“I am not your friend, I am your Mother!”
Have you ever said these words to your child? They are frequently stated at my house. That is the deal. I am the Mom and husband is the Dad. No compromising on the stated truth. As for the little people in our home, they understand that we do a great many things for them. We love them unconditionally, we provide for them, we kiss their boo-boos and calm their fears, we let them crawl in bed and snuggle during a thunderstorm. We listen to their trials and congratulate them on their achievements, we encourage them to do their best and never give up, we let them fail so they can learn from it, though we are around to dust them off a bit. We ask questions so they can learn to think it out for themselves, we teach them the importance of love, respect, family and God. We set boundaries and provide consequences. We expect them to do their part as dwellers in our home, for one day they will be on their own and have to do for themselves. We are parents.
Call me crazy! but I believe children should use manners and do chores. Manners encourage civility and respect. You get what you give. Chores teach responsibility, self-respect for a job well done and accountability. We do NOT buy them everything. However, they can earn things (within the realm of reason and age appropriateness). My son bought his first toy with his own money at age 3. He cherished it and took care of it and was heartbroken when it broke. It taught him value and he had pride in what he had earned. He still saves to purchase his “wants” and consistently offers to do “extra work” to earn money from anyone willing to pay him a few bucks. His understanding of value was displayed this week when he severely soiled his socks in red clay, he offered up to pay for them understanding that he should not have been wearing those particular socks in that particular mud puddle. (I let him off the hook for being accountable for his choices).
We teach them gratitude. They must be thankful for their blessings; the food on the table, the shelter of their home, a warm bed and clean clothes. We teach them charity for those who may be struggling in their own life. We teach them to pray.
We are constantly looking for teachable moments. Whether it is the behavior of someone on tv or in a movie, the laws of physics in relation to a locomotive or showing them the beauty of planting in the garden. We show them life around them and how to be a part of it.
Sometimes, being a parent is tough. We have to scold, warn and discipline. We have to carry through on our threats, we have to say what we mean and mean what we say. And do it all firmly enough to teach and gently enough to learn. It is a great parenting art to help a child grow while setting their boundaries.
There are times as a parent we are angry, sad, frustrated and exasperated. That is part of the program. Sometimes we cry. Most of the time we laugh. There is no “Easy” button in this arrangement. It is a full-time position. It is demanding and rewarding.
As parents, we have the amazing gift of raising people. We are not raising children. We are providing life skills to two incredible human beings who were a gift to us. We are their caretakers in their formative years. We are their teachers and role models. Children learn what they live. They do as we do, they say what we say, they eat what we eat, they take care of themselves as we care for ourselves, they treat others as we treat others. They learn from us. We take this responsibility to our core as parents.
While in time we may grow as friends, we will never stop being a parent. The worry will never cease, the love will never falter and the joy in them will never fail. It is unconditional.
Thank you to my parents for parenting me.