My buddy, Suz, of Buzy Bee Suz, has tagged me with a question. Someone tagged her with the same question about being a modern mom. Her answers were solid and well thought-out. Check them out--I admire her stance toward parenting.
This topic brings to mind my new favorite sit-com, Modern Family. If you haven't watched it yet, you really should. Sometimes my family reminds me of this family in the sense that we're unconventional, quirky, and always trouble-shooting!
Back to the question: What makes you a true/authentic modern dad?
What is a modern parent? One who is living in modern times? That would make all living parents modern parents. So for the purposes of this post, let's assume that a modern dad is one who is raising a family that might be less-conventional, in a manner that would not be considered old fashioned.
My family is definitely less conventional. My husband and I are raising a daughter (17), and a son (5), along with another daughter who lives nearby (20), along with two dogs and two in-laws who live with us part time. Our co-parent is Claire, my ex-wife, and her husband, who live four hours away with our niecester (12) and nephson (1) and their two dogs. Or, as my pal Buzy Bee Suz puts it:
"...he and his man-cake husband are raising a great modern family. Mix in an ex wife, miscellaneous kids, in laws and living on Wisteria lane…he always has something going on!"
At first blush I would describe my parenting as highly instinctive, rather than prescribed. I have never sat down and said to myself, "These are my parenting norms. This is what I do." However, contemplating the issue, I realize that my parenting is much like my teaching. I have high expectations of behavior and performance, and I do my best to enforce those with calm, non-emotional consequences on a consistent basis. With an emphasis on the I do my best part, and a footnote that teaching is easier than parenting.
Each of my children is very different from the other. In parenting there is certainly cannot be a one-size fits all attitude. Each child needs to be treated according to his/her personality and conduct. That being said, I carry the same expectations for all of my children, as well as my students:
1. Make good decisions. My children know that I expect them to do just that. When they do make good decisions, the rewards for it are natural, i.e., I trust them more and I am more likely to allow them privileges that they wouldn't otherwise be given. When they don't make good decisions, I ask them to make a better one. When they still don't make a better decision, that it when I intervene and help them to make a better decision or dole out some sort of natural and fair consequence.
2. Solve problems. I emphasize independent problem solving, and when I see it happening I try to reinforce that behavior. When my kids have a problem, I strive to turn it back to them and allow them to solve it for themselves while I stand by. Obviously, when the problem is of a larger proportion I get involved, but most of them time I don't need to. Having a classroom full or a house full of problem solvers makes management so much easier.
3. Show respect. Through it all, respect is paramount. I show my children respect, I expect them to show the same to me and to others. When this happens, they reap the rewards of being respected themselves. When it doesn't, I firmly remind them to show respect. If disrespect continues, natural consequences follow, but they are immediately expected to be respectful afterward.
These are my expectations. Nevertheless, sometimes, no matter what you do, children will choose to do what they want. No matter what you do. Having parented a teen who went through some very, very difficult times, I felt helpless and questioned my own parenting skills at every turn. There was a time that nothing worked, no matter what we did. There was a period when we just reacted, reacted, and reacted. None of the proactive strategies worked. But the reacting was just as ineffective, and counterproductive. That was when we had to learn to not react. And not blame ourselves for our teen's poor choices. But that's a whole 'nother tag question, parenting the troubled/rebellious teen.
Make good decisions, solve problems, and show respect. They're guidelines for discipline in the classroom, in the home, and for life!
This post is dedicated to my mentor, Marcia.