Every parent knows that when your child is silent, something must not be right. I lived this for about two years with my youngest son. From flushing things down the toilet, to eating dirt, to pulling all the baby wipes out of the container, unrolling the toilet paper all over the bathroom, and the list goes on and on. I’ve been a Mommy now for almost 6 years and still have so much to learn. Each phase of childhood comes with its unique, beautiful and sometimes challenging moments, you know, like flushing your brother’s squishy toy’s down the toilet.
Remember saying “when I have kids, they won’t act like that.” Yes, I was one of those people. I may not have said it out loud but I thought it on several occasions. And now that I am a mom, I have so much more respect for the Momma whose child is throwing a fit in the grocery store. That Momma is struggling and learning and growing and she does not need your judgement but your support.
The truth is, this parenting thing can be tough. There isn’t a perfect manual that tells you what to do in every situation. And honestly, what works for one family, may not work for another. Every child and family situation are different and unique and it is a trial and error when it comes to parenting them. I’ve learned what matters most is your willingness and adaptability to try new approaches when one is not working, that’s how we grow, right?
I am incredibly lucky to have had an amazing mom and dad who just celebrated 35 years of marriage this year. While I said amazing, I didn’t say perfect. I don’t think the perfect parent exists but as I look back on my childhood as an adult and as a parent, I can say with certainty, my parents did these things right…
1. LOVE always wins
“Do you still love me, Mommy?” My son cooper asked me this just a few weeks ago. This was after a horrific day of bad choices. While I was in my office working, he and his brother decided to tear up a dirty diaper all over my carpet (yea…it was gross), they trashed the bathroom with their blue mouth wash (yep…it was everywhere), they were screaming bloody murder while I was on a work call (and I was presenting) and they decided to cut up a cucumber and feed it into a fan that was drying our ceiling in the kitchen after a leak from the washer. Let’s just say, I was not happy. As my son asked me that question though, my heart melted. “Of course, I still love you, NOTHING you could ever do will make me love you less,” I replied.
It didn’t matter what I did wrong, my parents always loved me. I know they were disappointed in my decisions many times through my childhood but that did not come between the most important part of parenting – LOVE. My parents demonstrated this to me and now I am showing my own children that…
LOVE always wins.
2. Be responsible and work hard
To this day, my Daddy wakes up before the sunrise and puts in 10-12-hour days at work and then comes home to work a few more hours on his farm. This man has work in his blood and I believe I learned this gem from him.
I think as early as 6 years old I was painting rocks and selling them to the neighbor kids for 25 cents and growing up, we had chores as early as I can remember. My Momma always liked a clean house (which is how I am today too) and our main chore was to pick up after ourselves. If we made a mess, we cleaned it up. Everything had a place and it was not on her floor. As soon as we were old enough, we did the dishes, vacuuming, mowing the yard, etc. We were taught at a young age that responsibility was important in becoming a successful and well-balanced adult.
At age 12, I started taking babysitting jobs and at age 14, I started an after-school job that continued throughout high school. If I wanted something, I had to work hard and earn it. I saved my money and bought my first car, (and my second one after I forgot to change the oil. Story for another time) I paid for my phone bill and my car insurance and anything I wanted in high school. I was not handed these things but I worked hard and was proud that I could handle them on my own. This is what ultimately paved my way into adulthood and I want my own children to know and learn this...
Be responsible and work hard.
3. Sing a little louder
Music was always in our home. We were blessed with musical abilities to sing and play instruments. I remember at a young age playing with the keys on my Mom's piano. Even on the hardest days, music lifted our spirits. To this day, my Momma still has worship music playing in the house during the day. Not only did it open up our creative side but I believe it was apart of our intellectual development.
As a Mom today, I find myself doing the same thing. Music plays while I work, while I clean or when I feel like dancing with my boys. When we have had a good day, we sing and when we have a bad day, we…
Sing a little louder.
4. Consistent discipline is a must
“If you don’t stop, I will pull this car over.” How many times did you hear this as a child? I heard it and I knew my Daddy meant it. Another popular one I heard was “You wait until your Dad gets home.” That was THE scariest thing to hear out of my Momma’s mouth. It wasn’t necessarily the punishment but the anticipation and the waiting for my Dad to come home. I remember one time hiding underneath my bed thinking somehow that would make it all go away…who was I kidding? Lol
The truth is, as I look back at it, it only took a few discipling moments to realize maybe I shouldn’t do that anymore. Okay, not always (grin) but my parents were consistent at least. I knew right from wrong and I knew what would get me into trouble.
As I look at my own children, I want to make sure I teach and discipline them with the same consistency…
Consistent discipline is a must.
5. Family IS important
I have a Dad, a Mom, an older sister and a younger brother and it was us five. We looked out for each other and we spent most afternoons with each other. We used to drive around looking for deer at squaw creek, we’d watch my brother play baseball games, we’d play HORSE with the basketball, we’d watch a show together or even play a board game. We used to get those big tenderloins at A&G Steakhouse and split them (they were the best). I even remember walking Duncan park as a kid and finding all of the golf balls that had flown over the fence from the club. These are memories I love because we were together and we made it important. And now as adults, we all look forward to the one to two times a year we are all together again. We laugh and we love each other as family should.
And then there is my extended family…a little over a dozen kids running around screaming, adults talking over each other with excitement and my Poppy just sitting in his chair trying to watch the game on TV. Holidays and birthdays consisted of large family events where all 30 to 40 of us would be packed into a house. It was loud, it was crowded and it was family. I wouldn’t trade these memories. It is unfortunate that I moved away and cannot be at every family event now but to this day I have never missed a Christmas gathering with my family. It is a priority and it is something I love.
As I look upon my own family, I know this…I want family to be important. I don’t want my kids to grow up and never come home for Christmas. I want them to be excited for it because…
Family is important.
6. Laugh Often
I credit my Momma for this. She still is so fun and crazy today. Each day as I parent my two boys, I find a little more of my Momma coming out in me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She made life fun even when it was hard. She gave us something to laugh about when we were bored and she gave us comfort even on the hardest days.
I probably shouldn’t tell you but she has a weird belly button laugh that could make anyone roll on the floor laughing and she tries to do a Donald duck impression and is actually pretty good at it. The other day I caught her talking “Minion” with my boys…yea, it was weird lol. And she loves making funny snap chat videos with my kids. They love her and find comfort in her humor just as I did as a child. Oh wait…I still do.
All I know is that I want my boys to find that same comfort in me as they grow up. They may go through a phase where I embarrass them but they will come around again just as I did. I want to raise my children to…
7. Giving is better than receiving
I don’t ever remember feeling deprived as a child but I don’t feel like we had everything by any means. Our needs were cared for and most years we waited for Christmas Day to get something we really wanted. We were able to get a new outfit before each new school year and if we wanted something else, well, we earned money and bought it ourselves.
More importantly, we learned that giving is better than receiving. My Momma always loved to give and even to this day she gets as excited as the kids at Christmas because she wants to see them open the gifts, she carefully selected for them. I know this is why I am the way I am. I remember as a child, spending hours making homemade Christmas gifts for all of my cousins, uncles, aunts and grandparents just because I wanted them to know I loved them and thought of them. To this day, I still check my lists at Christmas and make sure I didn’t leave anyone out. I may or may not get anything back but it doesn’t matter. I am not giving to receive. If my kids learn anything from me, I hope they hold onto this one…
Giving is better than receiving.
8. Go outside and play
No iPad, no laptops, no phones. It was a different childhood then the ones kids today get. Electronics were just not a thing. I remember playing Oregon Trail on an old Macintosh box computer desktop. Do any of you remember that game? They don’t make them like that anymore lol.
If I was bored, I was told to go outside and play. I’d climb trees, play in the dirt, run around with neighborhood friends, pick blackberries for my mom, play HORSE with my brother and so much more. And guess what, I loved every minute of it. They are some of my fondest memories.
Childhood is different for our kids. Both of my boys have their own ipad’s and have more screen time at their age then I ever did. This one is such a controversial topic and typically brings out the Karen’s. Have a little grace on yourself, I know I do.
I want my kids to experience the same great outdoor adventures that I once did and so I like to have balance. They get an hour of screen time in the evening during their calm down time but before that we play hard and we get dirty outside. We love riding our bikes and, on the weekends, we got out into the mountains and hike and explore. I want this for my children. I want them to…
Go outside and play.
9. Be kind to everyone
I have lived through and met bullies in my days – they exist in schools, in the workplace, within families and dare I say in churches. I could never understand it because my parents raised me to be kind to everyone. They taught us to have compassion and to be considerate of others. This was ingrained into my mind at such a young age that I never really knew hate.
My parents always taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to always be forgiving because we don’t really know what that person is going through. Heck, I see adults bulling their siblings and I just don’t understand it. When I get with my brother and sister you better be ready for the laughter and the smiles. I don’t even know the last time we have talked ill of each other or mean to each other. I love those two more than they know.
I see bullies even at my sons young age. I was just telling my husband a few weeks ago that those boys will have heavy discipline coming if I ever catch my kids treating someone like that. I hope if my boys learn anything, they learn to…
Be kind to everyone.
10. Have a little faith
My parents raised us to believe in God and to have faith when things were good and when they were not good. My Mom read the bible every morning and prayed with us before we left for school. When life was hard, I saw faith demonstrated by my parents.
When I was in the 7th grade, money was tight and my parents were unsure where the next meal was coming from but they had faith and they prayed that God would provide. That night a knock came from our door and we opened it to a cooler full of food. I don’t know who brought us the food that night but I do know that it was because of God and my parent’s faith.
I could tell you so many stories of seeing this faithfulness over and over again but id need a longer blog...lol
As I look upon how I am raising my tiny little humans, I see this as the most important. We pray every morning on the way to school, we pray before we eat and we pray before bedtime. We are learning scripture everyday and actively talking about what God can do when we have faith. I want my children to see me actively living a life of faith and not just talking the talk. I pray my boys will…
Have a little faith.
If you made it to the end of this blog, congratulations! You have learned a little bit about me and my upbringing and I hope you may have caught a few tips and tricks that you can take along with you in your parenting journey. There are no perfect parents, only fallible ones wanting only the best for their children.
Remember, stay adaptable and willing to learn, don’t judge the mom in the store who seems to be struggling but instead, stand with her. We all need to support one in another on this journey we call parenthood.