25 October 2016

I like my children

I like my children. They're good kids on the whole. Not perfect but none of us are.

I'm proud of the girls they are turning out to be. They're funny and focussed. They are stubborn and cuddly. They are kind. They take genuine delight in other people. They will tell me if they feel they have been wronged. They can rage with all the rage. They are amicable. They can be fierce. They are gentle. They are cheeky. They have great imaginations. They get hangry. They are loving. They are creative. They're bonkers.

Like all children, their positives overwhelmingly outweigh their negatives. Children by and large are pretty good fun to be around. And my own children, well they make my heart happy.

I enjoy spending time with them. But I love that they are sleeping in their own beds now. I like that they get each other up in the morning and play happily together without needing us, their parents, to be there for everything. I relish that independence even when I see the chaos that results from them playing happily for two hours before we wake up.

I'm also done with being apologetic about liking my children.

If I can't say great things about my child. I'm a shit mother.

Not because they are the greatest kids ever* but because they are my children. If I am raising children I don't like, that I don't delight in, that aren't the very best versions of themselves - it's because I'm an arsehole parent.

And you can quote me on that.

I want them to know that I always believe in them. I want them to say when they get older, "I knew my parents loved me even when I wasn't being very loveable." I want them to know that their parents always talk up them up to others, that we rejoice in them.

Trash talking your own children is shitty parenting. It's small minded. It's mean. It says so much about your own imperfections and prejudices and very little about them.

I'm not talking about acknowledging that they've been contraceptive some days, or that they're driving you demented, or any of those things which are a normal part of relationships at any age. I am not talking about keeping it real or setting boundaries for them as they grow.

I'm talking about the parents that always find fault with their children. That speak about them disparagingly in front of them. That only share the stories retelling negative experiences. The ones that roll their eyes or tut righteously whenever they launch into a tale about their offspring.

There is so much joy in children and the adults they become. As parents our role is to focus on the positive and teach them to manage the negatives. It's our job to love them stupidly and without reason. It's our job to raise children we like. How can they be resilient adults if they are surrounded by negativity the whole way through their childhood?

All the science shows that being an arsehole to a child stays with them and informs their inner voice as they grow older. It affects their confidence, their sense of worth, their ability to form healthy relationships.

So no. I choose not to be that parent. The one that belittles their child. That doesn't rejoice in them. That judges my child for their imperfections.

So yes, I love my children. I am happy to tell you that. I'm happy to share all the things about them that I love and delight in. I will shout from the rooftops about things they say or do if I am so inclined.

Because I want them to do that for other people.  And how can they do it if they don't experience it?

I choose love. I choose pride. I choose happiness. I choose to embrace the people they are and the people they will become.**

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* They are actually the greatest kids ever.
** Even if they grow up to wear crocs, vote conservatively and start a velour fashion label.