The Evolution of Mothering (or “Parental Drift”)

The Evolution of Parenting

Remember when you used to say you would never wipe your children’s noses on their shirts or let them play outside barefooted because that was just tacky, and then you had yourself 7 more children and now you have to warn them that if they get in that van without shoes on and with that shirt on they are facing the strong possibility of being picked up by CPS or animal control?

Or maybe that’s just me.

What I’m saying is that over time, partly due to necessity, and partly due to experience and wisdom, our standards and ideals do a little shifting.

For example, I have slowly evolved from a strict “Well Trained Mind” homeschooler to a much more relaxed “Charlotte Mason-ish” type with a hint of self directed learning thrown in for good measure. Because of the needs of our large family and Mama’s sanity, this evolution was necessary and beneficial to everyone involved.

Sometimes though, this shift is unintentional and when we notice how far we are from our goals, we can correct our drift and get back on the right path.

This “getting back on the right path” happened in our family this week.

Back BTJL (Before the Job Loss) we used to require our kids to pay for the events they wanted to attend, like movies with friends, or youth group trips to Six Flags. They were fully aware of this, and would consider whether an evening of fun was worth what it cost them in labor to get the money they would be spending.

Then, when my husband suddenly lost his job, every extra curricular activity came screeching to a halt. No more gymnastics lessons, no summer camp, no movie nights. We were completely focused on paying our mortgage during that time, and our children understood this.

Then after a few months of unemployment and a couple of part-time jobs, my husband landed the best paying job of our marriage! We went from literally no income to a plentiful income in a matter of weeks!

So we kinda sorta went crazy with our celebrating and spending.

After months of saying “no spending”, we said yes to everyone and everything.

Yes, you can have money for a movie. Yes, we can give $100 to a friend’s adoption fund. Yes, you can have a new purse. Yes, we can donate money to the church camp scholarship fund (like someone did for us). Yes, we can give a friend money to pay her rent this month.

Until one day, I checked our bank account and we had $17 in there.

No kidding.

So, we had to pull back and start saying “no” again.

The evolution of parenting

That’s when I remembered our goal of giving our kids the gift of being responsible consumers. I had to remind myself it isn’t mean to say “no.” I needn’t feel as though I’m depriving them of something when I tell them if they want to go to a youth event, they may pay for it themselves. I am actually giving them something very important. I am giving them the sense that money is earned through labor, and spending it is a voluntary act, based on whether you believe the product or activity is worth the labor it costs.

This sudden shift in my thinking, back to our original values and goals, was a shock to my kids recently. When I announced that I would be happy for them to go to the 2 activities their friends had planned this weekend, if they wanted to pay for it, they thought maybe I would cave in if they protested. I didn’t, and in the end, one teen decided the cost wasn’t worth it, unlike her siblings who went without her.

Here’s the thing. Sometimes our parenting philosophies and methods change because we reevaluate our old goals and make adjustments accordingly. But sometimes they change without us noticing, and we have to get them back on track.

If your parenting has changed, evaluate why. Maybe it’s a good thing and a better fit for your family. If it was an unintentional drift, don’t sweat it. Just make some corrections and get back on course.

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Comments

  1. Anna Rounseville says:

    Loled, Good Article. You’re comedic timing is great! Glad you found your rudder and are back toward your original course. Also glad you and your hubby are being blessed by a good salary/paycheck. Keep writing, clearly you have something good to say.
    Sincerely, Anna

  2. What an awesome post. So we just had this converstaion with my 8 year who i s autistic. He wanted the skylanders swapforce characters. I told him when we left home he could only have 6. So we get to Toyrus and they are having a sale and you can put them on layaway. So I told him we can get all of them and we have to put them on layaway and he can do chores around the house. Since he is autistic it is a good teaching tool and motivate r for behaving well as school. My boys know the concept of money and we have to teach them that we need money for a rainy day we never know what may happened. I’m a mother of 6 and our mothering does change over time.

  3. I love this! I am a new mommy and when I do certain things, other more experience mom’s always tell me “oh, you’ll stop doing that after such-and-such amount of children” and I think part of that is good (relaxing and such) but part of it is unintentional or laziness in some aspects. I think we need to constantly be evaluating what and why we’re doing things as parents.

    Blessings,
    Nicole @ WKH

  4. This is excellent, and so true!

    When I was a new mom at 19 years old, I was appalled that moms shoved pacifiers in their babies mouths just to shut them up. Now, I’m all, “where’s that pacifier so I can plug this kid up!” ; )

    We have some shifting to do too around here to get things back on track.

  5. My kids notice when we have a shift, sometimes I have to tell them that if it works in their favor go with it! They are so funny and love to remind me of things, even when it works against them:D
    We also believe in teaching the kids about money, most of the toys they get these days they have to find a way to buy themselves, because I am not buying toys. I’ll pay for books as rewards but I will not pay for toys. They aren’t happy but they still seem to find ways.

  6. Do you give them allowances or jobs to earn money? How do you decide how much to give them, is it based on age? Also, what happens if you don’t have the
    money to pay for allowance or chores during a particular week due to Dad’s
    paycheck being lower than expected (ie.. sales/commision jobs)?
    Just curious.. I’m a mom of 8 homeschoolers and have always struggled with
    paying for everything and them not learning the value of a dollar.

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