Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Are You a Normal Parent?

By Christina VanGinkel

I could not resist. I was online when an ad caught my attention inquiring if I were a normal parent. I just had to click the button. What followed was a brief survey, which tallied up all of my answers and ultimately gave me a score of 64 out of 100. It labeled me quirky, but alas, normal. I do not know though that a score of 64 is very good.

This got me to thinking though about what exactly is normal when it comes to parenting. A mother of three, and a grandmother to one, I have never given any serious thought, to whether my parenting style is normal. Heck, I am not even sure what normal would be. I am married, twenty-four years as of last week. We have two older children, and when our second child was well out of the baby stage, we decided to have one more child, so besides two adult children, we also have a thirteen year old at home. He has been in public school, in private school, and is now in public school once again. I like being a mom. As I am writing this, I realize that most of my comments to myself on whether I am a normal parent or not, revolve around my parenting style with my husband, so I would have to say here that I am a co-parent, much more than a parent alone, as most decisions about our kids are made mutually.

We spoil our kids, especially our youngest, and our grandson. Is that normal? Our son loves sports, so we have made sure that he has had access to a good football team, where he will get the expertise to not make him a superstar, but with any luck allow him to participate as injury free in a sport that injuries are almost second nature too. He loves to snowboard, so we run him through the winter months every chance he has, to spend his days on the hill. In the summer, we let him ride motocross. He is currently the owner of a KX100. Many other mothers of his friends ask me how I can stand him being in so many risky sports. I do not think they are risky as long as he is wearing safety gear and has the advantage of good instructors. Risky is letting your child run across the street without teaching them to look both ways, and then look again before they cross. Does that make me normal or not? We demand good grades, not that is what we want, but because we now that is what he is capable of. We go to the movies together. That is more of a mom, son thing, as dad takes the time we go to the movies and spends it glued to the television set watching any football game he can find!. They, my husband and son, hunt together, though I have been known to go along with my camera when they hunt black bear. Does that make us abnormal, or are we still in the normal category there?

We let our son choose his own clothes and hairstyles. He has had everything from a Mohawk to blue hair. His favorite hair cut is actually a buzz though, so I feel we won the hair battle by ignoring it when he was small and letting him have freedom with something that would never be permanent. His clothes seem to run a bit on the baggy side, but at thirteen years old, he is now five foot ten, two hundred pounds, a size thirteen shoe, and growing by the day. I may sometimes wish he would pick something a bit more fitted, but then I would have to replace his clothes that much more often, so I just ignore the loose jeans and baggy shirts and acknowledge that at least he is comfortable. I am outspoken with his teachers, and this may not make me the favorite parent with them, yet they know they can call me up about anything and I will listen. I have volunteered at his schools for everything from library help, reading buddy, to supervising the little kids at this years Christmas shop. Last year, one of my children stories was put on as a theatrical production by the first through fourth grade. I would say that make me active at his schools. Does that make me a normal parent?

I could go on, but I have to run to the store to buy groceries, so I can cook dinner, which we will all sit down together and eat at the same time. Nope, I do not think we are normal parents after all!

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