An open letter to Kelsey

Dear Kelsey,

I glanced through your list of goals for your children and read your later post bowing out of the parenting advice arena. There’s no need to do that if you don’t want to!  Everyone’s experience is different and what works for you may not work for others … but then again it might!

I see since then you have rethought quitting parenting advice.  Good for you!

Since you got some discouraging comments on what was overall a good list,  I thought I would throw you some support.  In particular, the  I think it’s obvious you don’t have older kids. Do you really think you’re qualified to be handing out parenting advice?” comment REALLY irked me.  So, as a mom of older kids, I thought I would chime in.

Anyway, my kids are 10 (almost 11), 8, and 11 months. I like how aggressive your plan is regarding teaching them chores and other skills.  After all, the goal of parenting is to prepare kids to be functional adults, so the sooner they learn these skills, the better. My older two have been expected to sweep, take out garbage, do their own laundry, clean their own bathroom, load the dishwasher, hand-wash dishes, babysit their baby brother when needed (including diaper changes, feeding and bottle cleaning and prep), AND do their homework for at least a year now (in the case of the older one, a few years now).

We talk about money openly and honestly with both the older ones, including how much I make (wow, that’s a lot!), how much we pay every month for the house and other bills (wow, that’s a lot!), and how much we pay in taxes. We showed them the tax refund check last year (wow, that’s a lot! can we go shopping?) and explained to them that we needed the money for me to take time off work for when their baby brother is born (oh, that makes sense).

We had a puberty / sex talk with my older one less than a year ago, so she had some exposure to these topics at home before they started talking about puberty in school (definitely wise, in my book – take control of that narrative as early as possible and share YOUR values. Don’t do the “sex is bad, mmmkay?” that my parents did and then wonder why your kids don’t take you seriously).

Both the older ones can make sandwiches themselves and pour their own milk / juice beginning at around 7 or 8 (although cleaning up after themselves is still a bit spotty), and the older one helps chop vegetables with a large knife (while supervised of course) and is basically my husband’s little sous chef in the kitchen. She can make her own eggs in the morning (but she doesn’t usually because she tends to leave a mess).

And that’s just off the top of my head.  I look at my kids and I am so proud of who they are today and who they will grow up to be.  I’m sure you will be the same when your kids are 10 and 8.

I like your set of goals for the teen years especially.  My kids aren’t there yet, but I remember being a teen not so long ago.  I wish my parents had been more like the parent you want to be.  Again, the primary goal of parenthood is PREPARING kids to be adults instead of PROTECTING them until their 18th birthday, and I think that you really understand this.  It shows in your list.

So to sum up, your goals for your kids are absolutely doable.  Screw the haters.  You’re doing a great job.

Love,

Athena

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4 comments

  1. I didn’t read through Kelsey’s whole list, but I do agree with everything you say here, especially the sex is bad thing. I think there’s a way to communicate that sex is a natural part of human existence but that it’s an experience that might be better put off until certain life milestones. From my own experience growing up with the ‘sex is bad’ mentality, that can do more harm than good.

    I’m not even thinking about kids yet, but I do think it is wise to set goals for them. I think there should be a balance, though. If a kid doesn’t achieve a goal by a certain age, they shouldn’t be made to feel like they are a failure.

    1. “I think there’s a way to communicate that sex is a natural part of human existence but that it’s an experience that might be better put off until certain life milestones. From my own experience growing up with the ‘sex is bad’ mentality, that can do more harm than good.”

      Thanks – I completely agree. The “Sex is bad” broken record doesn’t set you up at ALL to make any sort of good decisions about sex as you get older.

      We haven’t quite gotten to the “might be better put off until certain life milestones” part of the discussion. So far it’s been mainly basic biology. Am hoping to revisit that some time in the next year or so. I am hoping that overall these ideas sink in, especially considering:

      1) she recently got to watch her mom go through pregnancy and has been able to help with caring for her baby brother
      2) my husband and I are affectionate with each other and with all the children
      3) she has a loving, affectionate relationship with my husband (I heard the term “psychological father” a few years back and I think it applies very well)

      From #1 I am hoping she learns about the awesome responsibility of creating new life, and form #2 and #3 I am hoping she begins to learn about what good relationships look like and not to settle for anything less.

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