Parenting is hard.
You never know if you’re really doing the right thing, until your children are young adults making decisions. To me, that’s where part of the proof is. Here’s how I know.
Today, is my youngest daughter, Desi’s first day of organic farming school. She now lives approximately 900 miles away in another state, so she can complete a two-year organic farming program.
While I believe that all children are born with their own personalities, I also believe that we as parents can either nurture or stunt those natural-born identities with our parenting style.
Desi choosing to be an organic farmer is an example of how Dwight and I nurtured her personality.
We both believe people should do what they want to do if they can live with the consequences. This concept extends to both of our daughters. Although we believe this idea, it hasn’t been easy to put into practice (well, not always for me, anyway).
For example, Desi graduated high school in 2020 with an international baccalaureate (IB) diploma. It’s as prestigious as it sounds. Because of her degree and intelligence, she could have attended any university in the world. But she didn’t want to.
Believe it or not, part of what was hard about parenting her through this was listening to everyone’s judgment associated with allowing our child not to attend college.
Doesn’t she know how important college is?
What I said: Of course, I have three degrees and Dwight has one. We’re walking examples of “go to college to be successful.”
What is she going to do?
What I said: She’s going to work and figure out what she wants to do.
She’s going to be at your house til she’s thirty.
This came from someone I’d just met. My actual response is too long and inappropriate for this blog.
Judgments withstanding, things have worked out. She took a year to think about her actual interests. She used the internet to research programs. She found an organic farming program: they pay her to attend, they pay for housing, and they will set her up to be a successful organic farmer.
Sounds like a win-win-win to me.
But what happens when success doesn’t come quickly or look like “success?” Dwight and I still nurture with the same belief system, but in a different way.
Our oldest daughter, Kesi was afforded similar freedoms.* She has the freedom to do what she wants. She was supposed to be a hairstylist but (in my opinion) got distracted. Distractions are okay. And again, children have different personalities. Life hasn’t unfolded the same for her. However, we still maintain Kesi can live how she wants. We would never try to impose what we think she should be doing onto her experience in life. That’s hella arrogant.
Nurturing Kesi looks like having lots of conversation about cause and effect. And the one consistent thing that Dwight and I do, aside from showing how not to live in fear and teaching how to be accountable for your own life is supporting our daughters no matter what they choose to do and no matter what the outcome.
We don’t withhold love, support, or encouragement because their lives don’t look like ours. They both receive the same words of affirmation, quality time, and financial assistance.
I’m pretty sure they both know we value intelligence and education, but they also know we respect whatever it is they want to do, whether that is organic farming or working at Starbucks.
*I hope it doesn’t sound like I think we can give freedoms. People are born free and liberated, but sometimes specific parenting styles can make it seem as if freedom to be who you want is something that children have to earn; and that’s not true.