Sitting on a 8 hour flight to Paris, sans my children, the metaphorical pun intended phrase hit me; Part of teaching your kids to fly, is really to fly yourself. I do not mean this so much in the literal sense but rather that our children run off of not what we say as much as what we do. And if our actions, even if they know we’re approached with anger, fear, or extreme elation, were still acted upon with a sense of security in insecurity, it becomes a visual, they will retain as a part of the building blocks to use in their times of indecisiveness, confusion, and maybe emotional disarray during life and changes. Children learn more by repeating the actions of those around them then they do by the words that are said. It is quite simple in example as telling my child I love her, and then getting angered and hitting her. What did she take from that? She took “when angry hit” and “love is physically mean.” I am not saying swatting a child is wrong in total, because I do believe that at times it is beneficial, however when it is contradictory to your words, it sticks more than the words alone.
As humans, adult and child alike, we have choices. Choices to love, to hate, to hit, to hug, to hold grudges or to let go, to trust and be trusted, and to forgive and be forgiven. No one else makes your decision for you. And children rely on this example and the consequences of them, from those they trust. It can be as simple as running with scissors or not, or as complex as a dealing with an emotional trauma (i.e. death, divorce, etc.) correctly and with long term resilience.
My favorite thing as a mother is seeing this in action. I have made my fair share of mistakes, especially in my youth, but I blame no one for my decisions as they were mine alone. Could I have been more mature, more informed, more patient, of course. But what I have learned through the experience and through the researched knowledge it lead to, is irreplaceable. And more importantly, I know now that I cannot control others or the way they will react, and I have to give them respect and time to process the way they know how to, as I would expect that they would grant me if I was in their shoes.
Here are the top ten things I have learned as a parent, that once was a child:
- As a parent you can and do make mistakes. What you do after them determines what kind of parent and more importantly the example of person you are for your children.
- As a parent you have dreams for your kids, but do not strangle their dreams by your expectations.
- As a parent, there is a fine line between control and discipline. Each child lines are different as their shape; color with in them and they will brighten and flourish, color outside of them and they will be empty and trapped in a mold they did not create.
- As a parent, learn to let go. Pick your battles, and realize although you would have preferred their natural hair color to the current rainbow, experiments in individuality regarding clothes, hair make up etc. does not make them a bad person, what it is, is them trying to find their place in a world of 6 billion people while safely under your realm.
- Even as a parent, respect is earned, not granted. A child, especially venturing in to adulthood, needs to be treated with respect in order to replicate and show respect and be willing to communicate with you, the parent. Lead by example. Show them what respect is, communicate it and its importance, and you will find a lesser burden of conflict on your both, even if the answer remains “no.”
- As a parent, as scary as it is to let your babies become adults and go off in the world alone, believe in yourself that you have put the best that you were able, in to them, and know that although they will make mistakes, encounter hardships, and experience things you many never have, it is ok. Be there for them, be happy for them when they are happy, express concerns if you have them, but do not berate them as they are still a child under your roof.
- As a parent, do not ever be afraid to say you are sorry to your child when you mess up. From small child on to adulthood. This example set for your children will go on to serve them well, that you are human, you are considerate, empathetic, sympathetic, and secure enough to admit fault and respectful enough to ask for forgiveness.
- As a parent, casting judgment is a terrible thing. So is comparing siblings, crap talking others, and thinking you are better than others for futile reasons. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Comparing people on the outside, without knowing beyond the surface, assuming things, to cast judgment upon without knowing someone is the most disrespectful thing you can show your children, teaching them a person is not worth getting to know-you can and they can be hated just by being there.
- As a parent, generational gaps are like being caught in the past, trying to relive something or holding on to something that is now gone. Learning to live in the present, while planning for the future is uplifting; it is freeing, and encourages development of your soul and mind to new thinks. In life you should go to death learning something new every day. That should not stop when you hit adulthood because that is how we did it or how things were “back then.” It also helps you understand the world your children live in- especially when it comes to social norms and media exposures.
- As a parent, love your children for who they are. You do not always have to like them, but make sure they always know you love them. They did not ask to be here and born to you. They were born with certain genetic make-up and your nurture made them who they are and continue to be. IF you don’t like them when they are an adult, chances are, you are a good chunk to blame. Talk about guilt! Talk about pressure! They may not be what you dreamed, but if they are happy with their life, be happy for them. It is not your life, it is theirs. You don’t know what they need to be happy, they do. They should do what makes them happy, not what makes others happy for them.
Actions speak louder than words, but too, you can’t take something back once you say it, treat others as you want to be treated, even if that means shutting down and walking away without defending yourself or thoughts. Not adding fuel to the flames can in fact also allow you to develop empathy and compassion-two things that are not about the “me” but about the “us” in any relationship. I like to think of this as forward thinking in the heat of battle. You may be hurt or mad at someone, but attacking them back will only make the burden of repair harder in the end. Live and let live, let the sides determine themselves, because they always do, and I would rather be the one talked poorly about than the one doing the talking as though I had something to prove.
I tell my kids regularly, it is my job to help you spread your wings safely as you grow.
So fly safe, and don’t let things head south for winter….
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Until next time,
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