I did not have the "cool" parents growing up. I was not allowed to go to parties, drink, hang out with bad influences, eat sugary breakfast cereal and Gushers, or date guys who my parents thought were too old for me. I looked around at all of my friends getting permission to do pretty much anything they wanted and filled with jealousy and curiosity as to why that wasn't my life.
A very common conversation in my household:
"But *insert friend's name here*'s parents let them!"
"I'm not *insert same friend's name here*'s parents."
At the time, I felt like my parents were suffocating me and not allowing me to make the mistakes I needed to make to develop as a person. Little did I know, the parenting I had was the absolute best parenting I could possibly have had. Looking back, I'm thankful for all of the rules, punishments, fights, and boundaries, because it did shape who I am as a person and a future parent.
That being said, to those who think their parents are too strict: trust the system. Rules are regulations are crucial for teaching valuable life lessons, regardless of how frustrating it may seem at the time. I cannot express in words how sheltered I felt growing up compared to a lot of my peers, but I now understand the parenting style and hope to apply this same guidance to my future family.
My favorite way to describe the parenting style I had growing up would be by comparing it to a retractable dog leash. My parents always let me explore my boundaries and make mistakes to learn from them, but pulled my back when I put myself or others in danger. They knew the lessons I needed to learn through trial and error, and there were always consequences when I did things that they knew I shouldn't. Getting punished insured that I would repeat mistakes, but also created the necessary separation between friend and parent.
Eventually, it would disappoint me to disappoint my parents, and that guilt was almost punishment enough to prevent me from doing anything I shouldn't. Sometimes I did feel like I was missing out on a lot of the things my peers were able to do. At the same time, however, I knew it was for the best and that my parents had my best interest at heart. When I did act as a regular rebellious teenager, my parents always were on my team and made sure I felt loved and cared for even when they needed to punish me.
Now that I'm older and have established right from wrong on my own, my relationship with my parents is something that others envy. We can joke around and act as best friends, but I also know that if I needed it, my parents would always be there to help me with life's hardest problems and decisions. The fights we had when I was younger and the teenage attitude is now something we can look back and laugh about.
Using my parents as models, I now know how I would one day like to raise my own children. Obviously, all kids are different and there are some things I would change. However, I know that if my children never hate me, I would not be doing my job correctly. I appreciate all of the times I felt like I was restricted and couldn't be who I wanted to be because now I realize that my parents were shaping me into the best person I could possibly be, and that's what I wish I would have wanted all along.
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