Friday, March 14, 2008

Parenting or Personality?

We were out at the No Frills not too long ago, shopping for some last minute dinner (PC Butter Chicken, if you're The Boy, eschewing the stroller, was running around ankle-biter style, endlessly commenting on the things in the store and asking repeatedly for chocolate. The lady behind us in line smiled and remarked on how happy and well-behaved the Boy seemed to be. I didn't hear the comment exactly because I was off somewhere wrangling one of the kids - I can't remember which but does it really matter? My current occupation is Kid Wrangler Extraordinaire, and if I'm not with one kid, then I'm with the other. Let's move on to my point. Mr Earth replied that "Yes, we're very lucky". To which, the lady answered:

"Oh no, it's not luck, it's the parenting."

At first I thought that it was a lovely compliment, and I was quite flattered. Ever since then, though, I've been mulling it over in my head and wondering if it really is our parenting that has created the Boy, or whether the Boy is simply a good-natured, (mostly) easygoing kid.

Before you start thinking that this is a braggy bragamondo post, I've had people describe the Boy as a "handful" (yeah, that waiter didn't get a tip, nosiree..) and I've had my fair share of disdainful looks while the Boy is full out tantruming (is that a word?) in his stroller. Screaming. At. The. Top. Of. His. Lungs. Usually because I turned left when he wanted to go right, or brought fishy crackers when he wanted bunny ones.

You see, I don't think we've done anything especially wonderful and ground-breaking as parents. Just tried to be there for him, play with him, talk to him and treat him like a person. And try not to scream too much, even when we're tired. And we're tired too much. I'd like to believe that all the Parenting books I've read have shaped me into SuperMom, but the reality is that I read those books and think "What a great idea!", try to incorporate the idea into our lives, but my mind is a sieve, and great ideas go out the window when I'm tired and someone is screaming. Or I'm tired. Wait, I think I said that already..

Whatever we did right with the Boy, is something I'd like to repeat with the Little Guy. I'd like him to fool people into thinking he's well behaved too. Heh, heh. But how can we do that when we didn't "do" anything? Or worse, how can we do anything at all if personality is the the key, and not parenting?

Mostly I'm an average parent. A lot of times, I'm rather poor. Sometimes, I have moments of brilliance. Those moments, though, are few and far between.


Beck said...

I just had a POOR PARENTING MOMENT myself, which is why I'm on my computer right now.
I think that it's probably half and half or some other similar equation - part of it is the genetic lottery and part of it is parenting - and how well your child responds to your particular brand of parenting is another thing that factors in, too.

kittenpie said...

I really think it's a mix. Even easier children have their moments, and require responding accordingly. Even an easier child can be given too much rein, while a wilder kid might need a different approach. Basically, I think the parent needs to guide and teach and give the children tools and limits for their behaviour and self-control, but you also have to work with what you get, because you can't really change or totally mold them, either.

Bea said...

I always think of those pats on the back (whether administered by self or others) as loans taken out on a VERY high-interest credit card. You always end up paying for them later, and paying steeply.

Anonymous said...

When people compliment my kids I always say, "Thanks. You've just jinxed me."

My boys are close in age, close in appearance and yet complete opposites. The hardest lesson to learn is that what worked for one (in terms of interests, discipline and diet) will NOT necessarily work with the other. I've got a deep thinker and I've got a showman. It is a tough mix somedays.

Kyla said...

I have to agree. I also think that if that particular lady had seen you at a not so great moment, like during a tantrum, she probably would have blamed parenting for that, too, and we both know that isn't true.

Kelly said...

My firstborn was incredibly (and I think, unnaturally, compliant). Our secondborn has been much more of a parenting challenge (and I think, more along the lines of most kiddos challenging the authority of their parents.) Certainly how we parent is important -- consistency, rules, respect, kindness -- but their personalities are also a huge factor in behavior, as we're totally finding out every day.

crazymumma said...

ah. But just having written about it shows you are one of teh thoughtful, one of those who are willing to go just a bit further in the ATTEMPT to do it well.

Oh. and as per your comment my way. I was TOTALLY the highschool nerd! And it amde no difference as to my here and now. Funny huh?

And, as too Songbird? Thank you thank you thank you! We are at teh strictly base ABC's i23's right now...its not so much the french as teh ability at this point in time we think. But I WILL call on you if need be! So generus. These are the reasons I love this community.

bren j. said...

What I hate is the comment that goes: "Oh! She's just so well-behaved! But just wait till your next one. THEN you'll have your hands full!"

motherbumper said...

I don't think I'd ever use the word average to describe you especially in the arena of parenting.

Lisa b said...

Ha Alpha dogma has it right - as soon as someone says that the kids will certainly turn on you.

Would that woman have told you you were bad parents if she had caught you at a cranky time?
I just finished reading Schulyer's Monster, in one section the author describes a woman critising the behaviour or his child who has a brain disorder.
Yes we do work hard at this, but luck does play a part.

mamatulip said...

I think it's a little from column A and a little from column B.

And I think you're much more than an average parent.

Mac and Cheese said...

Meh! Take the compliment. You must be a stellar mom!