Designing Girls…and Boys

I am not tall. My Husband is probably considered average height for a man. When you put these things together you are probably aiming for a shortish child.

Mission accomplished. My daughter is short.

I used to joke that I wanted to marry a tall guy specifically because I wanted a kid that didn’t need to spend their life climbing on things in order to reach other things. Wouldn’t it be great if you could pick out the traits that you want your child to have?

Wouldn’t it?

Or would that be the worst thing ever done in the name of science and advancement?

We are entering a world where parents may be able to choose the characteristics of their children.

Yay science.

About 30 years ago a trend started- leaving your kids back in school, from the onset of their school years, so that the child would be the oldest in the grade. The reasoning was that the child would be bigger physically (sports) and have a more mature mind (intellectually). This would give a kid an “edge” over their peers…

So now, my daughter who just went along with the grade she was supposed to be in, has some classmates that are two years older than her, and incoming Freshman who are older than her. She is routinely asked if she skipped grades…

If we’d held her back, would she have graduated number one in her class instead of eighth? Would she have played first singles instead of first doubles? Would she have missed 0 questions on the math SAT instead of two?

Was I a bad parent because I let her go with her grade? Was I a bad parent because I didn’t give her an edge?

Did the trend of having children start kindergarten at six help them out? I have no idea. But for a little bit I did think we would have kindergarten classes where the average age was ten…

You know parents…

Anything to give their offspring an advantage.

But let’s get back to science…

If parents were willing to hold their kids back from formal schooling, what other lengths will they go to?

Many parents have expectations of their children- this happens before they are even born. Maybe they want them to be a beauty queen. Quarterback. Doctor. President. And many parents are saddened when their children fail to reach the expectations set for them…

If you have the money, would you try to engineer your child?

Would you write down a list of all the qualities that you want your child to have?

Are we about to see a world of tall, blonde, athletic children?

Does this remind you are any point in history?

(you get it all with my blog- sociology, science and history)

Genetically engineered children…

How far do we go to make the perfect person?

Who determines what perfect is?

What happens if every child has the exact same attributes? Will there still be kids who don’t make the team or finish first in their class?

I mean really- there are still only nine on the baseball field, five on the basketball court, six on the rink- I don’t know anything about football so you have to tell me how many are actually on the field…

Is the entire grade going to tie for valedictorian?

What do you think about designer children?

I Don’t Want Kids

Scenario One:

Two people meet. They fall in love. They decide that they both really want to have kids. They may or may not live happily after.

Scenario Two:

Two people meet. They fall in love. They decide that they both DON’T want children. They may or may not live happily after.

Scenario Three:

Two people meet. They fall in love. One wants children. The other doesn’t. Then what happens?

Let’s play with scenario three for a second.

You and your significant other get along great except for this one nagging little detail. You don’t agree on children.

  1. Do you break up with the person?
  2. Do you go along with the wishes of the other because your love is too pure and you’re not leaving your soulmate over this?
  3. Do you spend your life convincing the other person of your side and coerce them into doing what you want?

Scenario Four:

Two people meet. They fall in love. They both decide they don’t want children. After being together for X years, one of them changes their mind and decides they want children.

What happens next?

Everyone is entitled to change their mind. We all grow and change and whatever. But what if you change your mind about a big thing? Whether or not you have a child is a big thing.

  1. Do you split with the person because you really want a child and they don’t?
  2. Do you coerce your partner into doing something that they don’t want?
  3. Do you trick your partner into having a child?

Should anyone be forced to have a child if they don’t want one?

Raising a child is a lot of work. Having children is a certain lifestyle. I completely understand why someone wouldn’t want to have a child.

Having a child is a wonderful experience. It’s a different path, but worth the time and effort and money. I completely understand why someone would want a child.

I get both sides.

But what do you do if you and your partner aren’t on the same page?

Put the Fun is Dysfunction

My sister and niece were in from Seattle last week. They stayed with my parents. Apparently our parents were, let’s just say obsessing about something, so my sister sent me a text:

Was our family always this dysfunctional?

Of course the answer is yes and no. My parents have gotten more set in their ways as time has gone on. But, there was always lots of crazy going on in the house.

Whenever I’ve written about my family I get a variety of responses from readers.

  1. I shouldn’t talk badly about my parents
  2. I should get over my past
  3. I shouldn’t expect my parents to apologize
  4. What would I say if my daughter said things like that about me

Which leads me to my conclusions:

  1. those who have had a relatively functional childhood can’t understand those who didn’t
  2. just because someone turned out relatively OK doesn’t mean they don’t have demons
  3. Sometimes the person who never speaks ill of their childhood is far worse off than those who complain because they are pushing their feelings aside
  4. if your child tells you how your actions affected them, you should listen with an open mind

I think that people should learn to move on from the mistakes of their parents. I firmly believe at some point you have to stop blaming your parents for your failures.

However

It doesn’t mean that parents are blameless.

The actions of parents do affect the person you were, the person you are, and the person you will become. Your background matters.

I know that I have made some mistakes with my life because I was trying to get my parents approval. I tried to do the things they wanted me to do instead of what I wanted to do. Bottom line: This made me a very unhappy person.

In order to become a more content, more stable person, I needed to admit to myself that my parents were wrong about a lot of things. They made mistakes.

This does not mean I love them less. I just accepted that they are human and flawed. They thought life should be lived a certain way- they weren’t trying to hurt me. They were doing the best that they could.

But this doesn’t mean I won’t talk about what they did, especially to them. I don’t need an apology when I talk to them. I would like them to listen with an open mind. Listen to my point of view. I don’t expect them to like the criticism. I do expect them to love me enough to hear my out. I hope that they love me enough to listen.

Is there anything worse than someone you love not listening to you?

Lack of communication is one of the largest problems we face as humans.

If your kids are talking to you, you need to listen.

Which leads me to the next point:

What if my daughter said the same things to me.

First off: I know I have made parenting mistakes. I’ve probably made more mistakes than done things right. My daughter will tell me if I’m doing something that hurts her. I admit, it hurts to have your child be truthful with you about your parenting.

It really hurts.

Sometimes I want to cover my ears and not listen.

But I realize that if I am to have an adult child/parent relationship with her, I need to listen. I need to hear her out. I need to acknowledge that I have, at times, been a lousy parent. I need her to get things out so that we can move on to a better relationship. I want to have a good relationship with my daughter as time goes on. We can only have that relationship if we communicate.

We do need to accept our pasts and move on. But we also need to acknowledge the feelings that come along with it.

Advice: Should You?

This week I spoke of opinion/criticism and I spoke about family.  Today, we’re going to sort of combine the two subjects and talk about advice.  Specifically, parenting advice.

I do not like to receive unsolicited  parenting advice.  There you have it.  I don’t like when anyone tells me what to do with regards to the child that I am raising.  If I want an opinion, I will ask.

Also, I do not offer unsolicited parenting advice to people.  If someone asks my opinion, I will gladly give it, but…  Sometimes I do talk about parenting when I am blogging.  Though I may be giving advice, I am not aiming it towards any specific person, I’m merely sharing my thoughts on a subject.  I think writing about parenting in the abstract is not really advice (my blog, my rules)

I have a rough plan when it comes to how I want to parent my child.  If something is not working, I figure out how to change course.  So far, this method has worked for me.  The rules that I have thought about and put into practice work FOR ME.  They are great in our specific family dynamic.  They might not be great in someone else’s. (my house, my rules)

I have had people scoff at my parenting notions.  I have people that make very passive aggressive comments about how I choose to raise my child.  To say I get annoyed by this is an understatement.  It’s not that I don’t value other opinions, but let’s just say that I don’t like certain things about their children, so why would I want to repeat their mistakes?  This most closely applies to my Mother, because I see which of her actions caused my bad behavior patterns.  Behavior patterns that I find so abhorrent that I refuse to have my child ever thing the same way.  But enough of my emotional baggage for today.

(On a side note, if you do not have children- please don’t ever tell someone how to parent.  Just remember, everyone is the best parent in the world until they have children)

Now we come to the crux of my problem that I am writing about today.  I think my Sister is making a huge parenting mistake with my niece.  Notice how I used the word think.  I don’t know for sure if it is actually a mistake.  I have no actual psychological training with which to base my thoughts on, I’m going off of instinct.

I know that I don’t know everything (seriously- I know it often appears as if I think I know everything, but I really don’t think it or know everything).  But… My logic meter is telling me that my sisters actions don’t compute.  My emotional meter is telling me that my sisters actions don’t compute. Yet, I remain silent.  Because I don’t like to give parenting advice.

Should I break my rule?

When breaking a rule, you have to ask what the benefit will be.  I run the risk of my sister not ever speaking to me again. (she runs a little hot and holds grudges and is a blamer)  I run the risk of her giving me unsolicited advice.  But…is telling her my feelings going to be beneficial to my niece?  See, that’s the unknowable thing- I have no idea if I’m right and my sister is wrong.  I have no idea if my way of doing something is actually better.  Because there are no definitive rights and no definitive wrongs when it comes to parenting.  Different things work for different people in different situations.  Parenting doesn’t come with a rule book.

I’ve actually talked around the specific subject with my sister.  I know her feelings on the issue and I’ve tried to hypothetically point out things to her, so I know her stance.  To delve more into it would be pushing the boundaries.  I know I don’t like when my personal boundaries are pushed:  shouldn’t I respect the boundaries of others?  The issue is also one that would never specifically affect my child.  I have no personal knowledge of the issues faced, so it makes my opinion less valuable.  Do I have the right to comment on something I really know nothing about?

So here I sit- wondering what the best course of action is.  Because I just don’t know what to do.