From day one I knew having a child would be a challenge. There was no book I’d ever read, no lesson I was ever taught and no experience I’d have ever faced that would have prepared me for motherhood. Heck, parenthood for that matter. (Father’s have been known to be mother’s too and vice-versa. I’m not pulling a sexual card here. I only know what I know. Most of what I share here is opinion based.)
Growing up is hard work. It takes sympathy, kindness, understanding, honesty, empathy, strength, passion, etc. In both child and parent.
I love being a mother. It’s the toughest work I’ve ever put in. However, it’s also the most rewarding. Some look at it as a job but it’s really more of a blessing. There are many ways to be a great parent but no way to be a perfect one. You must simply give your children love- true, unending, forgiving, accepting and constant love. From birth, you plant a seed deep inside their mind that will give them an inner voice and confidence that you are responsible for nourishing and building on.
The voice that you help establish is not only vital in their daily decision making but also provides familiarity and comfort that you will be forgiving if something should go wrong. The confidence and compassion within their souls is extremely critical when you are not present. Therefore, the bond you build with your child shapes not only their inner self but their morals as well.
A child is just that; a child. They need room to make mistakes and learn from each one. They need to have experiences and knowledge obtained from cause and effect and have the support needed through their trials. They also need understanding and compassionate parents that give them enough leeway to learn and yet still love them through their mistakes.
Shel Silverstein says it in his poem, “The Voice”.
“There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long.
‘I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.’
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you — just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.”
That’s the voice that must be formed. The inner voice is speaking louder each day. I must strengthen that voice now. I will use all my super powers, and I don’t have many, to build this voice that will follow them through their toughest years.
Ways to build that voice and your child:
- Give notice to something they have done. Give them an “atta-boy” or better yet, “I like the way you made your bed today without being asked. That was helpful.” Let them know that you appreciate them and their actions, any way you can.
- Praise the positive behavior. “Wow, you shared your toys with your sister. That was so kind. Now she can play with you.” The more you praise the positive, the more positive you’ll see.
- Stay calm in a stressful situation. (Toughest for me). Milk can be wiped up, cereal spills can be swept, toys can be put away, boo-boo’s can be fixed. Accidents can happen and the world still go on. They need calm reactions to focus on the outcome. Spills can be cleaned, boo-boo’s get better and toys can be put away all while being calm. This helps them tremendously for many many years to come. Both in school, relationships, work… They’ll experience many more stressful situations than what you’d like to think about.
- Answer their million questions. They think that you know everything. Research together if you don’t know. Show them that it’s okay to seek outside sources and a way to problem solve. Chances are, there is a lesson for you to learn to. Embrace the learning time.
- Encourage them to be positive and curious. Let them explore cause and effect. If they take the lid off of the cup, what happens? If they throw food in the floor, have them to clean it up. (If you continuously clean up after them, it becomes a game. Remember- cause and effect.) There are lessons to be taught every single day. At some point in time, they will learn at least one new thing every day. Nourish their minds with juicy self-explored knowledge. For one day, they may take over the world.
- Independence is important. Even though it is hard to release them into the world after we spend the first few years caring for their every little need. They need to know how to take care of their self and their needs. It’s nice to feel needed, but as our children grow, their needs change. They’ll always need their parents; just not to wipe their booties anymore.
- IMPORTANT! They are always watching you. Always watching. (In my best old lady from Monsters Inc. voice). They watch your reactions to situations. They listen to your tone when you are talking, not only to them but others. Especially your spouse. They watch your body language. They watch EVERYTHING. If it’s not acceptable for them, it’s probably not acceptable for you. I know someone (more than one actually and out of respect I’ll not disclose their names) that believes in “Do as I say and not as I do.” Okay, let me lay my opinion here for you. Your children may be the smartest being you know but I can bet that most can’t distinguish what’s right and what’s wrong unless you TEACH them. And remember what I said earlier… They are always watching you… You are teaching them not only through your words but your actions as well. So, they will do as you do because they want to be like you and act like you do because they want to be like you. Who do you want them to be?
I know I have left so many things out. Remember, there is no perfect way to be a parent but a million ways to be a great one. What’s your opinion on parenting? Any words of advice?