As a parent we do the best we can with what the knowledge and know-how we have. It is what I honestly believe about my parents and the way I was raised. Before I had a child, I vowed that I would be everything my parents weren’t for me. Not to say that they were bad parents, they simply did the best they could and I wanted to do better. I am by no means a perfect parent but I do strive to be the best parent to my son that I can possibly be. Our beliefs, values and upbringing influence the way we raise our children. When coaching other parents I share this thought, if you want your child to have a better childhood/adulthood than you did, break the cycle of your own childhood and seek to find different ways of loving and communicating with them. It is through change that we grow and becoming better. Not everyone’s life is lollipops and butterflies growing up. But we all have a choice when it comes to the way we raise our own children. Challenging life experiences has given me the knowledge and ability to take on the absolute best, most important and sometimes stressful job on the planet, being a parent.
Lesson 1: Don’t rush to parenthood. It will get here soon enough. There is no set time to have a family. Live your life and enjoy growing as a person. Learn what makes you happy, what you feel strongly about, what you won’t settle for and what you will compromise on. These key things will help you navigate your life in a positive forward motion.
Lesson 2: Be mindful of every single interaction you have with your child. I know this is tough in our society today. We are all so busy trying to get through the day that sometimes we don’t stop to be present. I look at it as a time to breathe and slow down.
Lesson 3: Always be present when they need you. (Refer to Lesson #2) They need to feel secure and have a sense of stability. This is probably one of the most important things I can express to parents. Our job (which we chose) is to protect and nurture our children so they can thrive.
Lesson 4: Teach them coping skills. I can’t impress upon this lesson enough. It is an absolute necessity. Life is tough, especially for a child. They don’t understand the ways of the world. But when a teaching moment arises, use it as an opportunity to educate them. Help them navigate the world around them. You’ll be glad you did.
Lesson 5: Teach them respect, consideration and humility. People will treat them as they treat others. Ultimately we attract the kind of people that we are similar to. If you want your child to be a leader, teach him to lead through kindness and understanding, not arrogance.
Lesson 6: Teach them compassion. There simply isn’t enough of it in the world. As Whitney Houston said, children are our future. If you want to live in a world that is tolerant of what is different, teach your child to love everyone equally.
Lesson 7: Let their imagination run wild. Creative minds make great future problem solvers. Children don’t think outside the box, because according to them, there is no box. They don’t even know what that means. Let them dream, create wonderful stories even if you know that it may never happen. To a child anything is possible.
Lesson 8: Always listen to them. They could teach you something new and just for a moment you can escape to their world and see the beauty they see. I have been on some wild and crazy child adventures and wouldn’t trade them for the world. For some parents it may be the only childhood they experience, relish in it.
Lesson 9: Let them try new things even if you don’t agree. And PRAY about it! I do. I have a pretty strong faith but my son can unravel my nerves in an instant with some of his stunts. Instead of telling him no, I educate him about the importance of being careful and then let him decide whether it is worth it. Thankfully, the worse case has been scraped knees and shins.
Lesson 10: Value them and their opinions. They may be little but they are important and they matter too. I often pose questions to my son about various things just to get his input on it. It doesn’t mean I am going to run out and do what an 8 year old suggests, but I do listen to his thoughts and collectively we come up with a solution to the question.
Lesson 11: Refrain from speaking harshly to them. This is a toughie, I know. But when the urge comes, take a step back and breathe. I have to bite my tongue sometimes especially when I feel the stress of life creeping in. In moments when I want to unleash my every thought, I stop and become silent. I put myself in a 30 second time out so I can regroup.
Lesson 12: Absolutely NO name-calling. This can kill a child’s self-esteem faster than anything else. When people would ask my son if he was being a good boy, I would reply back that he is always a good boy. Children have rough days; they little people with emotions and are going to experience challenges like the rest of us. It doesn’t make them bad kids. A child reared to believe they are bad, will never believe he can be anything other than just that.
Lesson 13: Be the person you want your child to model. They learn how to function in society by how they see us interact in it. The way we treat people, greet people and socialize in general with others is how our children will learn how to navigate the world.
Being the mother of a child is the most rewarding job I could have. The joy that my son brings me is bar none. When I look at him I see the world through a new, fresh pair of eyes in all its wonder and amazement. He is a brilliant child by my standards and I pray that he will grow up to be emotionally balance, mental strong, physically healthy and spiritually fulfilled. At the end of the day, I just want him to be the best version of himself, to never stop growing, to always be amazed by new and different things and above all, to be HAPPY!
If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you will have given your children the greatest of all blessings. – Brian Tracy