I love being a mom. Like, love-love-love it! I think it’s fun. And scary. But mostly fun. I’ve done some pretty cool and smart things as a mom. (it’s ok to admit that, isn’t it?) I’ve also done some pretty dumb things, too. Perhaps admitting that I’m sometimes a cool and smart mom is one of them.
I’ve learned a lot as a parent. And I’ve learned a whole lot of what-not-to-do’s & what not to assume.
So, I thought I’d put together a little list I’m calling,
“Parenting 1-Oh-None” – What I’ve learned not to do in my 19 years of miraculously keeping two kids fairly unscathed.
*Don’t. Blink. If you do they will grow up before you open your eyes again.
*Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re not perfect. And that’s okay. If we all were perfect parents then we’d have millions of Justin Biebers walking around. I KID I KID I KID.
*Don’t encourage them to lie. We all do, or have done, this. Ex: I walked by Kassidi’s room when she was 3 years old and saw her jumping on her bed. I continued to walk on but asked her, “You’re not jumping on your bed, are you?” Her answer…”Nope!” And she stopped jumping on her bed. You see what I did, tho? I encouraged her to lie. She knew she was jumping on the bed and she knew I saw her. But in that, seemingly, innocent question – I gave her permission to lie and get away with not having to deal with the consequence of doing something she knew she wasn’t supposed to do. Mama fail.
*Don’t take the easy way out. Above is a great example. What I should’ve done was invested the time Kass was worth having. Putting the linens away should not have taken precedence over a teachable moment. (Although I, myself, learned something from it) But this is our children’s character we’re talking about. They are worth way more time than we share with them.
*Don’t think that your days of going to the bathroom alone are over just because they become teens. Until they move away your bathroom will always be an open invitation.
*Don’t make every. single. “oops”. a long. drawn. out. speech. There are times their little butts warrant a fair dose of reality and a stern, long, talkin’ to, yes. But not every time. Say what you need to say in the first several seconds otherwise you will lose their attention. Make your words count. And get on eye level – speak softly – and demand they repeat back to you what you’ve told them. And then move on.
*Don’t neglect setting boundaries. It’s easy to buy into the “they need to have the freedom to express themselves in any way they can” line. Wellll…not at the cost of being unruly, disrespectful and down-right ugly to be around. Kids want boundaries. I mean, they’re not marching out the womb requesting them. And they sure the heck aren’t going to remind you to set them. But they want them. They need them. They feel safer knowing they have boundaries and where those boundaries are. There is freedom in knowing what you can and can’t do. It takes the guess-work and anxiety out of their making choices. Children who know their boundaries are, generally, calmer and compliant. It’s also a great accountability tool. When they cross the known line they’ve no one to blame but themselves.
*Don’t assume your kids know you’re sorry. Actually say it! When you’re reactionary and fly off the handle…own it and ask forgiveness. HUGE life lesson there for you AND your kids.
*Don’t forget that your child is different than you. They will have different passions, interests, behaviors and personalities. We can’t mold them into mini-me’s – but we can help mold them into the unique people they were created to be.
*Don’t go it alone. It really does take a village. Find your village! Whether you have a spouse who helps – a spouse who doesn’t help - or you’re a single parent – an adoptive parent – whatever, find fellow parents and families that you can learn from, confide in and do life with. You’ll either learn more of what to do or what not to do. Either way you’re learning.
*Don’t pass on celebrating the little things. There are huge achievements in a child’s life, like – spelling b’s – sporting wins – acing the math test – not peeing the bed. And there are also the ‘little’ things that all too often go unnoticed. When little Jimmy throws away his own capri-sun pouch without being asked…thank him. When Susie waits patiently beside you while you’re talking to your friend and she doesn’t interrupt you…tell her you appreciated that later. Here’s the thing – if we only celebrate the big moments then we are telling our children that to get our attention and approval they always have to do big things. It’s equally the little things throughout their lives that shape their character and form disciplines and healthy habits. Make sure they know you notice those, too.
*Don’t forget to LAUGH with them!
Alright. These are just a very few of my thoughts and life-lessons as a parent. And I could’ve easily made this a “What to DO” post in place of a “DON’T” post but I just loved my “1-Oh-None” idea I had last night. So, there.
What parenting lessons have you learned that I can learn from?