Parenting: Not for the Faint of Heart

Article by Judy Mosley

 

Already I have walked away, four times, from the computer screen.  It’s quiet time.

 

Last year, quiet time meant that all little people went to sleep.  Now, the definition of quiet time has changed to, “Stay in your room for at least an hour so that I can get something done.”  Sometimes they fall asleep, but mostly they stay awake.  It makes for a dreamy bedtime.  However, my middle child is still working through the concept of staying in her room.  So I’ve gotten up, again, to remind her that she needs to stay there.

 

It’s a work in progress.

 

Teaching kids how to live is not an easy task. And knowing whether or not you are doing a good job can be difficult to figure out.  Some days you can feel like the super hero from a story book.  Other days can leave you feeling like the worst parent in the world.  But there is always tomorrow … and it’s a relief to know that whatever you did yesterday can be transformed today.

 

Here are some guidelines of my own that I have gathered from my experience as a parent. They’ve helped me to know if I am on the right track with my children.

 

1. Be Clear (and Consistent) About Your Expectations.

This includes telling, showing, and modeling for them what you would like them to be doing on a daily basis.  Whether it’d good manners at the table, behaving a certain way in public, or picking up their rooms, children need to be taught how to do this. And just as importantly, they need to see you do what you expect from them.  Be the leader and show them how you want them to behave.  If you are clear about what you want, it makes it easier for them to follow what you say. 

 

2. Keep Expectations Age Appropriate.

Age is important when it comes to your expectations.  A three year old simply cannot do what a fourteen-year-old can.  My two-year-old can’t empty the dishwasher, but she can hand me the dishes (carefully!) so that I can put them away.  My kids can’t put away their clothes yet, but they can take the clothes to their rooms.  Don’t underestimate their abilities, but also, don’t give them more than they are able to take on.

 

3. Let Your Yes be Yes and Your No be No.

This means sticking to what you say.  If you told them, “No snacks before dinner,” then you need to keep the snacks away until dinner.  If you said that you wouldn’t buy them a toy in the store, then the toys need to remain on the shelf, no matter what their response may be.  This also means that if you say you will take them for ice cream after they get their pictures taken … do it.  Children need to know that you mean what you say.  They will be more likely to trust you when you do this.

 

This also means your spouse should support you and not undermine your decisions.  Sometimes, one or the other spouse has a difficult time saying “no,” or simply does not want to be the “bad guy,” or wants to be “pals” with the kids.  But you can’t have it both ways.  You cannot “parent” from these perspectives.  Parenting means setting boundaries and clear expectations … being consistent with Yes and No … and therefore knowing who is the parent and who is the child.  

 

4. Give Grace where it’s Needed.

Sometimes, the little people in your life just won’t feel good.  Whether it is illness or hunger or exhaustion, their brains won’t function as well as they (or you) would like them to.

 

Give them some grace if they aren’t feeling well.  This doesn’t mean making bad behavior okay, but realize that they may not be able to perform at their best if their bodies are in need of some care.

 

5. Have Fun!

Remember that life is not all about picking up toys and keeping things calm.  Find ways to

get rowdy and raw with your children.  Play games outside.  Wrestle with them.  Chase them.  Dance and sing out loud.  They need to see you as a real person.  Have fun together and your relationship will continue to grow and broaden in many ways.

 

Being a parent is not easy. But, if you love them and are willing to learn how to give them what they really need, you won’t regret it. Stay present with them. Be there. Look in their eyes.

 

And, remember that there can be joy in every moment. You just have to find it.

 

“The first and finest lesson that parents can teach their children is faith and courage.”

-Smiley Blanton

 

“No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I’m not talking about the kids.  Their behavior is always normal.”

-Bill Cosby

 

 

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Posted on 8 September, 2009 in Parenting
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