I give up. Honestly. I’ve decided that my parenting hasn’t made much of a difference at all to the way my children have turned out and despite the nature vs nurture debate, I suspect they have been more influenced by their DNA and their individual personality types. Does parenting matter? Having offered all three of my children the same parenting style, which has been very much influenced by the fact I’ve been a single mother for the last ten years and lived with them on my own in our family home each one has turned out entirely differently. I have attempted to be loving, kind and supportive towards all three of my children and whilst my parenting approach has had to be incredibly flexible, depending on the needs of each individual child, especially for my youngest child they are all very much their own people. Luckily for us, we all have a good relationship, but I’m beginning to wonder whether anything I did or indeed didn’t do, has had any significant effect on the kind of people they have turned out to be. Anyway, the hurts they will feel because of something they perceived as wrong will be different from the ones we as parents remember ourselves so it’s very difficult to get it right.
You would think, given that each of them have had the same life experiences in general that they would each be similar in outlook. But no and this last week has made me feel that whatever I have offered them in life is way less important than their innate characteristics to step out into the world. This conclusion has come about specifically because of the example of results day earlier this week. My first two children were insistent that we were at home on results day and my daughter even came back from her holiday early to ensure that she could be at school at 8am with all the other students to pick up their results. My third child? Not so much. He didn’t even seem to know which day the results were coming out and wasn’t remotely bothered about picking them up early. I had to go to work, so left instructions for him to call me as soon as he’d got his results, but instead a text came through at 11am – “mum, do you know my UCAS login details?”
Talk about a laid back attitude to his future plans. He’s decided to leave his college choices for now, do his gap year and maybe apply next year once he’s got more of an idea what he’s going to do. I suspect he might decide that university isn’t for him, which of course won’t be the end of the world and might be the right decision for him, we will see. But I’ve learnt to stop pulling my hair out over the fact that he simply doesn’t have the same approach to life as his older two siblings and am going to have to let him lead the way (for the moment) because it appears to make no difference. I keep suggesting things to him, but until he decides for himself, it is literally impossible to get him to do something and he’s going to have to be motivated himself to do it. Anything else with him has only led to clashes and I’m sure a lot of white noise as I’ve tried to get through to him. At the moment he’s happy and looking forward to finding some work to support his travels which I guess is ultimately all we can hope for with our children.
So maybe we need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves, because in the end, they are going to do exactly what they want to do, their own way. Some can be moulded a little more easily than others, but often if they are pushed by us into the wrong direction, they won’t be happy. My parents didn’t get very involved in my life – they made sure I was fed and watered occasionally, but forgot to apply suncream and once I’d left home at 17, apart from a long distance phone call (from London to Hong Kong) once a week that was pretty much it, I was on my own. I’ve been far more full on as a parent, but in the end, will it make any difference?
So I’m off to the pub to think about it. Children – the food is in the supermarket. Soz.