I've been a mother for 22 years and a daycare mom for ten years (second mom to over fifty kiddos) yet I still often feel that I don't have all the answers.....or, to be quite honest, any of the answers regarding parenting. I often feel with each new baby that enters my home, I'm learning it all over again. Each child is so extremely different from the next. Yet there are a few things I've picked up along the way.
|Me and my Princess, approximately 1994|
As well meaning as this advice was, I now disagree. Babies can be spoiled. Spoiled to the point where they run the house. Children that grow up in a house where they are in charge grow up thinking that they are in charge of their world. Fortunately for me, my daughter has the sweetest disposition ever (really, I'm not just saying that because I'm her mom). Also, I was young, a bit selfish and thought the world revolved around me - this isn't a good thing but it did help give a little balance we shared the princess status in our home. Somehow she turned out ok. :)
I also had the naive notion that as long as I loved my child, that love would wash away any parenting mistakes that I could possibly make. Love can get you through a whole lot but on the flip side, it is possible to love to much.
Don't love so much that you stifle your child's natural curiosity in the name of safety. If your child wants swing on the monkey bars, let him! If he wants to see what dirt tastes like, please allow them this experience. Use common sense of course. You know, like if your child wants to see what dog poo tastes like, I'd suggest you stop them.
Don't love so much that you do EVERYTHING for your little prince/princess. Please give your child skills to gain independence and problem solve.
- "disappear" when it's time for your little one to put his shoes on. Start getting ready to leave the house 20 minutes early so that your precious tot can learn new skills that will help to develop independence and also learn problem solving skills (such as this shoe doesn't feel good on my foot...ah! let's try the other foot!)
- don't push your child on the swing. I know, this sounds terrible but how in the world will they learn to pump if some is always pushing? Again, independence and problem solving.
- If they want to put their shoes on the wrong foot, don't criticize the fact that it's "wrong" (heck, I sometimes have a hard time getting this right) but instead praise them for getting the shoe on the foot! My son used to wear his shoes on the wrong feet. After asking if it was uncomfortable (he always said no), I asked if he wanted to fix it (again, no), and I let him wear his shoes on the wrong feet because really, what does it matter?
|Fall 2001 Breanna, age 11 and Isaiah, age 2|
LISTEN because sometimes your child doesn't want advice but just needs to be heard. Turn off the tv, turn off the computer, silence your phone and give your child 100% of your attention. Don't interrupt and don't give your opinion or your advice unless it's requested. This isn't always easy for me but often times the more I listen the more they TALK!
And speaking of talking, since I have a thirteen year old that talks incessantly, tune in even if the constant chatter is driving you insane. This is advice that I need to practice! I keep reminding myself that sooner rather then later his talking will begin to quiet. I need to take a deep breath, pray silently to God for patience and listen.
However there are times when your child needs to be silent and it is ok to have appropriate, designated quiet times. Teach your child the value of listening to others. Often my son will interrupt discussions because he just wants to be the one talking. We discuss often the value of really listening to others and contributing to the conversation rather then changing the conversation to fit our own interests. Communication skills are so valuable as your child develops relationships with others. This skill can be properly modeled for the young ones too....especially over family dinner. :)
Require obedience, not respect. Once taught obedience, the respect will come. I remember being very frustrated with a very busy, obstinate young boy (yes, that would be my son) and screaming, "I AM YOUR MOTHER! I DEMAND YOUR RESPECT!" Obviously I quickly learned that this wasn't working. I wanted respect but this was not how I was going to obtain it. Instead respect needs to be given and modeled to be learned. Respect your child as an individual that has been uniquely made by God for His purpose and not your own.
Love deeply yet let go when it is necessary for growth. Let your child stumble so that they can learn lessons. This can be applied to a toddler taking his first steps to a teen taking his first steps towards independence in driving, going to college and moving away from home. This is HARD.....and I'm not very good at it. I want to hold onto my "babies" forever. Is easy to think that my kids won't "live without me" however I can have faith in a God that is always watching over my children when I can not.
Parenting can be hard. Just when you think you have something figured out, a new phase begins. Give the hard to God, ask for His guidance and enjoy your children for in a blink of the eye they will be grown.