Anna was asking me how Nadia is different from her at the same age. I replied that she is different because all human beings are different. But I am finding it hard to pinpoint, what are the exact differences.
Our parenting styles are different. When Anna was two, her life was undoubtfully more structured than Nadia’s. There was no question about what clothes to put on, whether to have dinner or not, and what will be served. There was no throwing away food. There were no reading books on the potty. Part of it was survival, me being a single working mom of three in an unstable economy. But part of it was a starting point.
I was an incredibly liberal parent by Russian standards those days. I didn’t spend all day disciplining a child. I would let them do tons of things other parents won’t. But by the nowadays civilized standards, it was still very rigorous parenting.
Once again, a lot can be attributed to a lack of resources. There was no option of going out for dinner or of ordering food. There was not that much variety of food, although by 1993 it was much better than in winter 1991/92. There were no disposable diapers and no diaper service. But also there was a definite lack of knowledge about alternative ways of parenting. Now I am thinking about what my parenting style would be if I would have children in the environment similar to what Anna has now. Anna and I have very similar ideas about routines, about reading and doing art, about exposing a child to the world experiences.
That was the first time I was watching Nadia as a toddler, and I was wondering whether I’ve retained my babysitting skills. Also – whether I will find myself uncomfortable to follow the rules to which I might not agree to the full extent. But it felt natural, so I guess the environment indeed played its role. For example, when we were returning from the park, at one street crossing, Nadia suddenly decided she does not want to hold my hand. I told her: let’s wait and then sat down on the grass. When I was a young mother, I would never do this with my children. Not only because we were on schedule most of the time, but also – how can you allow your young child to stop you?!
I find it the most interesting that after all Nadia and Anna at her age are not that much different. Anna was pretty happy, curious, resourceful, loving to learn new things – same as Nadia. Recently, during another parenting discussion, I’ve cited one of my most favorite quotes: No parenting can prevent a child from growing into a happy adult. I guess it’s true!