Early Parenting Influences-Who Were Your Role Models?

During a recent meditation my mind brought forward how different my parenting was from my own parents. In those moments of contemplation I wondered how that came about and who my early influences had been that pushed this shift. Later, I realized that it ultimately meant transitioning from hanging onto ‘their’ beliefs to acquiring beliefs of my own.


Early Experience

In my early experience, as a neighborhood babysitter, I did not give much thought about the early development process. I was twelve and by the age of sixteen did routinely what I saw my relatives do: direct, (or in my childish mind, ‘order’), my younger siblings and kids I sat for. As for the babies-well, if they were quietly playing by themselves or sleeping, I didn’t disturb them, opting instead to read a book.

At age sixteen I had three part time jobs: one with the city as a library page; another with the school system teaching ballet; and babysitting. It was through my girl friend that I accepted a coveted position with an unknown family; a college professor, his wife and their six month old daughter, as a mother’s helper.

Up until then I had never heard of a ‘mother’s helper’ or gave any thought about how that differed from being a babysitter, but meeting Myra, a young, outspoken, Jewish woman was a moment of God’s grace that would forever change the world of this unsophisticated, Catholic teenager in many ways.


Teen Employment

Myra blew my mind. She talked to me like I was an adult; like my opinion mattered…like I even had an opinion. She washed off the lids of canned goods before opening them, explaining to me that there was often dust on them. I thought that was quirky. Who does that-certainly, no one in my household? But, most of all she talked to her baby differently…like this six month old knew what she was saying! In my smug adolescence I was amused-by that and her insistence that I read...READ, (not look at), picture books to a baby as if she understood words.

As she went about her Myra-ness she taught me, explaining why she did what she did and role modeling a type of parenting that I had never observed before-one of direct interaction; of accepting an infant at the moment of its birth, as an intelligent being that absorbed everything in its environment. Myra blew my consciousness wide open.

No longer content to go back to the place I had been jolted from I began to look at my world with a different eye, observing, contrasting, comparing. I questioned what I previously had accepted as truth in the way things were, because clearly, life was very different in other homes.


Montessori Pre-School Experience

After two years of working for Myra a second shift occurred. It was the early 70’s, I was a senior in high school, and our family was going through changes that began when both my parents returned to school. While at the community college my parents met the campus priest, who had started services called the Newman Mass. They embraced Father Tom, often inviting him to dinner. Long discussions about the world, politics, education, etc. occurred around our dinner table.

One week, Father Tom announced that the Montessori Preschool, which was part of the Detroit congregation he was assigned to, needed volunteers to help the nuns with their field trip to the Detroit Zoo. I volunteered not realizing this was going to be another pivotal moment in my life.

I had no idea what a Montessori school was or how it differed from other preschools, and the explanations that it was a ‘method’ confused me even more. Weren’t all preschools the same? Kids enrolled, they played, and they went home. End of story.

As I walked into the inner city preschool I was greeted by the director of the program, Sister Agnes. She graciously gave me a tour of the school, explaining the work stations and offering a synopsis of the Montessori philosophy. I was intrigued.

Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori was a medical physician and psychiatrist who worked at the University of Rome psychiatric clinic, observing that the children she treated had a desire to learn activities.  Later she became an educator.  She is well known for her contributions to education and developed the process of learning that is known as the Montessori Method .  In her observations she discovered that learning began at birth and new information was absorbed predominately through age six.  After this age, the natural process of absorbing and integrating material slowed.  All situations, good, bad, pleasant and traumatic, are soaked up in direct learning experiences. 

The most valuable learning time is age 0-6

Focus is strong when learning from a natural place of interest.
Focus is strong when learning from a natural place of interest. | Source
Socialization is a byproduct of the natural learning process.
Socialization is a byproduct of the natural learning process. | Source

Unlimited Human Potential

I was enthralled-intelligence occurred before the age of five…before formal education? I had never thought of it. I always believed that if you were lucky enough to have siblings older than you, there might be some early learning that preempted starting kindergarten; otherwise, you learned when you got to school.

To have an intentional and purposeful teaching environment through interactions with toddlers who explored their world was a different concept. I read everything I could that pertained to Maria Montessori’s methods and decided I wanted to become a Montessori teacher. I wanted to be instrumental in giving preschoolers opportunities to master their environments and unleash the human potential of their souls.

Get to Know Your Parenting Style

Although my life took a different career path, the early influences I had from both Myra and Maria Montessori shaped my parenting in a direction quite different from one I grew up with.  When my mother and father became parents they were products of their culture, their formal education, and their home life.  My willingness to keep an open mind about more effective parenting styles than what I was raised with was an important factor in my evolvement as a future parent.

Today, I am the proud mother of two wonderful daughters who have found their own paths of effective parenting, influenced at some level by what their experience was growing up.  I know that the role model I set for them was part of what they have incorporated.

 

Have you considered your own early childhood experiences and the type of parents you had?  Are you a parent that did things differently than your parents?  Who were your early influences?

If you have ever thought about how you became the person you are today or wondered how your kids became the way they are, explore these questions and see where the answers may lead you.    

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Comments 21 comments

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 5 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Denise, I learned new things today by reading your hub. I don't have children, but I used to be interested in child psychology and education, and this was my areas of study in college, but my path took a different turn.

My upbringing was not the best, but there was love, and nowadays I have an understanding Mom did the best with what she had culture wise and with her own upbringing.

Your article is very educational, hope young parents read it, as it will open their eyes. You are blessed to have not only attracted two wise teachers in your youth, but that you were conscious enough to be receptive.

Voted up!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Marie-thanks so much for your words. They touched my heart. BTW-one of the words that came up 'meditation' had a piece of work that was yours. I clicked that one. It was the hub about the inspirational cards. Thanks for your rating. :)


richtwf profile image

richtwf 5 years ago

An excellent hub Denise and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject. There are so many interesting talking points you raised here!

Firstly Myra clearly opened your eyes to a different approach to parenting rather than the more common - Command and do I as order approach.

From the moment we are conceived we start receiving stimuli (yes even in the womb) so it's paramount to start giving babies the stimulating environment that they need in order to flourish. I absolutely agree that the first five years are the most important in terms of learning potential. To waste that opportunity to be the child's first teacher is a crime and education doesn't start at age five years, it starts in earnest as soon as they're born.

I think that we can learn to parent from our own experiences of being parented. Our parents can serve as both role-models and anti-role models and others likewise. Ultimately it's our responsibility to choose the best ways to parent, leaving out the worst ways and blending the best practices to create our own individual parenting style.

There is one great book with regards to child development which I would recommend any parent to borrow from a library or purchase and that is 'Brain Child' by Tony Buzan - It's well worth a read if any parent is seriously interested in giving their child the best early years.

Last comment!

Montessori education is something which I greatly admire. I love the holistic approach to education from a very young age. I am sure you know already but just in case you didn't ... Google's founders - Larry Page and Sergey Brin were Montessori schooled. They credit their success to their pre-school Montessori days and look at them now! Their different approach to learning and seeing the world is what all young children should have.

A great hub Denise and really enjoyed sharing some thoughts with you.

Cheers and God bless and have a great week!


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 5 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Hey, I just clicked on "meditation" and it leads to my hub, didn't notice this, cool! Thanks! :)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

"When my mother and father became parents they were products of their culture, their formal education, and their home life. My willingness to keep an open mind about more effective parenting styles than what I was raised with was an important factor in my evolvement as a future parent."

Good morning, Denise. I did the same to a certain extent. My parents intentionally raised us very differently from the ways in which they were raised. So it seems like a constant learning and readjustment process. We always question, learn, and meditate as part of that process.

Wonderful hub and a vote up!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

I have been in a very similar position to you. I have had a couple of women in particular that have been I've looked up to like mentors that have changed the course of my life. I thought your hub was extremely well written and I enjoyed it immensely. Voted/rated up.


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 5 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

Excellent Hub, congratulations on your 30 in 30!!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Rich, Although I did not become a teacher, it was my first choice as a career and I believe I am a teacher at heart, and have a natural talent for it. I know you are a teacher by profession and it is always a pleasure to read your views and share thoughts about the subject. Thanks for your comments.BTW-I'm not sure if you are aware that my daughter, Cara, (a teacher) is also a hubber here now? She writes under the name cardelean and her hub A Lesson for the Teacher has been nominated for the hubnugget award this week. So...be sure to check it out and vote, since, as her mom, LOL I am promoting her work.

Marie-I'm so glad you were delighted by the link. :)

Genna-thanks for reading and commenting. I imagine the mistakes I made as a parent will be transitioned as my own daughters use their parenting skills.

Pam-I would be happy to read your exper in a future hub from these women who influenced you. Thanks for your vote up and your comments.

Hi Lilly-I always enjoy seeing you. Thanks for the read and comments. I'll be sure to catch some of yours now that the 30/30 is finished.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

I had a PERFECT childhood! LOL . Thank the Lord for Myra!!! JK Ok, on a more serious note. This was an awesome hub. Very informative and things that I don't think that all parents think about.

Yes, my mother influence my parenting style, both the good and the bad although there really were more good! Working at the early childhood center at MSU also influenced me a great deal in my approach to young children, one teacher in particular, Trisha. That along with my experiences in my classroom have added to my parenting approach. Working in an urban school district has helped me to see what is NOT happening in many homes at an early age and what affect that has on children as learners.

BTW, thanks for the continuous promoting for me. And who are those adorable, completely engaged children in those pictures?????? They must have the BEST mom!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

LOL Oh, Daughter, you are soooo funny. Yes, truly, thank goodness for Myra. She was an angel that changed the course of generations in our family. I'm glad you liked the hub. Thanks for commenting. Your promotion is my pleasure. Love you honey. Hugs.


amybradley77 profile image

amybradley77 5 years ago

Many of us do learn by example, I was very lucky to have Grandparents in my life and that of my siblings. They were just more wise and knew more about raising children already then our parents did. I grew up with both my Mom & Dad's parents always present in my life half the time with one set, the other half with the other set of Grandparents. We were taught that it sometimes almost takes the whole village to raise the children, village meaning extended family members of course. Thanks for this great page. A.B.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Amy-yes, it is always helpful to have a extended family sharing a child's life. Thanks for commenting.


gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

Thought provoking hub! You brought up many great points. Sure, parents are their children's primary role models...however, other adults in the children's lives are definitely influential as well, good or bad.

Thank you for sharing!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

WOW - Denise, your did it - 30 hubs in 30 days! What an achievement. Remember - you and I are going for it in April. Loved this wonderful hub. Made me take a trip in time, going back to childhood and thinking about the very special adults who loved me and gave me kindness. I really am grateful to people like my Aunt Nellie, Gramma Fellows, my Aunt Maisie and Uncle Doc, my kindergarten teacher Miss Butterfield and many others. If not for your article, I may have forgotten about the enfluence of these nurturing folks. BTW - Your children are adorable!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Gypsumgirl-thank you for reading and commenting. Parenting is an awesome job and an overwhelming responsibility at times...to be a good one. But, the rewards are so great. Unfortunately, so many adults who have kids shouldn't be parents.

Audrey, I'm glad you read this with thoughts of positive people in your childhood. Growing up is not easy, is it? Sometimes it is by the Grace of God that we come out ahead, if not for the influence of other adults, we would not make it. I'm glad for you that those people were in your life.

Thanks for the comments on my kids. The photos in this hub are of my beautiful grandchildren. Their mom is my daughter Cara who is also a hubber here: cardelean. She recently won a hubnugget award for her hub: A lesson for the Teacher.

Yes, April is the designated hubchallenge date. I'll be sending out an invite 'come one, come all' in late March in the hubchallenge forum. Watch for it then. :) We'll have fun!


viryabo profile image

viryabo 5 years ago

If i had children, i'll want to have their educational foundation based on the Montessori type system because the system understands that a child is not just a child.

Their minds need to be nurtured and opened up, soaking up information and possibilities as they go along.

I was brought up the 'old school way' and we never even spoke unless spoken to.

My mother has a school (though she's retired now) with children starting from the age of 3, but the school is based on the Froebel system, which is also an early development of children's faculties and is (i think) the early beginning that led the kindergarten system.

Enjoyed and rated up.

GodBless

PS: Congrats on the completion of the 30 in 30 days Denise.

Like i said in the forum, i think i'll take part in the April challenge.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Viryabo-thanks for reading and commenting. Although I never did get to the Montessori training I utilized her concepts with my own children. I love that age group (0-5, 6 yrs old) because of the potential each child has. It also is a small window to expose this potential to all they can soak up during those pivotal years.

Thanks for you comments about the hub and hubchallenge. I'll post something at the end of March in the hubchallenge forum for the start of the April challenge. God Bless


mega1 profile image

mega1 5 years ago

I guess most of us absorb parenting skills without thinking about it too much. I remember in the 80s seeing that list of parenting tips on people's refrigs - the one that said if you treat a child with kindness they will be kind - etc. There is so much involved in parenting I was overwhelmed and I still am! This is a great hub on the subject! not too preachy, like some parenting advice!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Mega, I'm glad you found it helpful w/o being preachy, LOL LOve your comment. BTW I also had one of those guidelines posted on my refrigerator. I think the pediatrician's office was handing them out that year, LOL


OnePerspective profile image

OnePerspective 4 years ago from Idaho

Denise, thanks for the HUB, great piece. I like to think I learned a lot of what NOT to do from my parents and some wonderful jewels as well (here and there) I do things very differently than my parents did (while still appreciating the ways they did things back when I was a kid). Times have changed, I guess. When I think back on being by myself at 9 because mom or dad was working, it seems not a big deal. If I ever even considered for a minute that my kid could be alone at 9, I would laugh at myself. Times are changed. Great piece, thanks for sharing!!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hello OnePerspective, thanks for reading and commenting. I have to agree-times have really changed. It's a scary place now with so much happening in the world.

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