Monday, 17 June 2013

What type of parent are you?....oh, yes and crepes

My blog this time is about parenting. It is a big topic, both an ambitious and ambiguous one to write about in a short space but it has been in my head for months so feel compelled to write it. I want to make note that the views expressed in this blog are my own and like the many parenting books out there, you may or may not agree with my theories. These are also overall generalisations based on my observations.

I have been a parent for 12+ years now. Over the years, I've been around many parents and children and observed various parenting styles in both friends and strangers. Everyone seems to have their own advice, opinions, and suggestions as to how to parent. Since we moved to Australia, I've concocted and classified the different parenting styles that I observe. I don't know if it's due to my age or being a parent for a while or living somewhere different.

When I lived in the US and my children were young, the talk was always about "helicopter parenting" which in a nutshell describes over protective, controlling, domineering parents who give their children little chance to be independent and make their own decisions. We parents all have a little of this in us and I know I was probably the Apache helicopter of this style when my first born was young.

While living in Australia, I have devised three types of parenting styles from what I observe around me - the Player, the Do-er, and the Slacker. These terms are irrespective of whether both parents work or one parent is home with their child(ren). A "Player" is often used to describe a Casanova, a man who gets around romantically and a "Slacker" is often described as a just plain lazy person. However, my labels here do have positive aspects, ones that I aspire to. The Player is the type of parent who enjoys their kids, interactively plays with them and is very open to help/play/assist their child. I think 'enjoy' is the key word as all parents love their children but the Player appears to be more patient, not bothered, and genuinely happy being with their kid(s). The Player is also content to let their kids be kids. The Do-er is type of parent who busies themself with keeping their child well taken care of, on schedule, and on track. The Do-er encourages their child to keep busy and play independently in the background while they run the house, organise classes/sports/playtimes, and basically set up an environment for their child to (hopefully) thrive. The Do-er is less interactive, less flexible and less patient with their children and most similar to the Helicopter but not as overbearing nor protective. The Slacker is the parent who loves their child but is not as involved with their life. They are either too busy with themselves, their career or have had several children and get more relaxed with each one.The Slacker gives their child a lot of independence, decision making ability, and freedom. I think we all have a bit of each parenting type in us. However, one parenting style does prevail. I know I'm a Do-er, always juggling each child's life, our family as a whole, my small business and the many outside sporting and social activities we all do. I wish I had more Player and Slacker aspects to my parenting but regardless of kids, I have always been a Do-er who is do, do doing and keeping busy.

The predominant parenting style I have observed on the northern beaches of Sydney is the Player. At the stores, the beach, school, and sports' matches parents seem more relaxed, patient, and appear genuinely happy hanging out with their children. They let their kids be kids and don't seem to be as angry or stressed when their children act up or act like children at that developmental age do. Don't get me wrong, manners as well as respect for parents/teachers is expected and shown. I think some of my friends here would disagree with me and say I had on rose coloured glasses. But moving here from Silicon Valley, California, where there are many well educated, over worked, and over achieving parents, I see more parent-child involvement down under instead of the burden and stress of taking care of a child.

So, I 've been pondering, what is different here that makes parents more relaxed? Could it be that Australia was just voted the happiest developed nation in the OECD Index for the third year in a row, beating out Sweden and Norway? Could it be the variety of payments and benefits that parents and children may be eligible for from the Australian government - Baby Bonus, Child Care Rebate, Family Tax Benefits, Paid Parental Leave, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance? Is it the Australian philosophy of working to live and enjoying life instead of the US philosophy of living to work?  Perhaps the sunny weather, beautiful scenery, many beaches and other outdoor activities where I live that keep people smiling and less stressed? Hmmmm...lots of factors to consider. At the end of the day, I believe the prevailing factor is the strength of the family unit. Australia has a small population of 23 million in a country larger than the US, yet there are only 8 major cities. A large percentage of the population live in and around these 8 cities so many people grow up and end up staying in and around their home city. A lot of children live at home if they study at University and some live at home until they get married. Not only is their nuclear family close, usually the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and many of the extended family live nearby. With my friends, that sometimes means Grandma babysits, Auntie Ali goes to watch the soccer games, cousins see each other more regularly and holiday celebrations can be large. Perhaps all these Players know they are going to be together and spend many years together so why not enjoy it?

As I type this blog, it is Father's Day in the US. I almost forgot as it's not Father's Day down under until September. Growing up, my Do-er Dad made wonderful Sunday breakfasts. One of his specialties is Crepes. I can imagine him standing over the stove in his blue robe and leather slippers, making us crepes and eating them with real maple syrup -yum. What a treat!

Crepes can be tricky as there are only a few ingredients so they're quick and easy to mix up. However, it is all in the technique -  making sure the pan is heated up slowly, having enough butter in pan, and being patient enough to stand at the stove cooking the whole time while making them. You must be patient with crepes.


2 Cups Milk 
2 Eggs
1 Cup Plain Flour
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

1) Put small or large skillet on stove burner or low heat. 
It is very important to warm up the skillet slowly and steadily. 
You can use a non-stick skillet but I think the crepes taste best in a regular skillet with butter.

2) Place all ingredients and put in the blender. Blend well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and blend again, until smooth.

I find a blender very easy for mixing and also pouring the crepe batter into the pan. If you don't have a blender, use an electric mixer or electric hand beater. I would not recommend making this recipe manually.

3) When your pan is ready, the butter will be bubbling and still be dark yellow. 
If the pan is too hot, the butter will burn and steam. If it is too cold, the butter will be melted but not bubbling. Wait for the bubbles!

4) Pour batter into the skillet. Pick up the skillet and gently rotate/swirl the pan so the batter completely covers the bottom. As it cooks, it will become less liquidy and bubbles will form, about <2 mins.
5) Use a spatula to flip the crepe over to other side. If you haven't made crepes before, this can be tricky the first few times. Keep trying! It is a matter of the pan having enough butter in it and getting under the middle of the crepe to flip it.

6) Let crepe continue to cook on other side a little while longer until both sides are cooked and golden brown.

6) Slip the crepe onto a plate and spread filling - maple syrup, jam, Nutella, fresh fruit, yogurt and/or powdered/icing sugar and a bit of lemon juice - Enjoy!

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