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    • My 3.5 years old daughter only wears tshirts these days to imitate her father who is currently her role model. Yesterday when I told her birthday is in December, she started crying. She wants it to be October, her dad's month of birth. I laughed and left it at that.

      This morning, she wanted to wear a shabby tshirt to school and I suggested she wear a nice clean frock. I should perhaps have stopped there. I foolishly told her teacher and other kids would laugh at her dress if she wore it. "So what? Let them laugh!" was the instantaneous reply. I was shocked first, but later realised I would have said the same thing. I sometimes feel super proud I dont care about the society's sentiments and rules, but when I heard the "so what" from my daughter, it felt strange. Worse, it made me question my own values. Was I maintaining double standards? Hell, the simple words made me really think. And that's when I started feeling sorry for my mom who always maintained her calm and dignity when I rebelled and yet was stern. It must have been tough raising me. Having to keep with all the nonsense I did in the name of individuality! :)

      Individuality is good, amazing when you embrace it, when you defy the conventions, not so much when you have to encourage and sail through others'. It's scary, seriously! :)

      I can do countless hours of research and write. But this parenting business is tough. I see you're thinking that it's just started. Well, I cant wait to see my DD grow into a responsible, cheerful, thinking, mature adult. I hope to take parenting classes so I graduate with straight As in life. But even if I falter, stumble, break down or succeed, I know the experience filled with love is going to make me evolve into a better person.

    • I lol'd reading that. Yes, individuality is easiest to support when it doesn't offend/conflict with your own beliefs and habits.

      And even without parents inserting their own judgement, a kid's convictions runs through a gauntlet of other dimensions--few of which will be in our control. I find that just because my kid displays a particularly unique choice once doesn't mean that it survives the tests of peer influence, and his own introspection. The "so what, let them laugh" mentality is IMO, awesome to see. But I keep watching, because the tenacity to hold onto that conviction through self-doubt and true hardship...Things change constantly. I try not to discourage it or get in the way. He needs to get used to coming to his own conclusions, testing them, and trusting or changing them. Matters of fashion are trivial fodder to start with. My oldest--he's the only 8YO I know who loves to wear popped collars, bright colors, and in particular a salmon pink jacket. It puts a smile on my face. But I am not sure I'm entirely Voltairian about it. Wait'll they start making choices that *matter*. You're can be downright scary.

      I openly put the kabosh on some acts of individuality in my family. For example, when it comes to dinner--food-- the house policy is that nobody cares whether you like something or dislike it; if it is on your plate for your first serving, you eat it. You don't have to enjoy it...but you will eat it. Rebelling against that is wasteful, and disrespectful of the good fortune we have in being able to provide 3-square meals a day.

      I was in my mid twenties when I began to realize the patience and resilience mixed in with my mother's brand of mothering. There were certainly limits to her willingness to accept my individuality. She wouldn't, for example, approve of me joining ROTC. I don't necessarily agree with all her beliefs. But overall, I recognize that they came from her heart, and I'm quite thankful. I think of it often now that I'm in the parenting shoes myself.

      We actually celebrate our kids' birthdays when it's convenient. Our one kid gets his celebrated in the Spring, just because when his real birthday comes around, it's stuffed between so many other family birthdays, it's kind of crowded on the calendar, lol.

    • That example of a double standard really hit home. I think I do invoke peer pressure sometimes when it’s convenient (to curb nose picking or encourage changing into clothes that fit properly, etc.) but I often dismiss peer pressure as a non-issue when it doesn’t fit into my agenda. “Let them laugh! Who cares what they think about you playing with your little sister?”

      As a homeschooling parent I wrestle with this a lot. Sometimes I long for peer pressure to normalize some behaviors I see in my kids that I think wouldn’t last 5 minutes in a school setting but hang on at home because nobody is shaming them out of it. (Again with the nose picking...😝) Other times I relish the fact that my kids feel confident enough in themselves to be authentic and pursue their own interests without following any trends.

      I appreciate the perspective driveshaft shared as an adult who recognizes the love and sincere beliefs that were behind his own mother’s parenting choices. I hope that something similar will always be true of my own parenting, and while I’m hoping... wouldn’t it be great if my kids recognized that while they were still kids?

    • Wow. Homeschooling my kids is my dream. Sometime in the future i wish to start a school and devise my own curriculum. My only concern is the supposed lack of social interaction, which is a preconceived opinion I may have inherited subconsciously.

      The wonderful and challenging part about parenting as i have come to realize in the last 3 years is, my kids have taught me more about myself, especially the negative side, than anyone ever has so much so it sometimes gets creepy.

    • I would have loved harder. Let more slide and let them get closer to the edge of the cliff before pulling them back. I would have done more with my ears than my voice. Kids raising kids while raising yourself. Teach them to look forward with love.