I will be the first to tell you that I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent. Sure, I can give you tips about what I do, but parenting as a whole, I don’t subscribe to any ideology other than “Raise Good Humans.”
Now that my oldest is nearing four years old (how is that possible?), I’ve started thinking more intentionally about what I am teaching him and how that will shape his identity.
Identity has been a topic that has been circling within our home lately. My husband was adopted from the Philippines when he was two months old, and for the first time in his 32 years is starting to reflect on his identity and how adoption shaped that. Our children are his first links to his bloodline, his first relationship with biological family.
To someone who was not adopted, the birth of our children certainly has significance. But for someone like my husband, seeing his own descendants has been profound. Walking, talking pieces of his DNA roam our house.
As someone who is married to an adult adoptee, it affects me as well. And while I can’t unpack my husband’s thoughts and feelings about searching for his identity, it has led me to seek out resources about the emotional aspects of adoption.
I posted within a writers’ group that I am a part of on Facebook looking for anyone who has a significant other who was adopted or any other link to it. This led me to a Facebook page called Yes I’m Adopted. Don’t Make It Weird. These are two adult men who were adopted and give a realistic, level-headed breakdown of adoption and its affects on the adoptee. I haven’t listened to all of their episodes, but so far I think it is a tremendous resource.
I was folding laundry the other night and decided to play an episode, which so happened to be on identity. As usual, I didn’t get too far in before I was interrupted by a kid needing something from me. So I haven’t revisited the episode.
But what I did hear was excellent advice in regard to any parenting. Basically, we are shaping our kids’ identities in how we speak to them, speak of them, and what we show them. For example, one of the guys shares that his kids don’t say “I’m bored” because it’s taught in his house that they have brains that work so it’s not possible for them to get bored. They can use their brain to do something to entertain themselves. This is something that was taught to him by his parents and he recounted that it really shaped his mindset.
He also said that he tells his daughter how smart she is, how kind she is, etc. This is building her confidence and self-worth.
And this really got me thinking about how my words and actions are shaping my kids. As a Mama Bear, I am quick to want to help my kids and comfort and protect them. And sometimes I just want to do things for them because it’s easier. I realize now that I need to let my kids figure things out for themselves to give them the confidence that they are capable.
I want to raise smart, happy, and kind boys, and as my kids continue to grow older, parenting becomes more than just fulfilling the basic needs of love, food, and shelter. As parents, we have a profound effect on our kids and who they will become.