Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Parenting: one size fits all?

One of the girls I dated in high school came from a family of four daughters and no sons. I actually felt a bit sorry for the father. After all, to be the only man in a house full of women? At the time, I couldn't imagine what it would be like.
Now, I don't have to imagine it. I am living it.
And you know what? I couldn't be happier. I have four daughters: a brunette, a blonde, a red head, and a strawberry blonde. And each of them are as different as their hair color.
My wife and I have learned over the years that a "one size fits all" approach to parenting doesn't work. Granted, there are some universal truths in raising kids, but how you go about doing it may depend on the child.
My red head, for example, has what we call a "tender heart", meaning, she is very sensitive. All I have to do to make her cry is look at her sternly. At the same time, she is quick to forgive. She also makes friends very easily. As a younger child, she would say, "I love everybody!" and she meant it. She is quick to give hugs.
My brunette is extremely organized and very much like her daddy as she likes gadgets (hello ipod touch!) as well as always looking to be fair and do the right thing. She is a fiercely loyal friend.
The blonde? She is very smart. Like, spooky smart. In addition, she has a very understated sense of humor. She's extremely clever, but in a quiet way. She is like her mother in many aspects--very practical and thoughtful.
And then there is the baby of the family. This little strawberry blonde is like the son I never had. She loves legos and playing ball. She has a boy cousin the same age that lives close and when the two of them get together, they can play for hours on end. In fact, this little boy cousin once said of her, "She's only a girl on Sunday when she wears a dress."
These wonderful children of mine have taught me so much in life. They also have taught my wife.
While things are a bit easier now that they are older, it wasn't always so. The oldest three were born about 18 months apart, so we had our hands full for those first few years.
My wife tells a story of when the red head and hit the blonde with a toy or something when they were very young. The blonde started crying, obviously, because she just got hit. My wife came to see what happened and asked the blonde, "Why are you crying?"
"Because my little sister hit me!"
Sleep deprived and frustrated with the latest minor conflict between the children, in the heat of the moment my wife said, "Well, just hit her back!" (Understand my wife is one of the sweetest and gentlest people in the world, so this was extremely out of character)
The blonde looked up to my wife, tears forming in her big blue eyes and said, "No, Mommy. I love my little sister. I don't want to hurt her."
My wife marveled at this little girl who could show so much love and forgiveness. She choked back her own tears at the tender moment.
However, without missing a beat, the brunette spoke up and said, "I'll do it!"

No comments:

Post a Comment