Raising Kids: A Dozen Positive Parenting Tips
What drives a mother crazy
In my household, raising two children did not compare to the chaos of growing up in a household of six kids, two dogs, a cat named Jack, a black and white rat, a canary, one Dutch rabbit, a guinea pig who matched the colors of the rat, two gerbils, (both male), a garter snake, a litter of white mice, one maternal grandmother and two biological parents. That was in our Detroit suburban home, not out in the rural Michigan countryside.
Years later, as I muddled through the dark ages of adolescence with my own teens, frequently lamenting to my mother, I understood why my mother looked forward to her daily cocktail hour: we had driven her to drink!
American novelist, J.D. Salinger, stated, “Mothers are all slightly insane”. Experienced moms know there is a ring of truth to this statement. New mothers, full of bliss, awe and trepidation, may still need a few more years…or kids, to ‘get it’.
One of the more interesting Mothers Day gifts I received from my, then 10 and 8 yr old daughters, was a red ribbon award that had a button attached stating, ‘Certifiably Crazy’.
“What?” thought I, slightly miffed at what I perceived as a less than flattering measure of my motherhood. Gazing at their beaming faces, I realized the endearment behind the gesture. A testament to my ability to be a fun mom sometimes, and I had almost missed the joke. Twenty years later, I still have that ribbon tucked away in a keepsake box. Mothers are like that.
What makes a mom
I wasn’t always deemed a fun mom. My title back then was, ‘the-meanest-mom-on-the-block’. I wore it proudly. I was the only mom, apparently, who did not allow her children to do anything the other kids were allowed to do, including letting them stay up as long as they wanted or allowing them to watch MTV. In addition, I was the only mom who made her kids do stuff they did not want to do-like chores and wearing boots during slush season.
Their frustration with my limit setting never intimidated me. As far as I was concerned, it was mere proof that I was doing the job I took on when I brought them into this world. It was my duty, therefore, to impart bits of sensibility into their pea brains so they could one day leave me alone! The way I figured it, the faster I taught them independence, the quicker I would have my home back to myself.
A lesson learned from my mother: how to be a loving parent even with rules. It brought out a heavy dose of both compassion and guilt, for her situation, and all the grief we caused her growing up
Tollhouse cookie recipe cookbooks
Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies
My mother was deemed one of the ‘cool’ moms in our neighborhood. With the menagerie we had, one would think she was a laid-back farm girl, who moved into the burbs. Not so. She was a city girl from Detroit, who relocated because that’s where my father’s job as a tool and die maker was.
What made her cool was the open door policy she kept for anyone who stopped by. It was our home that attracted friends for baseball and football games, hockey, on our homemade ice rink, and treasure hunting. I cannot begin to recount how many huge holes we dug up in our backyard, searching for gold, yet my mother never complained.
It was our kitchen table we would gather around, to eat bowls of cherries from the tree my dad had planted, talking about life-until my mom would shoo everyone back to their own houses. It was her listening ear, that got bent from the after school dramas, while she cooked offering cookies and wisdom when my girlfriends sought her advice.
Positive Parenting Skills
Honor the developmental stages
Tips for being an influential mother with guaranteed success:
If you follow these 12 'simple' steps you are bound to meet with Motherhood success:
1. Remember your own childhood issues-this does not mean transferring your issues onto your children, which some mothers do, but recalling issues that concerned you as a child and teen and handling them with sensitivity when your children experiences them is a sign of a compassionate parent.
2. Advocate for your child. Complacency has no place in parenting. We must show by action, not words, that we have our child’s back. This does not mean that you will believe every story your child tells verbatim; but it does mean that your child will know that if there is a bully issue or an injustice that occurs in school or in the home, that you will stand up for him when he is powerless to do so.
3. Allow your child to receive her licks without interference; then, help her process what happened. Although we want to protect and rescue our child when something bad happens, it is important that we teach her how to make good decisions and how to accept the consequences of her choices when she meets with failure. Rescuing a child every time they are in trouble-whether at school or other authorities, does a disservice to her.
4. Be aware-there is nothing worse than a parent who chooses denial and ignorance. The mere act of keeping one’s eyes, ears, and brains on alert with children is scoring high in the game. If your child knows that you are going to be asleep at the wheel of parenting they will test running the show. Instead, show them that you remember being a kid and that nothing is going to get past you. Part of being a parent is trust, part of it is bluff that you know what is going on-even if you only suspect.
5. Don’t be afraid to set limits and stick to them. Children need boundaries to feel safe enough to flourish. Remember: they have not been in the world as long as you have and therefore really do not know what the heck they are doing, although they profess a good argument. It is our jobs, as their mothers, to remind them who’s really in charge, gradually letting them have more and more independence and responsibility.
6. Teach by example. There is a wonderful poem that I became aware of as a new mom called, Children learn what they live. It is one of the best pieces of advice I received, and attempted to emulate. The other came from Kahilil Gibran: On Children, and that children are gifts from God-we are merely caretakers during their time that they have been given to us. When we show our children that we are not giving mere lip-service to what we expect them to do, but we actually follow our own rules, it teaches them respect.
7. Teach morals-it never goes out of style, despite whatever else may be happening in the world.
8. Practice forgiveness-when we are willing to fully forgive and forget we give our children a valuable gift-the ability to be accepted for whom they are, unconditionally loved, and that everyone makes mistakes, but it does not mean the end of the world.
9. Have a sense of humor and use it often! This is one of the best pieces of advice for any parent to follow. If we cannot laugh at ourselves and our follies we may as well roll into a corner and die. It is an essential attribute of motherhood to allow plenty of laughter and joy into the household.
10. Keep an open mind-when you tell your child that she can tell you ANYTHING without concern that she will be in trouble, keep your word. Don't be reactive, but actively listen and respond, or stay silent, according to the situation. This will keep trust and an open communication.
11. Communicate-set clear expectations and explanation of consequences; own your feelings and admit your mistakes; teach your child to communicate his feelings clearly as well.
12. Love, love, love…This cannot be emphasized enough. Our children deserve to know they are loved, not by what they achieve, how good their grades are, or how well they please us, but just for being who they are-divine children of the Universe-spiritual beings that happened to land in our lives. There can never be enough unconditional love in the world.
Song: A Mother's Love
Love and other gifts my mother gave to me
Mother's Day is a time for celebration, reminiscing, rejoicing or recanting. Some have been blessed with childhood experiences that are filled with positive parenting. Others, have not fared so well. Have you thought of your mother today and the gifts she has given you?
My mother gave me the gift of reading. She was an avid reader and read bedtime stories to us every night. It was a ritual: bath time, prayers, and a story. Warm, cozy pajamas, snuggling on the couch, she would read aloud, as we fought to see the pictures. In turn, I have read to my children, and now, to my children’s children…always with a thought for my mother.
She loved to dance. She was a wonderful dancer and, always young at heart, danced throughout her life. When I was nine she brought me to the local dance studio, giving up her own tap lessons in order for me to take ballet. We enjoyed attending many a ballet together at the Detroit Opera House. Years later, she applauded, and landed a role as Story Lady, when I opened my own dance studio.
Having a sense of humor is a tool of survival for motherhood. It is what gets us through the worse of the times. Our ability to laugh at ourselves, as our child develops, that keeps us sane…and allows us to go a bit crazy, too. My mother loved kids, had extras around all the time, and enjoyed a good joke. I’m grateful for the sense of humor that was imparted onto me.
Motherhood is a thankless job for a very long time. Then, they really do grow up and you create an adult relationship with them. If you are truly blessed, as I am, you get grandchildren to enjoy, too.
I’m grateful that I am a mother and a grandmother. I tip my hat to all mothers, young and old.
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