Parenting: Discovering How Your Kids See You

As someone who writes personal essays and blogs, I frequently use my family for material. I’ve written about my husband’s obsession with gadgetry, my son’s first exposure to sex ed and my daughter’s penchant for cross-dressing.

So I guess it was inevitable that sooner or later, the tables would be turned and I’d be the subject of something they wrote. Needless to say, this experience caught me off guard.

At the school my children attend in London, the head teacher solicits “half-term” projects from kids who want to do extra work. The kids write a report, she reads it and they get a certificate at assembly. It’s all good.

Each of my kids has jumped onboard enthusiastically with these assignments. My 8-year-old son has covered topics ranging from Tamerlane (his favorite Khan, as in Ghengis) … Team U.S.A. at the 2008 Olympics … and some of the more obscure “Star Wars” characters. (Plo Koon, anyone?)

My 5-year-old daughter’s reports have been a bit simpler: a reworking of the Cinderella narrative or a series of drawings with self-explanatory captions like “Pirate Louis Is a Pirate.”

Until now. A few days ago, my daughter declared that she’d like to do her half-term project on — wait for it — me. She asked me to download a few photographs from Picasa and then began to work in earnest.

Read the rest of this story at the New York Times Motherlode blog

Image: Writing Lesson by radioflyer007 via flickr under a Creative Commons License.

  • Reply Kim

    April 21, 2010, 10:52 am

    Hi Delia,

    I thought your article was really interesting and the comments people left too. I spend a lot of time being confused about what will happen when I have children. How will I feel happy and successful as an individual whilst still giving my children all the benefits of a stay at home mum that I had myself. Is it even worth bothering forging a career for myself now when I’ll have to give it up at some point for children?

    I think it’s really tough for women, mostly because there aren’t enough role models around. My Mum stayed at home and has never had a career, which was ultimately beneficial for me and my siblings. I don’t see her as a role model though, mostly as I’m not convinced that staying at home was the best thing for her, she sacrificed alot for us. Without family role models, in some sense I therefore feel like I’m going it alone, into uncharted waters.

    The comment that spoke to me most, was the one that said you have to have a strong sense of your *own* identity. which is so true, but far from easy to achieve without good role models to follow/blind confidence in yourself!

    Sounds like you’re probably getting the balance right though, if your daughter sees you as always there for her and yet you maintain a career independent of your family.

  • Reply delialloyd

    April 21, 2010, 11:52 am

    Thanks so much, Kim. What a lovely way to phrase it. It’s very hard to sort out who you are before you have kids (not to mention after!) but to me, that is what adulthood is all about. Welcome!

  • Reply Daryl Boylan

    April 23, 2010, 10:40 pm

    A stellar example of the great privilege of having a choice between full-time work & full-time parenting. (Heaven also smiles (& especially brightly) on those parents able to choose part-time work.

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