How My Childhood Informs My Parenting Choices

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by Daniella Rabbani, Honest motherhood contributor

I have excellent parents. They’re intensely creative, always generous and devotional people. They made clear, intentional choices on how to raise good kids (education and community are of supreme importance to them). I have learned so much and still learn from my passionate loving parents.  

And while I’m endlessly grateful for the life they afforded me (ENDLESSLY), there are things about my childhood that sat right in the pocket of my parents’ blindspot (that place where we just can’t see) and because of that, I’m choosing to not repeat some of their patterns in my parenting. 

Lemme break it down:

1. I was raised in a close-knit Jewish community which meant that friends felt a lot like family. It also meant that I didn’t have any friends from other races, ethnicities or belief systems until I went to NYU at age 17. I think there’s a lot of good in this, but this is one big way I’m veering from the path my parents set out for me.

I want, so badly, for my children to know and have fluid dialogue with people of all walks of life. I believe this is the beauty of living in America and certainly in New York City. I hope to root myself firmly in our heritage (one of Ness’ favorite rituals is lighting Sabbath candles and doing the Friday night blessings. He loves Hebrew and wearing his yarmulke. He’s already so invested in his Judaism.) + share it with our friends who have different cultures. I try to host Shabbat dinners when I can and I hope to continue that. 

2. My mom has so much love and energy!! Sometimes so much that, looking back, she did a lot FOR me. She still does, let’s be real. But when I complain about doing simple tasks like the dishes (see my 2019 Mama Goals post here), I believe it stems from well... being spoiled by my mommy.

I try, every day, to allow and encourage Ness’ autonomy. It’s hard, as a mom, to let go the feeling of being needed. So I’ve been practicing, since his infancy, advocating for Ness’ independence.

At first, it was about sleep and play. Then eating (we tried a modified version of baby-led weaning) and now it’s all about letting him do what he can do at 22 months: put away his jacket and shoes upon arrival home, clean up after himself when he spills and when he’s done with his meal, and generally consider “can you do that by yourself Ness?”. All of this, instead of knee-jerk catering to his every request. I see the confidence it builds in him and what it demands of me. I’m invested in this approach for the long haul. Babies and children are capable of a lot more than we assume. 

3. I wish my parents had taken more time and attention for themselves and each other.

They were so invested in parenthood and community that I think their relationship to themselves and their love took a hit. And I felt it. I have experiential knowledge of the fact that mommy and daddy need to fill their emotional wells up first in order to share with their babies.

Date nights are key in our household. We show peace and respect between all parties. We started doing circle time in the mornings where we go around the circle, express gratitude and share what we’re looking forward to in our day. It’s so special for our kid to know what we’re up to, what lights us up outside of him, and vice versa. 

Looking back, what’s something you’re changing based on how you were raised? Or bringing into your own family dynamic?

Daniella Rabbani is a Brooklyn based actress and the honest motherhood contributor to the MU community. Her full time gig is mama to Ness.