Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Some Things I Would Do Differently As A Parent

I'm not saying I'm filled with regret, but now that some of my children are older, there are a lot of things I have learned.  If I could go back, these are the things I would do.

1.  I would have taught all of my kids to like water from the beginning.  Years ago we were on WIC and they give you vouchers for juice.  Of course, I would get the juice and my boys would drink it, which trained them to be turned off by water.  As they got older, I learned that doctors don't really recommend juice.  I now rarely buy it.  A couple of my kids love to drink water now.

2.  I never would have agreed to buying a game console.  They wanted to have fun things like their friends and I wanted them to have something to do in our small apartment.  We never bought the latest and greatest, but I grew to really resent the struggle over gaming time.  I worry that my boys will grow up to be husbands and fathers who neglect their family to play video games.  I can't stand that it's their number one priority and I had to make a rule that they can't play them on school days because they would rush through their homework and do a lousy job.  My oldest son became more aggressive towards his brothers after we got our console and I would ban him from it for up to a month. 

On the other hand, Saturdays are when we need to be cleaning the house, but then they want to play video games because of all the time they missed during the week.  One time my son was expecting a new game to arrive and tried not to go on a campout.  I informed him that he would not be playing the game if he stayed home.  He could go camping and play it when he got home or he could not play it at all.  It's just not worth the battle.  Avoid it if you can.

3.  I would have trained them to like healthy cereal.  I wish they would eat the healthy stuff that's high in fiber, but they won't.  Not sure how I fix that now.

4.  I would have trained them to like whole grain bread.  When I buy it, they refuse to eat it.  It's always more expensive than white bread, so when we were struggling hard financially, that's what I felt like I had to buy. 

5.  I would have insisted on making family exercise a part of our regular routine.  We did go swimming sometimes or outside to play tennis, but we had way too much TV time. 

6.  I would have worked more on etiquette.  I look at one of my older boys and think, "Oh my gosh.  Who taught you how to eat?!"  Or rather, "Who didn't tell you how to eat?"  Um, I guess me and his dad.  I didn't enjoy being nagged as a kid for my table manners, but they really are a necessary thing.  He eats like the food is going to disappear.  Well, I guess because it is!  It goes fast with four siblings.

7.  I would have prayed with them more and remind them more often to pray about their problems.  I tend to focus on helping them fix their problems when I should be teaching them how to solve them. 

8.  I would have given them more hugs and kisses when they got older.  I can do that now, but they'll think I'm weird.  It's not too late to change.  I nursed my babies for over a year and ended up feeling "touched out" to the point that I didn't want anymore cuddles.  My oldest son would ask for hugs when he got sick.  I felt bad because he needed to feel loved.  I was worried about getting sick and getting our babies sick.

9.  I would have made an organized space for all of their school papers.  I did try.  It just didn't end up happening.  With mountains up paperwork times three, there was so much information, yet I wasn't aware of a lot of things because I was overwhelmed.  Now that we have a house, that's something I can implement more easily.

10.  I would have given them more individual attention.  I was often preoccupied with my trials.  I should have put them aside for even 5 minutes a day for each child.  Other times, one child needed so much extra attention, it was hard to have time for the others.  I think the best thing I could do is to be off the phone and computer when they get home and look excited to see them. 

What would you do differently? 

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