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Having been raised by Depression-era survivors, then breaking free to flourish in the ‘flower power’ of the 1970s, only to be cowed by AIDS in the ‘80s—it’s hard to put my finger on what my ‘parenting style’ might be.
After all, don’t we default back to our roots when the sheer enormity of our parenting responsibilities looms over our meager daily existence like a large star about to go supernova?
And we can’t help but watch what other parents do with their kids, can we? For a while there, when the children entered preschool, I started to feel like a ping pong ball trying to figure out who ‘did it’ best.
I’d be making dinner in the evening muttering under my breath that I was spoiling my little darlings by letting them ‘express’ themselves too freely, only to wake up in the morning fearing that the house rules were too Draconian.
Which end of the box was up? Children need boundaries! Children need freedom! Children should remain quiet and respectful! Children need to find their voices! Discipline! No, liberty!
You can just hear Freddie Mercury belting out Bohemian Rhapsody (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Bohemian_Rhapsody), can’t you? “No, no, no, no, no, no, NO! Oh Mama Mia, let me go!”
The truth about effective parenting—if a mother over 40 has anything to say about it—is a far more simple matter than a Greek operatic chorus working out conflict resolution across a star-filled stadium.
At 47, Jodi Boswell—a rowing instructor and massage therapist (jodirowing null@null gmail NULL.com) from Santa Cruz, CA, who gave birth a second time at 44—feels that parenting in later life is a far more laid-back experience.
“I was more particular and very opinionated about the way things should be with my first child in my 30s,” says Jodi, a mother of two.
“Now, I see there are many parenting styles that work—if you just love your children and listen to them, they turn out just fine!”
Boswell feels that while many young moms “look at parenting with a freshness and willingness to change things up a bit,” they also end up spending their energy “where it doesn’t really matter to the soul of the child.”
With her children Nelleke, now 12, and Noah, 3-years-old, she says many older mothers have “more clarity and parent with more ease.”
“When I was younger, I would analyze all my options before making a decision, not being able to weed out all the stuff that didn’t matter. Now it is simply by instinct.”
She recalls a recent experience of choosing a preschool for her son, Noah, where the decision was easy because she just went with what “felt right.”
Jodi Boswell emphasizes that she doesn’t see older parenting as better necessarily, but as much different.
“I think what makes a good parent has more to do with the ability to listen to your instincts,” she says.
“We end up getting distracted listening to everyone’s advice when we are younger and more impressionable.”
According to Boswell, “parenting instinctively comes much easier being older and having had many life experiences.”
San Francisco Bay Area child psychologist Dr. Beth Halbert believes that—not only can over-40 mothers potentially become better parents—but it is, in fact, wiser for women to wait to have children.
As “America’s Teenologist,” Halbert says “I feel women should wait longer to have children because it makes for a lot less angry and insecure teenagers in the long run.”
“It gives time for the ‘inner teen’ of the mom to mature which reduces their reactivity and defiance when their child finds their own voice,” she continues.
Dr. Beth also believes that older moms will have more patience to listen and tend to the needs of the child, rather than competing to have their own needs met.
Furthermore, they can also offer other significant benefits, including emotional stability, maturity and financial security.
“Even though these kids may be ready to go to college at about the same time mom is thinking of retirement,” says Dr. Halbert, “in many cases, early success and hard work early in business makes it easier to handle the financial obligation.”
Jodi Boswell seems to have transcended even these apparent bonuses to later life motherhood, instead adopting an almost Zen-like perspective: “Now I see that loving them is what matters most. It all seems pretty simple now.”
Notes for this blog:
Jodi Boswell is a rowing instructor and massage therapist in Santa Cruz, CA. Her business email: firstname.lastname@example.org (jodirowing null@null gmail NULL.com).
To contact Bay Area child psychologist, Dr. Beth Halbert. Email: email@example.com (drbeth null@null drbeth NULL.com); Website: www.drbeth.com (http://www NULL.drbeth NULL.com/)
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