Lately it seems that I have been giving out a lot of parenting advice. I have had friends call all in a tizzy just wondering what to do with their little darlings and at a complete loss as to where to start. I wonder sometimes why they call me. Maybe it is because my kids are older (9 and 6) and I have gone through the terrible twos, threes, and fours. Maybe it is because I have a Masters degree in Counseling and all those years in school should be good for something. Maybe it is because I have worked as a school counselor for the last 11 years and one would hope that I would have gained some knowledge along the way, and then it occurred to me....they call me because my kids are little angels. They always do what I ask and they never throw fits in public. They are perfect children!.....ha.....even a Masters degree in counseling doesn't keep you from yelling "do you want a spanking", "if you don't stop crying I'll.....well you get the picture. Parenting is hard. That is all there is to it....it's hard! Yea I know I see those perfect little families in the restaurants too. You know the ones where the kids look like they just stepped out of a Baby Gap ad. Dad could be on the cover of GQ and well mom, you just want to scratch her eyes out because there is not a woman on earth that wouldn't want to be a size 2 after popping out a few kids and how does she keep those designer jeans so clean? I tell you what, those people are just a heartbeat away from a meltdown....you know what I mean....."the ketchup is touching my green beans" or "there is mustard on my burger and I hate mustard!!!!!!" See, it just looks like they have it together and you are pulling your hair out. Let's face it, we are all flying by the seat of our pants in this parenting thing. So, I thought I would give a little advice that I have learned as a mom and well, an educator (I have learned more as a mom though). There are a few simple things that every kids needs to succeed (no it is not an Nintendo or a baby Einstein video).
1. Every kid needs to be loved. They need to be told they are loved and given affirmation, real affirmation, they know when you are faking and please don't tell your kid they are really good at something when they aren't. I am not saying crush their spirit but let's face it false affirmation doesn't do them any good.
2. Every kid needs stability and a schedule. No I am not saying that you must have them in bed every night by 7:30 or the world will fall apart, but some type of routine and schedule through out their day gives them security. Maybe you read a story every night before bed or you sing the same song. These are the things that make kids feel loved and secure.
3. Every kid need boundaries. Show me a kid that doesn't have boundaries and I will show you hell on wheels! It is okay to say no and mean it!!!! It is your right, heck it is your God given duty to set those boundaries. Will they test them.....uh YES! That is okay. It is what they are supposed to do. They are just checking to see if you really mean what you say. When they realize you do then they can trust you and believe that you will always be there. They will also believe you when you tell them you love them.
4. Our goal as parents should be to raise responsible independent kids. I know, I know that independent word....it means they will leave....guess what, one day you will actually want them to leave. Who really wants a 40 year old living in their basement. What does that mean as parents. We have to let them learn lessons and we can't rescue them from everything. Falling on your face at 6 hurts a lot less than it does when you are 26. Let them learn and let them feel the pain of their mistakes. Let them manage their money and when they want to spend it on something well.....cheap or frivolous....let them. They will see the error of their ways and learn some really good life lessons. It sure beats being racked up in credit card debit at 25.
So really it all comes down to 4 things....oh if it were that easy. I wish it were that easy. I am glad that my friends call and ask for advice. It helps me learn new things as well. We parents have to stick together. The next time you see that perfect little family just remember their kids are kids....just like yours and mine....trust me they throw fits as well.
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