This year is particularly poignant because it is my son’s final year of school.
It did not seem that long ago when my husband and I walked him through the school gates on his first day of school, age 7.
There we stood, lumps in the back of our throats, a quietness descended upon the parents as they waited for their children to be filed into classrooms.
Parents refer to these years as the best but living them at the time nothing seemed farther from the truth.
The human psyche has an amazing propensity to forget the bad times we all experienced during our school days and only recall the fun times.
Larking about waiting for the bus, sneaking out of R.E. lessons when the old timer teaching it more often than not fell asleep.
How do we know we’ve done the best for our children?
What grading system do they use to mark us by?
A = Excellent
B = Good
C = Adequate
Maybe it is the answering back or worse still the pretending “I didn’t hear you mum” as I end up screaming for the tenth time of calling.
How can we be sure that we have raised our children right and that they are thankful for all that we do as parents?
We aim to show children right from wrong and hopefully steer them onto the right path. As my husband so neatly described it ‘if our kids are still talking to us in our sixties then we’ve done something right.’
It appears to be a good barometer to measure parenting, but, I want to be sure that god willing when the eldest leaves he will turn around and say thanks mum and dad you’ve been good parents, it hasn’t been all bad.
Is that too high an expectation?
Should parents expect their children to say “thank you” does it appear narcissistic that we should want our children to be grateful for all that we’ve done, the sacrifices we’ve made and changes we’ve adopted to accommodate their well being.
It is a question that has perplexed me because I have never ever questioned the need for my children to validate me as a person or as a parent so why now?
Where is the line drawn?
We want to give our children everything we didn’t have and more.
The competitive nature of society and peer pressure at school means that children want but don’t necessarily need the most current popular gadget.
If our children are to be thankful it is because we have taught them “gratitude”; learning to appreciate what they have when there are others less fortunate.
Teenagers don’t understand the value of money or the real cost of things until they have to work for it, a car that costs £8000 or a mortgage of £1,250 a month but they do understand that a new PS4 game is £40+ or to download an album from iTunes might cost £7.99.
If my children ask for something when we are out shopping together it usually comes in the form of I wish I had enough money to… when I ask them how much it is? I ask them if they had to pay for it out of their pocket money would they still buy it?
I get a very different answer, it is easier for them to spend someone else’s money but when it’s their own they aren’t quite so keen.
By helping them grasp the difference between I don’t really need it but I’d like to have it my kids have started to appreciate that there are loads of things that we could go out and buy if money grew on trees but, when funds are limited looking at something and deciding if you like it but don’t really need it makes more sense.
It is Open University season where mad parents like me drive their kids to all corners of this great country to visit Universities.
With 4 done and 2 to go I’m at least grateful that my eldest had the gumption to narrow down his choice to six.
As I walked with my son in Durham chatting away whilst we looked at his course options and the facilities, I couldn’t help but think how fortunate he is to have me as a mother, and I am sure I speak for many mothers who give up a lot of time and money, more so than our mothers ever did for us.
The realisation that each step we were taking together represented another step closer to him making a decision that would mean leaving home and I had to fight back the tears
I couldn’t help think about my relationship with my own parents, and the importance of ensuring you keep the door open and welcome your kids through it no matter how insignificant their problem is, making it easy for your kids to come and chat with you about anything is surely the start of developing a long term friendship with them.
The relationship has to change from being parent-child to parent-friend, with mutual respect, love and a relationship on equal terms.
As the child grows they rely on the care, love, support and advice their parents offer them and you hope they listen.
As parents grow into old age this pendulum swings toward the children, they are more switched on with what is going on in the world, news and technology it is at that point that parents start to rely on their children for advice and support.
If that balance is unequal then the parent- child relationship continues into adulthood with parents treating their offspring not as fully grown adults but as children in adult clothing, not allowing them to be adults in their own right with their own ideas and choices to make.
I have my preferred choices where I think my son should study, he is a young man and must make his own choices it is not for me to try and dissuade him but it is difficult.
It was at that pivotal moment that I realised what the parent-child, parent-friend relationship truly means.
Our relationship is moving on from me being the parent advising, telling and pushing him to being a supporter, advisor and hopefully trusted friend.
I will always be his mum and I hope above all else a friend and as long as he knows he can talk to me and that I will always be there for him then our friendship will hopefully stand the test of time and love.