Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Parenting Tips

I grew up in a home with about a billion kids. We kids joked that my parents must've been looking for cheap(ish) labor when they had all of us. After all, replacing the roof was probably a lot cheaper (even if it did take approximately 242 times as long as it otherwise would have and required a trip to the ER and surgery when my sister fell off the roof), and I'm sure adding 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a basement would've cost more than it did too (I was too young to remember the injuries sustained there, but I'm sure there were some then too). Then there are the everyday and weekly chores we completed, gardening when we were younger, and free babysitting that the older siblings provided for the younger siblings. Hello child labor!

I often find myself thinking about how I was raised. I think I turned out okay, despite what my therapist might think (just kidding; I don't have a therapist...yet).

Anyway, I honestly believe that the people I know who are parents do the best they can with the skills and resources they have. And they seem like really good parents, for the most part. Of course, that doesn't mean they don't make mistakes. I can think of several things I'd like to do differently than my parents did, but maybe that's just me and this psychobabble I've been brainwashed with in school. That doesn't mean I think my parents were terrible parents (and they still play the parental role quite frequently, although I am weaned off the teat and the wallet for the most part).

My mother-in-law and I recently had a conversation about the different ways we were raised and it sounds like she thinks the way she was raised was much better than the way anyone else in the universe could possibly ever be raised. She wrote down some parenting basics from her mother, her father, and herself and emailed them to me and others. I can imagine what she was thinking: "My unborn grandchildren are in grave danger of being neglected/abused/raised by a monkey! There is work to do, and stat! Gotta do some flinging at the monkey in hopes some will stick before the monks/monkettes are being fermented/scarred for life!" Then one of her far superiorly raised sisters added some tips of her own and emailed them (this was promptly forwarded to me as well). I realized people like to talk about how much more they know about things than I do. After all, I'm almost a certifiable idiot! I make up words like superiorly and monkettes. Help! Do it for the chilluns!

So, my question to you parents is this: what words of wisdom do you have to share with a gal like me who wants to emulate things I've seen/heard others do? I guess the non-parents can respond too, because we don't only have terrible ideas (right? Or is this idea another one of my dur-dur-dur flashes of "brilliance" only a mother could love tolerate?).

Tell me what you do that is wonderful. I want to learn from your experiences! I want to take your knowledge, wisdom, creativity, etc and soak it in like a sponge so I don't end up a horrible failure as a parent (no, this isn't an announcement). After all, I'd like your kids to want to babysit for my kids one day, and we all know how much it can suck the life out of you to babysit someone who is a terror in motion! Hopefully they'll allow me to pay them with baked goods or something. After all, I believe in supporting child labor but don't want to break the bank! More money for me to save for a therapist. We all know I could use some therapizing.


erin said...

1. Get enough sleep. This goes for both you and the kids. Children need A LOT of sleep. I'm always shocked at how some parents sluff early bedtimes and naps because "it's too difficult", or they just think their kids don't need it. Puhleeze. Kids -- from newborns to college students -- function better with sufficient rest. Reports I've seen show toddlers (my kids) needing 12-15 hours of sleep every day, including naps. Yup, my girls go to bed by 7pm, wake around 6:30-7:30am, and take a mid-day nap. (It was difficult to keep Bev on naps, but since I lay down with her now, I take a brief nap every day. THEN I get about an hour of quiet time mid-day while they're both asleep....ahhh) HS students need about 10 hours/day because of their growing bodies that have a lot of demands placed on them. I'm a big fan of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Mark Wiesbluth. (Sorry on mispellings.)

2. Remember that kids hear and remember everything that you say in audible proximity to them. They may not acknowledge it, but they may quote you later. Remember how sweet and lovely this child is, and how much you love them. They are granted to us by our Father in Heaven to teach, mold and direct. Most of all, we must love them. Don't talk nasty, bratty, or snidely to your children. They'll remember it. I've heard one young mother tell her 6yo, "You don't talk to your teacher like that, so why would you talk to me like that? You need to treat me with the same respect that you treat your teacher." Later that same day, I asked the little girl what she was really good at, and her mother interjected, "Being annoying." Some people may think that these kind of teasings are harmless. But I don't. If your kids get in trouble for talking rudely to you, the same rule should be applied to you as a parent. Beverly has reminded me before (with my own words), "You need to talk nice to me, Mommy." They will always being younger and less experienced, but they never are inferior.

3. Learn to play. If you're like me and have a hard time playing with little kids, take time to learn. I hear this every day: "Will you please play with me, Mommy?" Sometimes the dishes and laundry (or computer) just isn't important. Make good use of your time. It's limited. If you don't build relationships when they're little, what will you do when they're older?

That's all I have today. :) When you two decide to expand your family I will probably have more advice to dispense.

Debra said...

Thank you for your input, Erin! You are a great mother, and I would really like to be more like you in many ways, so I appreciate the advice. :)

Daisy Paige said...

NEVER bribe or force children with food. Food is not a reward, nor a punishment. Food is energy. It's something that's needed by our bodies to function properly. When you reward children with food (especially treats), you inadvertently teach them that it's something to be coveted and yearned for. This is my absolute biggest pet peeve about Primary. Hello obesity?

Likewise, insisting children eat everything on their plate (especially veggies) will make food seem like a punishment and you may inadvertently teach them that healthy foods are something to avoid and loathe. If you only put healthful foods on their plates, you don't have to worry if they skip the green beans. And if they do skip the green beans, keep offering them without force, because they will likely eat them at some point in time. Seems I heard somewhere that most foods have to be introduced to children 7-10 times before they'll eat and like it.


McKnights said...

I have come to the conclusion with my children that planning ahead doesn't mean anything. I thought I knew how I was going to handle certain situations until I was in those situations. Nothing has ever worked out like I planned it to. Sometimes that has been a good thing and other times not so good.

Having four very different children, I know have a better idea of how hard it was for Mom and Dad. (For those of you that don't know, Debra is from a family of nine kids. All from the same Mom and Dad.) I never thought that kids from the same parents and same up bringing could be so different, but they are different is so many ways. Their differences make it hard to have one right way.

When your time comes and things get rough you can always get down on your knees and ask for help.