In my line of work as a RI children's photographer, I meet a lot of parents. A lot of wonderful, amazing parents who are raising a whole new generation of fantastic people. Being a parent is likely the most rewarding job that you'll ever do...and probably the most stressful, too.
Sometimes parents will lament that they're not sure if they're doing it right. Or they will often say that they swear that their child just doesn't listen to a THING they say! It's really frustrating to think that you're trying to prepare your children for adult life and they seem to have a case of selective hearing.
Well, let me tell you, they are listening. They may pretend they're not sometimes, but they are. How do I know this? I was a child. A somewhat stubborn child. Possibly one with a bad case of selective hearing. But guess what? My parents still taught me lots of things. They were always teaching and showing, whether I knew it or not, just like you are with your kids. And some of the easiest, simplest lessons they have taught me have really helped me out in life.
Read on to find out what these lessons are (and prepare yourself for some vintage photos of photos!) Also remember: you're doing it right, and your'e doing a great job.
LESSON 1: HOW TO PROBLEM SOLVE
As children, my brothers and I were encouraged to find solutions to our problems, whether that problem be a homework issue, a problem between friends, fixing something broken, or making a trap for birds (as pictured above). We were always given guidance and our questions were answered, and if we got really stuck, there was always help available. But we were also given the confidence to use our own knowledge to figure things out. This helps a lot as an adult...especially when assembling Ikea furniture.
LESSON 2: HOW TO BE OK WITH BEING BY MYSELF.
I come from a fairly large family; I have four siblings. So there was usually someone to play with...but not always. Sometimes my brothers didn't want to play, or weren't home. Daddy was at work, Mommy was vacuuming, or playing with the baby. During those times, I was encouraged to play by myself. It was a foreign concept at first, but one that grew on me. As an adult, I am OK with doing so many things by myself, and I'm SO happy I learned how to be ok with just myself (and my blue elephant).
LESSON 3: CREATIVITY IS AWESOME.
If I wanted to dress up in my grandma's old clothes, affect an English accent, and engage people in the grocery store while in character, great! If we wanted to stage intense five-act plays where the main characters were GI Joes, Barbies, and My Little Ponies, my parents would be there opening night. Drawings, paintings, forays into writing...all of these were met with enthusiasm. All this helped me learn that being who I am is always OK, and I'm pretty sure it also helped me to realize just how much photography feeds my creative soul.
LESSON 4: HOW TO COOK
I really like food. It's tasty. My mom was (and is) always making something good. My dad has some specialties, too...he makes an amazing French toast. My mom always let us help with baking and cooking (even if that helping was mainly licking the beaters). By being in the kitchen when mom or dad was cooking, we learned all about how to follow a recipe, when it's ok to wing it, when we should broil vs bake vs saute, what a "pinch" of salt really is, how to knead dough, and so many other things. My own cooking has grown lots since I first moved out on my own, but I'm thankful that I had a solid base to start with in regards to cooking, and didn't have to resort to having takeout or bowls of cereal for dinner TOO much.
LESSON 5: HOW TO DO A CARTWHEEL
I'm pretty good at cartwheels if I do say so myself. You know where I learned how to do one? From my dad. He taught me when I was about 5 or 6. You may be giving me the side eye right now, but cartwheels are a pretty good life skill to know. They totally helped when I did competitive gymnastics, and you never know when you might get into a cartwheel contest at any age. Trust me. So thanks, Daddy, for teaching me how to do a cartwheel.
What life skill do you hope to pass on to your kids? Let me know in the comments!