Monday, 25 March 2013

Regrets? Too Few to Mention

I’m a bit of a sucker for ‘top fives/tens’, particularly when they apply to the way we go about our daily lives. So I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to scan through the top five parenting regrets, according to psychologist, Dr Angharad Rudkin.

1.    Spending too little time with your children.
2.    Not prioritising their needs
3.    Sweating the small stuff
4.    Taking short cuts
5.    Feeling guilt

Although it’s a while since our daughter was a child, I thought I’d run the risk of a bit of hand-wringing and see how I fared in the regret stakes.

1.    Well, in the early years, I was unemployed for a considerable spell and, working on the double-edged sword principle, times were tough but our little girl had my undivided attention for a longer period than most. Having said that, it was our belief from the start, that our child would always have a legitimate claim on our time, no matter how busy our lives might be. – No regrets.

2.    As far as was practically possible our daughter was, first of all, included and later consulted, during most decision-making processes. Despite financial constraints, we let her explore any number of different interests, and when she settled on playing in the village and school silver bands, much of our recreational time was spent ferrying her to and from gigs. – No regrets.

3.    Good manners and consideration for others was a ‘must’, as was the cleaning of teeth, honesty and taking responsibility. Arguments over the wearing of coats, wellies, etc, never happened on my watch. My attitude was, look, it’s freezing out there, if you don’t put your coat on you’ll be cold. If you complain about being cold, don’t be surprised to hear me say, “I told you so.” – No regrets.

4.    In a rush of blood to my young and inexperienced head, and under exceptionally difficult circumstances, I once tapped the back of our daughter’s legs. The shame of that incident affected me deeply. Even 30 years on, it makes me want to weep when I see parents screaming in the faces of their kids, let alone raising a hand. Throughout her growing up, there hasn’t been a single area we’ve regarded as taboo. We’ve encouraged openness and honesty in all things, even though that isn’t always the most comfortable route. – Regrets? I still wish that tap on the legs hadn’t happened, but parenting isn’t a one-way street, and there are lessons to be learnt by the adults, too.

5.    The guilt trip is so often unjustified, in my experience. Usually it’s parents being unreasonably hard on themselves, and these days guilt is probably more prevalent than ever, as parents find themselves increasingly in the grip of the ‘fear of failure' culture. I think, as parents and as individuals, we’ve been fortunate in that neither of us have ever set our sights unrealistically high. – Regrets? None that would keep me awake at night.

In all of this, there is one important thing that doesn’t get mentioned explicitly, and that is unconditional love. It’s among the greatest gifts we can offer our children. To hold them in our hearts in the hope that they will do the same for us, but not thinking any less of them if they come up short.
Enhanced by Zemanta

13 comments:

  1. I'm still in the thick of parenting, with a 12-year-old, but I considered these in relation to my daughter's early years. I think the only regret i have is my guilt: frequent, intense, and in hindsight largely both useless and irrelevant.

    Such an interesting post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leah, I think most parents are susceptible to feelings of guilt now and then, for all the reasons mentioned and more. But I'm with you. With hindsight these feelings often prove to be quite pointless, not to mention counter-productive.

      Delete
  2. I wish I could say the same as you. Remarkably, my daughter seems to have turned out fine despite everything!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Parenting can be a bit of a lottery, can't it? No handbook for new Mums and Dads, just instinct and tradition to fall back on. Nobody gets everything right, although some would have you believe differently.

      Delete
  3. Your daughter was blessed with amazing parents!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Helen, I tend to reserve the word, 'amazing', to describe the moment when our daughter was born. Whatever we are as people, we owe much to her.

      Delete
  4. I suspect if you asked The Lad for his take on my score on those five he would say I did OK except for the "no short cuts". He lives in fear when I am driving and I head off on one of my "short cuts", which tend to take twice as long. On a more serious note I suspect that good people tend to make good parents - I am sure you did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When your kids say you did OK, it's a moment to savour. I'm sure The Lad secretly looks forward to those 'short cuts'.

      Delete
  5. No regrets is the best way to live, Frances. I slapped my son once for attempting to put his fingers in an electric socket. I think it was more fear on my part and he certainly never tried again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I once heard a doctor on BBC Breakfast Time say that a slap was acceptable if a child is doing something that's potentially life-threatening. If that's true, your instinctive reaction may well have saved your son's life.

      By the way, Lynne, who is Frances?

      Delete
  6. I think you're beating yourself up over that 'tap on the legs'. Nowadays, I see behaviour from children that deserves a good hard smack on the legs, but their dozy parents seem to let them do what they want.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not beating myself up Kid, just recognising that smacking is the most negative option a parent can choose.

      Delete
  7. Personally, I think that smacking can be the most fitting option a parent can choose. Discipline sometimes needs to be enforced until such time as children can appreciate just why some things are wrong or not acceptable.

    If a kid wilfully hurts another kid, physical chastisement is a necessary option.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.