Parenting

 

To my parents,

 

When I study parenting and analyze the strategies, pros, and cons to either traditional or contemporary parenting, I always found myself wondering: “but my parents did not do that, so how did I learn? How do I value the things I value? How did I develop such a conscience and such a vision of what is right and what is wrong, when I had never really faced ‘punishment’ to train me? How did they implant such morality in my head?

           

I’m not sure if either of you know this, but for years I have been trying to discover the “trick” to you and mom’s parenting. I used to always judge by comparison. Since I was constantly exposed to different cultures and different traditional mannerisms that shape most parenting techniques, I was always left in utter confusion because neither you nor mom follow the ‘traditional’ or “contemporary” styles of parenting to such a degree. The questions bothered me for years. And still to this day, I’m not sure of your exact ‘formula’ of parenting; however, I came across an article for my introduction to education class today that may have hinted at your trick.

 

The article was discussing the adverse effects of having working class parents that do not, realistically, have enough time for their children. The article took its turn and began to highlight the aspects of parents who adapt to their overwhelming work schedule and still make time for their children.

           

“Without being aware of it, Charles’ parents are employing a principle that the great Russian educator Makarenko employed in his extraordinarily successful programs for the reform of wayward adolescents in the 1920s: ‘The maximum of support with the maximum of challenge.’ Families that produce effective, competent children often follow this principle, whether they’re aware of it or not. They neither maintain strict control nor allow their children total freedom. They’re always opening doors – and then giving their children a gentle but firm shove to encourage them to move on and grow. This combination of support and challenge is essential, if children are to avoid alienation and develop into capable young adults.”

 

The maximum of support with the maximum of challenge.” While this may not be the most accurate portrayal of your parenting tactics, it is cutting it pretty close. The “firm shove to encourage [me] to move on and grow” is probably the best challenge I have ever endured. Though I was given almost total freedom with no definite perception of what you and mom’s expectations were, I still managed to endure the challenge.

 

I specifically remember, during middle school, how thoroughly convinced I was that you and mom were wrong in your parenting. Just because I did not have a set list of rules or a feasible degree of independence, I felt as though I did not belong because of the way my family operated. I was envious of those who were able to take the bus and/or walk home, or were left home alone until five or six pm. I never understood the advantage I had in having a dad who worked at home and a mom who was always there to pick me up from school. In fact, I saw it as a hindrance to my growth. Because I wasn’t given such responsibility on the spot, I jumped to the unhealthy conclusion that you and mom did not trust me. Thus, I struggled to rebel and prove my responsibility and maturity. I was so obsessed with the generic definition of independence that I lost sight of how independent I was slowly becoming.

 

I guess my point in disclosing so much is that I want to thank you guys. Regardless of my obnoxious stages in growth, you stayed true to your ideas of parenting, and I could not be more thankful for it. You stayed active in my childhood and my teenage years, and that is what built my conscience. It is not necessarily that I am haunted by your omnipresence, but rather, I have been surrounded by specific values for so long that they inevitably became my own. Not forcibly, but voluntarily. I was never afraid of punishment because it was foreign to your styles, but I had to worry about coming home high or drunk, because I had people I would disappoint if I did so. That swayed me to go the other route.

 

Every day I came home to a dad who values politics, higher thinking, and culture, which inevitably got me interested/involved in all of those things. I also came home to a mom who is the most caring and loving, saint-like woman, who is intact with all household chores and does so perfectly despite the rigor of her work schedule. Those also inevitably led me to value and learn such traditional, respectful, and caring qualities in the midst of a generation that has abandoned them.

 

Additionally, you were not the strict parent figures nor were you the lenient parent figures. You were a mixture of both. And though there are many children out there who have astounding relationships with their parents, I think it is safe to say that my relationship with both you and mom is unique. It is one that is open to discussion, and that is something that played a significant role in not only the comfort ability, but also the growth. Rather than asserting your authority over me, you both discussed matters with me.  

 

It was almost like a Socratic method of bringing up what I already knew through instilled values and senses of morality, but just needed to recollect. You were present and parental in my life at a pace that was just right and accumulated perfectly to my rate of growth. You let me make my own decisions and did not ever let my motives be run by fear of punishment or by excitement for a reward. Good grades were applauded, but I never received tangible rewards, like money, for an A. Instead, I got money whenever I asked for it. The both of you somehow made it so that I learned the value of the important things in life completely independently.

 

Though that set me up for a late understanding, it set me up for a valuable understanding. It is an understanding that is still not achieved by most who have had these values instilled in them earlier on. You applied the most effective process of teaching/parenting: allowing me to teach myself. It’s amazingly contradictory that I am blessed with a family who shaped my morals and values today, but at the same time, I independently recognized those morals and values.

 

I may even be wrong on some of this, because like I said, I am still in the process. Throughout all of my attempts at discovering how you and mom do it, I still have only reached one, positive conclusion: you did it right. You did it remarkably and you did it in a unique manner. I still may be wrong on how, because judgment depends on circumstance, but it was still an effective way of parenting. And I want to thank you and mom for constantly going out of your way, putting in the exhausting effort, and maintaining your patience and your tolerance, to make me who I am today. Of course there were cons to the situation and I still, obviously, have my flaws. But, my ability to recognize those flaws without the act being an overwhelming depressant, an ignorant evasion, nor stymied by an over-inflated ego, is all thanks to you. I appreciate you both more than you will ever know and I really hope that you are not blinded by my unique way of showing my love and appreciation. Thank you so much for truly being the best parents in the world.

           

Lily Purqurian

November 3, 2011