Monday, November 24, 2008

Parenting

I loved being a Mom. From the time I saw my son(s) forward, I thought every stage was better than the last. Okay, there were some teen years I would have liked to not have gone through. I sometimes wish I could have just enjoyed them, not have had to be responsible for them to turn into productive, compassionate, contributing members of society. Of course, we know this is all on-the-job training. I think I am a slow learner. What I've learned along the way...
1. Be the parent, not the friend. It's easier to give in than to stand up for what you know is right.
2. Grow up. Yes, I mean the parent. Just because you want something for them, doesn't mean it's the best thing for them.
3. When they are least lovable, love them even more.
4. Never, never, never give up. This became my mantra when they were teens.
5. There is a difference between discipline and punishment. Telling a child they can't have candy, or need to go to bed isn't a punishment, even though they may throw an absolute raging tantrum. This is discipline, to learn right from wrong, to learn boundaries and expectations. (This is a biggie, I learned this late in the game as I was always a sucker for tears.)
6. If there are 2 parents, act as one in front of the kids. No two people's parenting skills are always the same, you can discuss this in private. In front of the child, if he/she asks one, the answer has to be the same from both.
7. Value their opinion. This starts at a young age. Ask them easy things, giving them choices. Then let them live by their decision. This is the basic cause and effect. Then discuss the decision, if it's correct, applaud them. If it's the wrong decision, talk about the pros and cons. This can be started very young. For example, if they refuse to wear mittens in cold weather, their hands will get cold. Hmmm...won't take too long to learn mittens keep your hands warm.
8. Let them own their decision. We all learn as parents our children sometimes refuse to cooperate. There is no choice but theirs. Let them learn the consequences of their decision. Point it out that you are Start this young. It will sure help when they are teens. Making mistakes at age 2 or 7 or 12 are a lot easier to rectify then when they are 16 or 18 or 20.
9. You don't "give" a child self-esteem. They build it. Give the child a task, slightly challenging, and watch them succeed and want to take on bigger challenges.
10. Both parent an child need to be "Playground tough." You cannot and should not fight all of their battles. Let them find a way to work it out. This was really hard for me when I wanted to go kick a-- when my child was hurting.
11. Set high expectations. If you don't, nobody will. This is your job.
12. Enjoy your children, laugh a lot. Take photos so you can look back on some of those dark moments and giggle. Most of them won't seem so dark in the grand scheme of things.

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