My career and my life have centered on children.
I began babysitting when I was in junior high and worked as a tutor with younger children when I was in high school, and that path remained. I went to school to be a teacher. I have worked with children of all ages in many capacities, as a teacher, coach, Girl Scout leader, mentor, volunteer, day care provider, aunt . . . I have attended many classes, trainings, and workshops on topics dealing with children. But, I have learned the most about children in my most important role, as a parent.
I am the mother of three beautiful children (of course they are beautiful, I am their mom) and am very lucky and fortunate to raise them with their father, my husband, who shares in the same parenthood passion as I do. He is definitely a “hands-on” father. We love our children unconditionally.
As it is, my husband and I got going a little later in life with the expansion of our family. Our youngest just started on her official school journey, as she is now a kindergartner. Our middle child is in fourth grade, just a couple months shy of hitting the double digits; she is nine. And our oldest will very shortly be an official teenager. He is in seventh grade and almost 13.
My husband, who has been gray for several years, has been reminded often that he is an older father. When he attended our youngest daughter’s parent play day at school, her little classmate announced, “Delaney, your grandpa is here.” He actually receives that sort of comment on an occasional basis. In fact, not long ago, we were eating at a restaurant, and an older gentleman approached our table to commend my husband on having three beautiful grandchildren. (I think I was in the bathroom.) His calm and collected response has now come to this, “Thank you.”
Now that I am the parent of an almost teenager and a parent of three children who have different personalities, from each other, I have learned some things that have helped me out in my relationships with my children.
Allow your children to be themselves. Let them find their way with their own unique personalities guiding and teaching them along the way. Try not to compare your children with each other. It lessens their self worth as people. Differences make the world go round.
Guide them, but don’t suffocate them. Trust them, but always ask questions. Ask questions, but don’t drill them. Know where they are and who they are with. Invite their friends over to your house so you know who your children occupy their time with and who they are influenced by.
Allow them some freedom, but don’t totally let go of their “hands.” They need us.
Have expectations, but don’t expect perfection. No one can reach that status, and if we expect it, they will feel that they never can get it “right” with us.
They will make mistakes. Be there to pick them up from their “falls.” We all learn from mistakes. These are lessons.
Communicate with them. Talk and listen . . . and listen some more. You may be amazed at how much they share when you listen and take the time and give them undivided attention.
Give each child their own time with you this is important. They did not choose their parents, heir siblings, or the order they were born. Make yourself worthy of being a parent, their parent. Be the best parent that you can, knowing that you, too, are not perfect. It is ok to admit this. It is okay to wear the “crabby” robe sometimes, just so you don’t wear the robe out.
Laugh and joke; have fun. Try not to take things too seriously all of the time. Surround them with peace and calm. Surround them with love. Help them to find a sense of calm in their lives, responding to situations, but not reacting and overreacting.
Always show them you love them. When things in life seem to be changing for them, we are their stability. Tell them you love them each night before you go to bed and each morning when you get up.
Love them some more.