Parenting: As Kids Get Older, the Job Gets Tougherby Andrea Benton
Last week was a big one for my family. My oldest started kindergarten (woo hoo!).
With my boys being 19 months apart, I don’t get much time to reflect on their childhood (since I’m usually trying to stop World War III), but starting school really emphasized the importance of parenting and understanding that - once your kids get older - it becomes less about needs and more about choices.
When my son was little, he needed a clean bum, food and hugs. Looking back, it didn’t matter what diapers he was in or whether I fed him formula. It was about survival and ensuring his physical needs were taken care of while making him feel loved and secure.
Even after one week of school, his needs are different. They are less physical and more psychological. It’s about peer pressure, self-confidence and teaching him lessons such as “It doesn’t matter if your friend punched someone. You don’t do it.”
Somehow through the peer pressure or the “group think” mentality, as I like to call it, we have to continue to instill our values everyday about right and wrong.
Being a parent means making choices on a daily basis - from the food we put on the table to the bedtime routine. What I found surprising was that my husband and I decided to make two unexpected choices.
1. We enrolled our son in a school that is not in our area.
The school we chose is a highly regarded public school with a digital inquiry based focus. Yes, he’ll get to go to school with his cousins but honestly, I did it to give him an advantage. Having technology in the classroom is a unique opportunity and hopefully, it will open more doors for him.
2. I pick him up from school everyday. No more daycare, before-school, or after-school care.
The other day I had to explain to him where his new friends were going and why their mom was not taking them home. It broke my heart. I’m thankful that I can work from home part-time, pick up my son, and take him to activities such as soccer and swimming, but it’s a sad reality that many families can’t.
When did this happen and what changed? Somehow being a stay-at-home mom has become a privilege. Parker’s friends should have the same opportunities as my son, and they won’t. Does it make a difference? Many people would argue that it doesn’t, but I suspect it does. The best before-school or after-school program in the world isn’t a replacement for a parent.
So, last week was an eye opener. It made me appreciate the choices/decisions I have made and need to make sure that when my youngest enters school, he has the same opportunities, too.
What choices have you made for your kids? Now email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your thoughts.