Raising children is the toughest job you'll ever love. But how to know if you're doing it right? Mighty Mommy Cheryl Butler shares 4 strategies for winning parenthood.
Strategy #3: Be a Positive Role Model
Not only do kids crave boundaries, as I pointed out earlier, they do something else equally well—they’re succulent little sponges!
We think our little cherubs are quietly playing with their favorite toy, but in fact they're watching our every move.
One of the biggest gifts you can give your children is to be a positive role model for them. In 6 Ways to Deal with a Complaining Child I offer role modeling as a solution for whining, “Remember that you always have an audience when your kids are in your presence (or within earshot of you!). We’re human so we’re going to get irritated and feel the need to whine and complain ourselves from time to time, but just as soon as it happens and you catch yourself, stop and apologize in front of your kids.”
I find that modeling appropriate, respectful behavior works much better than telling my kids what to do.
Another example is from my episode 5 Bad Parenting Habits to Let Go of Now. Just as our kids observe what we do, they also don’t miss a beat when it comes to listening to what we say. One of my favorite, cringe-worthy memories is when my then 8-year-old son attended a school conference with me to help decide on his placement for the following year. He was my first speech-delayed child so most of my learning curve in the special education process fell on him.
As I recounted in that episode, we had two choices for teachers who had tremendously different teaching styles. I was completely prepared to give my perspective on which classroom I thought he would best thrive in, but my son beat me to the punch: “There’s no way you’re putting me in Mrs. Smith’s class! She’s a real witch and the year will be a disaster!” Out of the mouths of babes—and one with a speech delay nonetheless. Although that teachable moment was a good 15 years ago, I still remember how mortified I felt because it was obvious my son was parroting what I said mindlessly while he was in earshot.
Since then, I always make it a priority to choose my actions and words carefully since you never know when little ears are listening.
Strategy #4: Eat Up the Ordinary
During all the years I longed for motherhood, I envisioned the “glory” moments that would accompany my dream—the milestones, the firsts. What I didn't consider was all the mundane day-to-day moments that make up the largest part of a parenting journey. The mornings scrambling to put my daughters' hair in ponytails and watching them board the bus; the hours I spent in the car shuttling my kids back and forth to practices and pediatrician appointments, those ordinary times were the most formative.
Many of my children are in college now and living under their own roofs, making their own decisions as young adults. I believe this is the ultimate goal of parenting, to raise independent and productive members of society. And when I think back to all those years raising them, it's the little ordinary moments that shine brightest. So eat up those yummy basics of day-to-day life and be mindful of how fleeting they are.
How do you bring the best to your parenting game?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.
One of my favorite parts of being the Mighty Mommy at QDT is interacting with you—the listener of this podcast. I want to make this show the best it can be, and you can help me do that by taking a short listener survey. It’s a quick way to let me know what you like about the show and what I can do to improve. Find the survey at this link. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer this short but very helpful survey.