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Raising children? Have to deal with someone else's? Considering a family?Let's talk kids!Claudia Quigg hosts this weekly reflection on best practices, experiences, and research related to child rearing and parenting. Thursdays at 12:50 PM and 7:50 PM

Let's Talk Kids: "Guinea Pigs, Hermit Crabs, and Tree Frogs"

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Randy Eccles
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Most expectant parents imagine they will be completely different parents than the ones who raised them.  And then somehow, in the months following the births of their babies, words come out of their own mouths that they remember hearing a generation ago.  Our past is inescapable, it seems, when it comes to raising our children.

This is great news for grandparents who feel somehow affirmed by the perpetuation of their methods and values.  But perhaps the most delicious aspect of all is watching our adult children deal with some of the same issues they presented to us as children.

A few years back, a story tickled funny bones throughout our family tree.  As she was growing up, one of our children felt the need to fill our home with as many animals as she could smuggle in.  Despite the fact that we had two dogs, she begged for additional pets—Guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, hermit crabs, even a delicate, hot-house African tree frog.

Her hysterical pleading included promises (I’ll clean the tank!), threats (I’ll run away if I can’t have a Guinea pig!), appeals to reason (But it’s free!), and emotional manipulation (If you loved me you’d let me keep it!).  

She did manage to win on occasion, and grew up with a menagerie of assorted critters.  Flash forward a few years, and the chickens came home to roost, so to speak.  This same daughter now has two dogs and four children, each one presenting her with her own parenting challenges every day.

One day, a daughter got off the school bus with GREAT news.  It seemed that a friend’s Guinea pig had babies, and for the ridiculously low price of only twenty-five dollars, she could have one!

When Mom informed her that two dogs were really quite enough for their family, this young lady stormed to her room and slammed her door.  But not before yelling at the top of her lungs, “IF YOU LOVED ME, YOU’D LET ME HAVE A GUINEA PIG!”

Ahhh.…sweet satisfaction.  My husband and I savored the moment as our daughter was forced to confess that she recognized the origins of this behavior.

Grandparents feel pleasure at seeing the continuation of family traditions large and small as we watch the sailboats of our own efforts move toward the horizon of the future.

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Claudia Quigg is the Executive Director of Baby TALK and writes the Let's Talk Kids parenting segment and column that honor the expertise parents have about their own children and explores issues that are universal for families. From toilet training and sibling rivalry to establishing family values, Claudia Quigg provides thoughtful and accessible insights that are meaningful to families' needs.
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