Last week in my daughter’s karate class, the instructor was talking to the kids about listening to mom and dad and doing what they say, which included going to bed when told. He joked, “Do you get out of bed several times to ask for water or snack?” and all kids yelled “NOOOOO!” He teased, “Do you get in your own bed or your parents’ bed?” The kids laughed and yelled “my own bed!” and most of the kids, as well as a couple instructors, laughed. One kid off to the side said “I go to my parent’s bed” but was not heard. I looked around the room. There are a lot of students from different countries and varying cultural backgrounds in the class. It made me think.
An article I read around that same time had a story in which a dad mentioned that he “gave in” ONE TIME and from then on he found himself lying in bed with his child every night at the son’s request for dad to “lay with me” before his child went to sleep. The father kind of laughed it off but described this as if he was doing something wrong… although he did not seem to mind.
These two things really made me review our values and differences that impact our parenting practices. While at our home we do value the separation of the parents’ bed and child’s bed as in the first story, we do not value a short goodnight ritual. In other words, the request to “lay with me” at bedtime would typically be answered with a “yes.” Bedtime really is a sort of family ritual that also changes as children age. For me and my family, bedtime is the time of day for the snuggles and cuddles, while for other families it is simply time to go straight to bed, having already had that closeness during the day.
We often think our way is the best way or the only way. It seems to be how we are hard-wired. We know the best diet for health, the best supplements, the correct medical advice, the best sleep advice, the best way for a man/woman to behave, the best way to speak, the best words to use, the best way to go about LIFE. This includes me. Next time I find myself seeing parents doing something differently, I will make a conscious effort to remind myself: “this is THEIR best way, even if it is not mine.” Perhaps I will even learn something new!