Letters to My Daughter

There are many things I worry my daughter will miss out on as a result of technology — holding a book, flipping through a magazine, rushing to see her favorite show on a particular day at a particular time. But perhaps the one that saddens me the most is writing and reading letters.

My husband will tell you this is because I’m obsessed with stationary, which I cannot deny, but there is much more to writing real, physical letters than quality stock paper with pretty patterns. It is the personal touch of seeing someone’s handwriting, the excitement when it arrives in the mail among its sad counterparts like bills and circulars.

My high school sweetheart used to go away to summer camp and we spent three long months with no way to correspond but through letters. It was perhaps the greatest thing that defined our young romance — these long love letters which still sit in a shoebox tucked away in my closet. They remind me of who I was before life got too busy to sit and describe not only scenery and activities but the depth of feelings captured at a moment in time.

I’ve been determined to give this gift to my daughter and so I write letters to her a few times a year. I write them on her birthday or at particular milestones (like her first day of school). I keep them stored away for her to read someday. She is too young yet for me to know how she’ll feel about them, and I realize she may not become a lover of letters or be inclined to write ones of her own, but I do hope it will connect us in a way that helps her understand how profoundly she has changed my life and how deeply I love her. Tonight’s homework, write a love letter to your child.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/

Unpopular Parenting

Unpopular Parenting

There are a few things as a parent I’m sure of: 1) I love my children beyond all measure, 2) I would do anything to keep them safe and 3) many days my children do not like me.

I am what many would call a strict parent. My husband and I are sticklers for certain house rules like a consistent bedtime, trying all foods a few times before deciding you don’t like it, cleaning up after yourself and having good manners. When rules are broken, we employ time outs or take away favorite toys. We’ve walked out of parties or stores when tantrums have ensued and we don’t give in to whining.

I don’t do these things to be mean, and many days I know my life would be easier if I just agreed to more TV time or picked up the Legos myself (both would certainly save me a lot of time!). But my husband and I subscribe to being unpopular parents because we want our kids to have boundaries, to be appreciative and ultimately to be independent from us (though some nights when I am in their good graces, snuggling them tight I wonder if it would be so bad if they wanted to live at home with me forever).

In the midst of a recent disagreement with my daughter she said “You’re mean and I just don’t like you.” Hard to hear and definitely made me take pause to wonder if being the “strict” parents is a mistake. Would she really grow up not liking me, mad about the lost hours of her childhood spent cleaning up her toys? Then I read 5 Reasons Modern Parenting is in Crisis, which describes the potential problems with being afraid of your children. I felt somewhat vindicated in my approach and while I know being called mean won’t be the worst thing my daughter says to me I do hope she grows up to be respectful and responsible and maybe just maybe likes me a little.