Even when we look at our own families, it’s easy to see that we all live such different lives. Even as babies, we have our own preferences for flavours, sounds, textures and sights. As we get a little older our lives continue to take different shapes – we might hang out with a babysitter while Mum or Dad work, maybe we make some interesting new friends at daycare or school. We might start to learn different skills, watch different shows, and play with different toys than our parents did. We face different challenges to our parents, siblings, and even friends. Suddenly, one day we are older, and our own kids are growing in a different world to the one we did and learning their own ways of living and loving.
When we think about the different lives within our own household or family network, they can feel infinite. Some of us may have lived through the moon landing. Some of us might remember when we first had access to the internet. Some of us might be too young to know what a Gameboy is. Some of us might even think Shrek is a movie from the “olden days” (shivers!). Within one household, we might have been born in different countries, towns, seasons and hospitals. Even within our small family our lives can be so different, and we can all be so unique. So… families will always have a mix of values. A mix of things that they want to prioritise, believe in, or focus their energy on.
With all those different values swirling around, what do we do when our differences clash? Like, we might find quiet time important when our kids really value music… or learning the recorder. Maybe we really believe in doing regular family time, except our kids want to hang out with their mates. Maybe you always dreamed of a family who eat and have meals together but your kids are at the age where they just won’t sit still. Our older kids might want to start dating when we might think it’s not something they should focus on yet. Maybe our partner values late nights and we value early mornings. The differences can be tough to navigate. But, luckily as humans, we’re wired to communicate, work through conflicts, negotiate and adapt. Starting by pointing out the differences, “Hey I’ve noticed you really enjoy music on a Saturday morning, while I enjoy a sleep-in” is a good place to start. Then explaining why those things are important to us and figuring out if there is a way that both needs can be met, at least some of the time, helps to make a happy home. Like, if our family doesn’t know that quiet time in the morning has become important to us, they’re not going to think twice about pumping out the latest hits on a Saturday. And if music has become important to them, we can negotiate when that happens, or take turns having our perfect Saturday morning. Because when our kids see that we respect them and what they’re passionate about, they’re going to respect what we value too.
So, let’s treat ourselves to some time today thinking about how well we know what’s important to your kids. And… how well do they know what’s important to you? Checking-in with each other often (because values change!) helps us keep each other’s values in mind, and even think about ways to support them. And as our kids grow, there will always be times when we’re not sure we agree with their choices. When we find we don’t see eye to eye, chatting about it regularly and asking our kids questions with curiosity can help them know we are a safe place to think things through. But when we’re not sure how steer our kids in the right direction there is so much support out there. Talking to other parents can provide amazing support – bouncing ideas off each other, figuring out what’s normal, and just having someone who gets it can make all the difference. So, let’s reach out to other parents. And we might find ways we can support them back – that’s what Talking Families is all about. The folks at Parentline are also great to talk to, and only a phone call away. And the oneplace website is the fastest way to find support services near you, all across Queensland. When it comes to support for parents – we’re spoiled for choice! So, let’s make use of our supports and do this parenting thing together.