Yesterday I read a face book post from a young mother who graduated from the same high school as my kids. She stated she reads a lot of articles and it seems like her generation (the current 30’s) is always talking about how hard it is to be a parent, the intense pressure, but she didn’t remember her mom feeling this way! She wanted some wisdom from us “older” folks…
Here are my thoughts:
First of all the fact that she is looking to older, experienced parents and asking for advise and wisdom says she is a good parent. I believe there is a LOT of help available and older folks are anxious to offer opinions about what we though worked, and what didn’t. We don’t get asked too often so that is a GREAT START. Find parents who’s kids you love and respect and ask them questions about what they did and what they “wish” now, they would have done better.
Secondly, the fact that every time you are frustrated or concerned as a parent and you can go type that out for the world to see, is a slight disadvantage. I’m sure there were plenty of days where I felt defeated and wanted to quit but I didn’t verbalize that (social media) to others…so within a few minutes or hours, things got back to normal and better and NO ONE KNEW I felt like I did for that short time.
- Kids are too over stimulated these days. Parents feel like kids HAVE to be on the go and active ALL THE TIME. However in that process they are not learning valuable lessons like entertaining themselves, down time and dealing with boredom. These are things they must learn in order for parents to keep sane and get stuff done around the house and for kids to grow into adults who can deal with down time and boredom. Reading, building, coloring, and playing outside, are a few things kids can do without TV and computers at which time parents can get other things done.
- The most valuable thing we did was be strict. RULES, CONSEQUENCES, and CONSISTANCY. Routine early bedtime, no phones or computers in the bedroom with kids. Simple chores and punishment for breaking the rules. Kids are SMART. If you continue to threaten and never follow through they pick up on that and know they will not suffer any consequences and therefore the rule isn’t necessary to follow. YOU CAN ALWAYS BACK OFF STRICKNESS later, but it’s VERY DIFFICULT to try and GET strict AFTER your kids are already in charge and running the house. Don’t ASK them if they are ready for bed. TELL them it’s bedtime! Don’t ask them if they WANT to take a bath! Tell them it’s bath time. Don’t ASK THEM if they want something to eat! SIT DOWN ALL TOGETHER at dinner time and give them a plate and require them to sit still until everyone is done. If they don’t eat a decent amount of healthy food, no treats! Kids absolutely need to learn to sit still and be patient and to wait.
- Spend TIME with your kids. Play with them to help them find their imagination. Offer ideas as they are playing to help build their imagination. Bake cookies together, go to the park, encourage outdoor activity (and then have your backyard safe so they can go play out there without you). Get off the phone, computer and away from the TV. Help them form a personality free from “super heroes”.
Also my daughter reminded me that when she was a nanny and said NO, she always told them WHY. She thought her boys deserved to know why to help them understand. That is a GREAT IDEA. I probably said no, “because I said so”, too often. If you tell them “because its dangerous, or too late, or whatever”, they can begin to understand the reason for rules.
I believe talking is THE BEST way to help your kids develop. Always be talking…in the car, at home, at dinner, ask questions, show them things…KEEP TALKING!
Much love and respect to all parents! Raising kids is the hardest, most rewarding job you will ever have. Kids NEED rules, don’t be afraid to make them. Your children are not your buddy, or your bestie, or your date. They are your responsibility and our future! Be THE PARENT!