In case you missed it, here is a recent post from “Rosie to the Rescue”, my blog for Parents Magazine. Caught up in what type of parent you want to be? Go back to the basics and focus on these 10 parenting rules to live by. Don’t miss the rest of the “Rosie to the Rescue” posts, available here.
It’s hard to know what type of parents we are going to be before we become them. We all have ideas in our heads of what we certainly won’t do, or what we definitely want to try and do! For instance, I had some crazy notion that I was going to be a disciplinarian. I clearly had no idea how hard it was going to be to say “no” to the request for an extra chocolate chip cookie when those sweet little faces look up at me through big gorgeous eyes and say, “Please mama!” We may even find ourselves saying things that our parents did or that we heard at some point, such as, “No, you can’t have ice cream again tonight. You had some yesterday.” And then I wonder to myself why on earth can’t they have ice cream two nights in a row!
I’ve come to realize that our parenting tactics change, or should change, with each different child. What works for my oldest doesn’t necessarily work for my youngest’s personality. For example, my first son won’t touch an electrical outlet ever again after I told him not to, while my second may try to stick a fork in it while grinning at me as I scream, “NO! NO!” and dive frantically across the room to save him. And my third? Well, let’s just hope she doesn’t try the fork trick, but only time will tell how much she’ll really listen to what I say.
Each kid is different, which means we should parent them differently, at least in some ways. I remember getting on the floor with my first son and coaching him to crawl, obsessively charting his every move and marveling at his superman-like neck or leg strength. But it seems the more kids I have, the less thrilled I am about encouraging them to crawl as early as possible. I marvel, of course, when they do, but I also realize I can no longer place them in the center of the room and expect them to be there when I turn around. So am I obsessively encouraging it these days? No. Gently helping? Maybe!
From my experience, as we parent more children, we are less likely to fall for the far too plentiful judgmental stares, comments or parenting tactics everyone else in the world thinks we should employ, regardless of if we hear it on the street or screaming at us through the TV. The fact is, I’m too tired and too distracted to begin to listen to all that outside noise. Quite frankly, I’m doing my best and would rather shut out all the interference. I don’t think that making my own sprinkles (yes it’s possible) while whisking up some macrobiotic cupcakes (not sure if that is possible) containing milk I extracted from a goat earlier that afternoon will make me a better parent, but I do think spending quality time with my kids and making sure they know how loved they are is paramount.
With all the talk parents are subject to today that may confuse us or tempt us to redefine our idea of “good parenting,” I’d like to remind us all what is really important. There are some fundamentals of parenting that I don’t think should ever change, from the first to the twenty-first child (hello Duggar family).
So when in you’re in doubt, questioning your tactics or finding it hard to figure out if what you’re doing is right, try to tune out the noise and focus on the basics. Here are my 10 parenting rules to live by:
1. Admit when you have made a mistake.
2. Shower your children with love and affection.
3. Give them structure.
4. Believe in boundaries.
5. Love with confidence, because insecurity will devour and distract you.
6. Treat your children as individuals, because they are.
7. Never be afraid to ask for help.
8. Don’t listen to judgmental people. Have confidence in your choices, and if you don’t, consider making new choices.
9. You can never say “I love you” too many times.
10. Sometimes, it’s alright to just leave the dishes dirty.