy the spontaneity of life.
Their independence is growing so those habits of laying their clothes out for them, tying their shoelaces, or even making their lunches for them, can swing and change. Roll with the difference in patterns and see where you can relinquish some parenting habits. After all, these old routines have acted as encouragement to bring our kids into being responsible for themselves.
When our kids are younger there are certain conversations that don’t happen because of a lack of interest or being outside the realms of their understanding. Our curious kids ask questions, but do we answer them and talk about their curiosity, or do we say, "we’ll talk about that when you’re older"?
Brushing off the conversations our children have piqued an interest in as they grow older may continue until they are walking out the door and moving for college! In the end, did those important discussions ever happen? Changing our parenting means listening and understanding the big feelings our kids have, talking through their questions, and absorbing conversations.
Growing in our parenting as our kids grow will continue to help us to cement a strong relationship with our kids. As they learn and take on more responsibilities, we are also learning and loosening the reigns.