Why I Wrote an Illustrated Guide to Raising Children
First of all, I'm NOT a psychiatrist, psychologist, nor have I raised lots of children. However, being the youngest in the family, kids at the bottom of the totem pole usually spend most of their childhood watching family drama scenes play out on a daily basis. Whether it's watching the pressure that the oldest sibling goes through in order to be the upstanding, well-behaved, overachieving perfectionist that comes with being the first major experiment to a young unknowing couple OR seeing the daily struggles of a middle sibling that goes through life being or feeling constantly compared to the oldest child and does any and everything possible to be the opposite of the oldest.
New parents tend to put in the time, effort, and TLC into trying to create the perfect child to the point of failure not being an option, so when child "number two" comes along, parents try to leverage their previous efforts by telling "middle children" to "be more like your sister/brother."
But being the "baby" of the family, we youngest children are sometimes misunderstood to have been babied throughout our childhoods and to have had the things and opportunities that our older rivals never had. This probably comes from the fact that many families are more stable and have been through the wars and chaos before we were old enough to understand. Or maybe it's because we were born during or after the chaos and learned to accept things as they are. Some of us babies of the family were born while things were falling apart or during the rebuilding process. But I think it's fair to say that we are survivors. We learned by watching our older siblings go through the school of hard knocks, so we tend to feel for them and be sensitive to others.
Maybe you could say we were born to be family coaches since we never quite had the chance to be the quarterback, the pitcher, or the forward. Moreso, we were raised to be waterboys and spent much of our time witnessing what everyone else was going through while silently cheering for everyone to do well. That doesn't mean that we don't have the aptitude to be in the game. It means that we grew up with an innate ability to see and feel what everyone is going through without taking sides.
And then one day, something interesting happens. We're alone without our older siblings and have to start making life decisions without basing them on the actions of our siblings. We have to live life for ourselves. Maybe we went away to university and lost a little of that "being the baby" stigma. Maybe we got married and lost a little more of it. Then we get into our 30's and feel like we might just all be adults now. Sometimes during Christmas get-togethers when we're deciding who sleeps in which rooms, who will ride in the front seat, or who gets the last piece of cake, we're all right back in our usual sibling pecking order.
But something is a little different now. I have a child of my own! I'm no longer a bench-warmer on the sidelines. I'm no longer just the baby of the family. I actually have a baby. And all of the sudden, I'm the quarterback, pitcher, forward, and coach, ALL AT THE SAME TIME! I'm finally in the game and ready to shine. There's this little being that I'm responsible for in every aspect of life; at least until they're ready to be on their own.
SO WHAT DO I DO FOR MY CHILD?
- I try not be the overbearing first-time parent that instills the "can't let anyone down because everyone expects nothing less than the best out of you" mentality that many oldest children have.
- I don't compare my child to other children so he/she doesn't grow up feeling a sense of self-doubt that fuels a strong competitive nature because of always being compared, before they even get out of the starting gate.
- I set an example in any aspects that correlate with what I think are important values (i.e. treat people fairly, help those that can't help themselves, explore the world for new ideas, compromise when you see the importance in other people's ideas even if you don't agree, "stick to your guns" if you really believe you're doing the right thing)
- I expose my child to as many different things as I can without forcing anything upon her/him.
- I introduce my child to the world that awaits without throwing them in the deep end!
AND WHAT DO I DO FOR THE WORLD?
I created an easy-to-understand illustrated guide to parenting that hits what I think are important points in raising an independent and confident child. There are many parents that read dozens of 300-page books written by psychiatrists, psychologists, parenting experts, etc. AND I truly believe that parents that care and think enough about child-rearing to read these types of books are probably going to be just fine as parents, if not a little overbearing.
The purpose of my book is to provide quick guide for those that may not have the attention span, the time, the partner that wants to take the time, or just want to fill in gaps with what I think are vital child-rearing concepts. My hope is for everyone to be the type of parent they dream of. This illustrated book is so easy that even parents that aren't quite cut out for parenting can spend 10 to 15 minutes and learn a few things to apply to their own lives or at least be aware of. Kids only have a childhood once so help them make the best of it without ruining their future.
© 2020 Paul Ledford