I’ve always had a life plan for as long as I can remember. I remember that I was around 5 when I figured out what I wanted to major in in college, and around 10 was when I figured out which high school and college I wanted to go to. My elementary school yearbook lists my high school alma mater, my current college, and current major as “future goals.” So to this day, I know that so far I have lived up to my own expectations for myself.
Thinking a little more long term, I guess I’ve always thought that I would graduate sometime in my early 20s, and maybe start a family sometime in my mid to late 20s – because that’s what I think people generally aim for. I knew that I would want to discipline my future children well. I would want to be the strict type of parent, so that when I let them spread their wings at 18, I would know that I raised them to be grounded individuals, who could live safe and responsible lives on their own. Through all this, however, I never thought about how I would accomplish this task. I never thought about it until I was sitting in my 1:30 PM psychology (more specifically, human development) class the other day learning about parenting styles and how it affects children’s development.
Our course textbook gave us a hypothetical scenario of a child who had done something bad and needed to be disciplined. It then gave us four choices as to what we would do to respond to the child’s behavior. Based on my choice, the book labeled me as an “authoritarian parent.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with Baumrind’s four parenting styles, you can skim this site to learn a little bit more about them.
To be honest, I was a bit shocked. The description in the textbook made the authoritarian type of parent sound terrible – mean, oppressive, and completely devoid of feeling. That isn’t me! Yes, I want to be firm and strict with my future children, but I certainly don’t want to be oppressive.
Sitting in my afternoon psychology class, learning about these parenting styles, I realized that I am so glad that it’ll be years before I’m anywhere near being a parent. Obviously, based on my answer to the scenario and my apparent shock at the results, there’s a disconnect between the parent I want to be and the parent I might become.
I still have so much to do with my life before I’m ready for that phase. I still have to finish college, earn my degree, hold down a stable job, pay off my loans, and be financially stable. That’s a long list of to-dos that’s going to take a bit of time to get squared away; but maybe that time will allow me to gain the wisdom and learn the life lessons that I need to learn before I’m ready to introduce new life into this world.
I’m majoring in a health profession, but every year since I’ve started college, I’ve taken a psychology course – every year with the same professor. I had him for a required introduction to psychology course in freshman year, and he was such a great teacher that every year since, even though we were no longer required to take psychology, I’ve chosen one of his classes as the one elective course that we’re allowed. After years of taking his classes, something finally clicked inside this thick head of mine. Sometimes professors have a more profound effect than they know.