10 years ago today, I welcomed my first child into the world. I had always wanted to be a mother, but I had no idea how much more my children would teach me than I would teach them. Today I want to celebrate 10 years of parenting by sharing some of the parenting lessons my kids have given me so far.
10 Years of Parenting Lessons
Don’t Pursue Perfection
I struggle most as a mother when I am trying to make sure I get everything right. Trying to be perfect guarantees failure and frustration. Accepting my own imperfections helps me to be kinder, more patient with my own children, quicker to apologize when I mess up.
Consistency is one of the best parenting tools out there – from daily schedules to bedtime to determining consequences. Kids know to look for patterns, and they feel safer when they can find them.
Get to Know Your Child
How well do you know your child? What do they like? Dislike? Fear? Adore? How well do they know you? These little details enrich relationships and help both parents and children understand why and how choices are made.
Don’t Make it Personal
When kids act up, don’t take it personally. They are being kids. Don’t waste precious energy getting upset – especially when that frequently means that emotions leave parents unable to focus on parenting. Focus on what went wrong, why, and how you can help them to behave in a more appropriate way.
Find Something You Can Enjoy Together
My kids and I love making crafts and cooking together. My husband takes them to local college athletic events and laughs over YouTube shorts with them. We all enjoy traveling together. It doesn’t matter WHAT you do together; find activities that you and your kids can enjoy together.
I’m a terrible dancer, and my kids think it’s hilarious when I dance with them. Mike has a large store of “dad” jokes. Laughing together builds family connections, and being able to laugh at yourself is a great way of helping kids learn to do the same in their own lives.
When Emma was a baby, she would cry every evening – until we took her outside to walk underneath the trees in a nearby park. My older children really open up when they are walking with me or running with their dad. Nature also has a wonderful way of helping both parents and children put aside everyday cares so that wonderful memories of family time can be created.
Tell family stories – about your kids when they were younger, about yourself when you were your kids’ ages, about their grandparents. Tell inspirational stories, but also tell stories about making mistakes and surviving the mistakes. Share the experiences that made you the person you are, and help your children see the heritage that shapes your family culture.
Remember Time Flies
I have plenty of events to mark the past decade – university degrees, moves, job changes, the births of three more children. Even with these markers, the time has flown. When I interact with my children, I try to think about whether I would do things differently if I knew I only had a short amount of time left with them – because, in reality, that is the case. At age ten, Emma is already well past the halfway mark in years she is likely to live at home.
Children crave affection. If they don’t feel loved at home, they will go looking for it somewhere else. Hug your kids. Tell them you love them. Make sure they know that they are always wanted and loved, no matter what.
What has parenting taught you?