I was thirteen in 1970 so all of my teenage years were in the seventies, which was an interesting time in our country, especially for girls. I guess it really started much earlier but since we lived in the mid-west and my parents were very old fashioned and conservative we were always about a century behind in our thinking. I was being raised to be a mother and a wife and not one person that I recall talked to me about going to college as an option. I do, however, remember my dad talking to my older brother about college and its importance for him. At the time I did not think anything about it but when the time came to graduate I was unprepared and watched many of my girlfriends go off to school.
At the same time in my life I was dealing with another issue which seemed to me to be a contradiction of beliefs on the part of my mom. Mom and dad had been grooming me for marriage and children as long as I could remember and when I was eighteen I had a guy in my life that I was completely and utterly in love with. We had been dating for two years and we were what I would classify as “soul mates”. He was the guy for me in every way. He was a year older than me and at that time he was unsure of what he would do with his future. He had wealthy parents but had a problem with a step-dad and did not have the real support from home to go to college so he was thinking of the military.
My own mother who had married at eighteen found herself opposing the thought of marriage on our part at every junction. And it was not that she did not like my choice in men, she loved him and he loved her. My brothers even liked him. I do not know about dad as he traveled and was away from home so much he did not really have an opinion. Then on my eighteenth birthday dad moved out, I guess he was staying for my sake, I do not really know. Mom was devastated and I believe she did not want to see me in the same position so out of fear she opposed us marrying.
I understand now that I am an adult and have children of my own how circumstances can dictate your feelings towards your children and their relationships. I believe now that everything worked out as it should have, as God had planned for my life but at the time I was heart broken. I still believe that we would have had a wonderful life together but that was not to be. Mom talked him into getting a place of his own and when it became too hard on him he went off to the military and life went on. With mom so heart broken over dad it was hard to think of anything else but heartbreak, so I resolved to let my love go and try and get a life going of my own.
As I look back on growing up and now with my own children I try to do my best to not let my experiences, good or bad, to dictate their lives. But really, as a parent, that is not easy. No one wants to see their children suffer the way they did. But I believe, probably because of my experience, that you need to look at the individual situations and the individuals involved before passing judgments based on your experiences. I was not my mother; I was not going in blindly to a relationship as she had done. She was in love with my father at seventeen but the majority of the time they were together he was in the army and they were writing and married when he got out. It was the fifties and they did not even really know each other.
On top of that I did not have plans, nor had anyone mentioned the idea of me going off to college. I was being groomed as a wife and mother, I had known him for two years and we were so compatible. Sometimes you need to take in all the facts and not just react from your experiences. I know that today, in the day and age we live in, this may not pertain to many of you and your children. Most children today are groomed for college or resigned that they will follow a career path. No one today really wants to see a child marry right out of high school or marry the wrong person.
I believe you really need to step back and consider all the alternatives before making a decision which way to advise your child in a situation like this. What kind of relationship do they have, what bent is your child, will they better their lives without this person or will they cause their selves more harm by being a single person with no direction? Just because your life did not turn out the way you would have liked does not mean that your child is just like you and the situation is identical. Do not make your decision based on your past hurts but on what is best for the child.
This can be said about any situation with your child other than just an early marriage. Do you force them to go to college when they do not want to? Maybe you went and it was the greatest time of your life or maybe you did not and you regretted it. Take a good look at the child and respond to what their individual likes and dislikes are. I know from experience there are children out there that have no desires and need to be pushed to do something. I have one of those. We are, at this very moment, trying college classes at the community college because this child does not have a clue.
Then I have the completely opposite situation with my other child, this child loves school, has an Associates Degree, Bachelors Degree, and is working on a Masters Degree. This child works, does school, helps with everything in regards to family, finances, relationships, etc. This child is seven years older than my other child and is just now in a dating relationship that has been going on for over a year. This adult/child of mine is very level headed, extremely disciplined, loving, and working towards their goals.
Both children raised in the same home with totally different ideas about life and what they want. I have one ultra responsible child and one ultra dependent, one giving and one taking. How can this be? They were raised in the same home with the same people, with the same values. I have come to the conclusion that not all children can be raised the same. What privilege you give one child does not necessarily have to be given to the next. The way you motivate one will not always work with the other. It is very important to know each child so well that you know when to say no and when to say yes. What kinds of programs to get them into, what kind of discipline to give each one, and how you interact with each one should not be the same in all cases.
We sometimes forget that children are also individuals, even though they fall under our rule and authority and they came out of our gene pool, it does not mean that they are like us. Sometimes they have a combination of traits of both parents, sometimes they are a lot like one parent, but sometimes I think they may be given genes from a couple generations back. You need to really know your children and what their capabilities are before you put certain expectations on their lives.
Do not get me wrong; we do need to give our children a little nudge (or a great big push as in the case of one of my children) from time to time because we all have needed motivation from time to time. Some children, like my other child, need to be pulled in by the reins from time to time as well. This child of mine was pushing themselves so hard that they began to pull out their hair subconsciously over time and had a bald spot. I was cheering them on, not knowing this was actually putting more pressure on them. I had no idea that encouraging a child could be pushing them. Watch out for signs of over-achieving in your children as well. Either case is a no win situation for your child and for you.
In this stage of the game for me I am only able to support and encourage where my children are in their lives. For those of you who have much younger children I encourage you to get to know them in their heart of hearts and help them to discover the path they will have the most success in following. When you get to adulthood and still do not have a clue of what the future holds it can be hard on everyone. Do your best as parents not to put things on your children from your past but encourage them to follow the best path for their individual needs.
Blogging was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com.