Walmart is having a contest for Mom of the Year and I've been nominated. Since my profile was posted, I've been getting a lot of great comments from various people. Here's the link:
It's humbling to see yourself as others see you. I couldn't be more grateful for the support we've gotten over the years. And as much as I blush, it's still nice to hear that my efforts have been noticed.
Sometimes when people get praised, they see themselves as frauds. They tell themselves that anyone could have done what they did. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I don't feel that way. I've worked very hard at being a good parent. It's something I was passionate about from an early age, actually, from before I was even sure I wanted children. I was probably the only teenager who read parenting articles and books who wasn't already a teen mom. I believed those who told me that being a parent was the most important job ever.
I still believe them. The responsibility frightens me sometimes. If I lash out because I'm irritated and having a bad day, the moment vanishes quickly for me but can have a lasting effect on my children. The one-sidedness of it bothers me. Trauma should affect both sides equally but life doesn't work that way.
I thought I'd take the chance to note down my basic rules of parenting that I do my best to follow:
Tell my children I love them. I think parents sometimes expect their kids to just know how much they're loved. Dr. Phil says it takes a thousand atta-boys to make up for one exasperated expression, so I like to build up my credit as much as I can.
Remember how much they have to learn. The world is a bewildering place full of all sorts of strange, arbitrary rules. Lewis Carroll used a child's perspective for his Alice books. I try and remind myself to actively teach my children what I think they should know rather than expecting them to absorb it.
Little people make mistakes even with the best of intentions. I try to praise the intention even when the results leave a lot to be desired. But I also try and make them responsible for the consequences of those results and encourage them to help clean up or fix the situation.
I'm the grown-up. It's my job to keep my temper and set the boundaries no matter the provocation. My children aren't my equals and I have to keep the parent-child distinction clear.
Plan ahead. Whether it's a bird-and-bees question or deciding how to discipline aggression, I don't think parenting works well on the spot without a plan.