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Advice sought from parents of older kids

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Gottagetthrough posted 4/26/2014 06:31 AM

what do you wish you'd known when you had younger kids... especially about trying to craft these perfect childhoods with great memories

You hear moms give first time moms advice like, "Expensive clothes and diapers aren't worth it" and "Just cuddle and spend time with baby... don't stress over infant music classes or infant gymnastics classes"

I'd like to hear moms of teens and adults with some info for me (mom of elementary age kids)

[This message edited by Gottagetthrough at 6:35 AM, April 26th (Saturday)]

rachelc posted 4/26/2014 07:10 AM

we always took our kids on nature vacations - Alaska, remote places in the Caribbean - we never did Disney.

I wished we would have not had them in traveling sports but went on summer lake vacations where they didn't have to show up and perform.

Many times we had Holidays with just the 6 of us and I refused to have other family visit or go anywhere to visit relatives. That was priceless to us as we were always so busy, this was our time together.

Never have electronics in the car - just books.

1 hour of TV a day. And they had to negotiate between them what it would be.

Kid of the week - every week one kid got to run special errands with Mom or Dad, sit in the front seat - anytime there was a situation where we could only pick one kid it was the "kid of the week."

Holly-Isis posted 4/26/2014 07:34 AM

Keep the TV and electronic time to a minimum. I see so many people, MrH included, just handing their phones to bored kids. They don't learn how to entertain themselves or interact with people.

It's a small thing. But serve lots of water as a drink. My kids really don't drink soda or even juice. Our preferred drink is water. It's healthier and makes life easier. I wish I had done the same with food, especially for DS. I fell for the pediatrician telling me he needed to fatten up and to feed him fries. Now that's what he prefers...greasy foods. DD eats fruits and veggies first for the most part.

Teach them manners. Yes, it feels good when people tell me how well behaved and what nice manners my kids have compared to other kids, but my kids feel good about it too. In fact, I have to tell them not to hold the door open for people still in the parking lot...just the ones nearby! It will serve them well as they get older and their peers don't have the same skills they do.

Memorization. DD is the only one that has that experience in her schooling and I see such a difference. Her school has the younger kids memorize character traits, scripture and poems. She loves the challenge and I see it in her schoolwork. It's making academics so much easier for her. I wish I had done that for DS when we homeschooled. Heck, I wish I had that skill.

I'm not a perfect mom, but I have no regrets for all the time I spent holding (or wearing) our babies. We co-slept too. Our kids always felt loved and safe, even when things in our family were in a turmoil. There were those that told me the kids would be maladjusted. They're not. They are self sufficient. The biggest problems are DS and his academics, DD not cleaning up after herself.

I would say just understand their stages. What are their needs and what are their wants. Meet their needs...such as the cuddles when they are younger. They need that to feel secure and loved.

metamorphisis posted 4/26/2014 07:42 AM

Talk. Talk openly, and often, about things that are uncomfortable. If you establish that rapport now while it's easier, it will carry you a long long way when they are teenagers.

inconnu posted 4/26/2014 07:54 AM

spend time with your kids

don't be afraid to goofy and silly sometimes

admit when you're wrong, and apologize

admit when you don't know something, then find out the answers together

teach your kids how to follow a recipe. Some of the best advice I gave my kids "if you want to eat well, learn to cook." DS22 now does as much cooking, if not more because he has more time, than I do. He rarely tries a "bad" recipe.

help them pursue a passion. if they're really interested in learning about something, even if it's something you know nothing about, support them. buy books or supplies. find lessons. show them that it's okay to pursue their dreams.

don't care if the house gets messy, but teach your kids to clean up after themselves. don't worry if it's not perfectly clean.

answer questions. ask questions that need more than a yes or no answer.

know who their friends are.

unfound posted 4/26/2014 08:03 AM

Talk. Talk openly, and often, about things that are uncomfortable.


teach them how to lose and fail as gracefully as they win and succeed.

read any and everything they can get their hands on. read TO them, let them see you reading.

be realistic with them about life in general. being prepared for real life and allowing them to experience it gives them the tools to do it on their own when the grow up.

teach and expose them to a variety of cultures, socioeconomic places and people. life isn't just the street you live on.

volunteer in your community with them.

I actually asked DD (24) what she wished I would have done differently when she was coming up.... one big one she said was:

organization. Learn it, be it, live it. She had to come by it the hard way and wished I would have pushed her to be more organized when she was younger.

[This message edited by unfound at 8:04 AM, April 26th (Saturday)]

Tripletrouble posted 4/26/2014 08:23 AM

I was emphatic about family dinner. To me it was more important than sports, friends, anything. Five or six nights a week we sat at the table as a family and discussed our day, current events, what they were studying in school, etc. It allowed us to stay very dialed in to what was going on with our kids. It also gave us an opportunity to arouse their interest in the world around them and help them develop their own opinions. I think family dinner is one of the things we really got right as parents.

We also had a rule no one could leave the table without being excused, and no one was ever left stranded while still eating.

Holly-Isis posted 4/26/2014 08:40 AM

Can I erase my verbose answer and just ditto Meta?

Kajem posted 4/26/2014 08:43 AM


Get them involved in some sort of team activity! Sports, band, odyssey of the mind competition... Something where the learn to work and trust others to do their job, and the inevitable mistakes that happen.

Talk about everything with them, even the uncomfortable stuff.

Treat them with respect, they learn it from you. They will learn to respect themselves too.

Hugs are great for high schoolers- make them quick and run away I had DDs friends forming lines behind her wanting hugs! (All 4 DDs) she'd go all "mo-om" on me and the 'adopted' kids would be "mom". Lol no one is to big for a hug!

Know their friends, keep your pantry stocked and they'll find your house.

I loved each 'stage' my kids hit. I especially love the one their in now ( I said that about all of the stages, and I mean(t) it). They are young adults in college (1 graduated last year) I'm enjoying hearing their plans, adventures, and watching them grow.

Enjoy them! Best advice I ever got.

ThisHell posted 4/26/2014 08:58 AM

What a great topic! I have younger kids. Oldest DS is 12, so this is priceless advice. I will say for me, the biggest STRUGGLE is motivating an ADHD kid with a very negative attitude about the value of school to care about it! He's super brilliant and recent meds have helped, but is smart to the point that he gets things and wants to move on much quicker than they actually do.

I will say, I totally second the talk openly. Especially with boys. I always have and I can see in him especially that he is completely comfortable allowing me to "see" his friendships and relationships and has no problem talking to me about life, stress, whatever...

The other day he and a friend were facetiming this little girl who is a friend from school. I think she has a crush on my son. They talked in the backseat of the car for 40 minutes with her and at one point I hear him ask her to repeat something funny she asked her mom as a little girl (it was, when will I grow a penis ) and she was embarrassed to say because she knew I was there and told him that. He responded with, "oh, lol, its fine! My mom's totally cool". His friends also seem to talk to me about stuff that's going on and I try to give them some good motherly advice... usually followed with, "you should really sit down and talk with mom/dad about how you are feeling", but I like that I "know" who my kids are hanging with...

gardenparty posted 4/26/2014 09:37 AM

I go along with the family dinner every night. I think it is very important that kids learn how to converse around a table, learn good manners and I was always amazed at how much information my girls shared around the dinner table. Teach them to budget but allow them to make choices within that budget. School clothes shopping was way easier when the girls knew exactly how much money they had to spend and what they were expected to get with that money. Give them household chores. Far too many young people have no idea how to manage a household when they leave home. I found 12 to 17 the busiest of my life with my children truthfully. They were encouraged strongly to volunteer at something in the community which they both still do to this day. That broadens the base of people that they will interact with beyond school friends. Enjoy the time with them. I still can't believe that my girls are 26 and 24.

rachelc posted 4/26/2014 09:48 AM

Another thing that worked for us- we told them in first grade that they'd have to pay for half their college expenses.
So they went through the years knowing and planning and saving.
DS1- joined active army for three years, now using GI bill
DD1 and 2 - athletic scholarships
DS2 - first two years at community college

his#1 posted 4/26/2014 10:08 AM

The thing that did wonders for my kids was the art bin.

I took a big plastic bin and filled it with paper, fun shaped scissors (deckle edge, scalloped edge, etc..) glue, tape, crayons, paint, glitter, air dry clay, sequins, markers, you name it, it was in there.

On rainy days, or "nothing to do" days, we'd pull out that bin and the things that came from it are amazing!

We also had the little plastic jugs that held marbles. Each time one of the kids completed a chore, or was caught being good, they would get a marble (or two depending on the chore) and at the end of the week, I exchanged the marbles for quarters. This worked VERY well for my son who has ADHD/bipolar disorder. He would get the instant gratification he needed and also still have something to work towards.

By the same token, if they were caught doing something they weren't supposed to, they lost a marble.

Those two things are the things the kids still talk about and have said they will use with their own kids one day.

*I* loved the family days spent at the park, or camping. The kids did, too. They still will hear a song and say, "Oh that reminds me of driving down to see Mawmaw and Pawpaw."

Sad in AZ posted 4/26/2014 10:10 AM

Very seriously: Don't sweat the small stuff. Whenever something pushes one of your buttons, stop and ask yourself, "Is this the hill I want to die on?"

Enjoy them for who they are. Don't try to mold them into 'mini-mes'. Foster their interests, even if it's something you couldn't care less about.

Perfect the art of active nonlistening DS loved (and still loves) technology that I could only barely fathom. When he'd launch into an enthusiastic description of something he was into, I had to learn to nod in the right places, ask salient (but somewhat vague ) questions and just be present.

Never let them see you sweat. When things are going sideways, act like it's normal. Don't ever apologize for not giving them a fabulous life--it is what it is.

DO apologize when you're wrong. If you blow up over something that turns out to be not what you thought it was, say your sorry. Don't grovel, but do be sincere.

One more thing: Don't be too quick to 'save' them from difficult situations. They have to learn to get along with all kinds of people in the world. So, if they don't like a teacher--or the teacher doesn't like them--don't request a change unless the child is in physical or emotional danger. This is a great life skill to learn.

[This message edited by Sad in AZ at 10:18 AM, April 26th (Saturday)]

Holly-Isis posted 4/26/2014 10:42 AM

Another thing that worked for us- we told them in first grade that they'd have to pay for half their college expenses.

This reminds me. Know your kid. We know there's no cookie cutter approach but sometimes as a parent it's easier to fall into that habit.

With my kids...telling them they have to pay for half of college here's what would happen:

DS- shrug, say fine, I'll just not go to college. Yup, he's had that attitude since first grade.

DD- she's already saving all her birthday and Christmas money to do three things with it: donate to an orphanage, buy a horse and pay for her college. She's 9yo and has been doing this for at least two years. She's stressed about paying for college when we tell her to go ahead and buy herself a treat. So I've told her we will work it out and her education shouldn't be a burden to her...even in worrying about us.

Caveat- I'm not saying that the quoted above is bad advice. It's very good advice. As a child, it would've helped me to understand my parents actually expected me to have a future. As a teen, it would've helped me have goals. Instead I was told how much I failed their expectations and how my dreams were unattainable. So if your kid isn't like either of mine, it's excellent advice. I just pulled it out to share my own- know your kid and what drives them.

One more thing: Don't be too quick to 'save' them from difficult situations.

That's good advice. My kids' guidance counselor had a course she taught based on Love and Logic. Basically, the parents would guide the kids in coming up with their own solutions.

[This message edited by Holly-Isis at 10:46 AM, April 26th (Saturday)]

Lionne posted 4/26/2014 11:15 AM


All kids should have the chance to learn an instrument. Countries that do this have virtually NO illiteracy. If they play in a group they learn listening skills, teamwork, and the satisfaction of creating something beautiful together.

Expose them to many types of music rock, country,classical. Sing with them. The voice is an instrument, too.

Tearsoflove posted 4/26/2014 11:43 AM

My children are all adults. What I learned was that time spent together is more important than money spent and gifts. My mother-in-law was fairly well off. She gave my kids money, bought them things, had a Christmas that filled the living room. My mother bought cheap gifts and we spent visits sitting in her smoke filled apartment watching tv with little conversation. My father and stepmother rarely ever gave them a gift (I'm not kidding- they don't do gifts) but spent a lot of time with them doing things they wouldn't have done otherwise. My kids couldn't wait to go see "Papa" and hated going to either Grandma's house. To this day, my kids will drop whatever they are doing if Papa is coming to visit or will make time to go with us if we are going to see him.

Some of the things that happened at Papa's house:

1. Baking- My stepmother baked with them. My father made homemade pizzas with them or taught them to make old family recipes.
2. Gardening- My stepmother loves to garden and let them help.
3. Unusual outdoor activities- My father loves tractors and stuff like that and there usually is at least a tractor ride when we visit.
4. Fires- My dad keeps a burn pit and we usually sit around the fire laughing and talking into the late night.
5. Music- My dad plays guitar, gave my son a guitar, and we all listen to them play and sing together.
6. Stories- We have always talked a lot. When I was a kid, sometimes we would stay up until 2 or 3am just talking and listening to Dad tell stories from childhood. He does the same with my kids.
7. Taking time out for the interesting and new stuff- My dad would pull the car over if he saw something he thought we'd be interested in (or he was).

My mother and mother-in-law couldn't understand why the kids didn't really warm up to them and didn't want to spend time at their house. There was a lot of jealousy over the amount of time spent with my father and stepmother. My kids didn't want to go sit and watch TV- they could do that at home and when they got to be teenagers, there were a lot of other more fun things they could be doing with friends. Not only did my kids change plans with friends for my father and stepmother but their friends often came with us or showed up at our house if they were here.

So, I guess what I took from that is to talk with them, laugh with them, and make time for the interesting stuff. At least once a month, try to do something new that they wouldn't normally do (plant a garden, bake something unusual, get out some paints and do a group project without caring about perfection). If you see something cool on the side of the road and you aren't on a schedule, pull over and check it out. Tell them stories from your childhood and tell them stories from their childhood. Turn on the music and sing and dance. I never had the same issues with my teenagers that a lot of other mom's I knew had. Maybe it's because I paid attention to the lessons I learned from my father and stepmother.

Oh, and one more thing. Earth, Wind, & Fire. We listened to Earth, Wind, & Fire every morning and if I didn't turn it on, my kids asked for "that 70's music". You can't have a bad day if you start it out with Earth, Wind, & Fire.

[This message edited by Tearsoflove at 11:48 AM, April 26th (Saturday)]

k94ever posted 4/26/2014 11:51 AM

Teach them how to have fun.


Dreamboat posted 4/26/2014 11:52 AM

Expose them to as many different activities as possible, but don't over schedule. Music, art, dance, sports, etc. Let them try a lot of different things and they will find their passion.

Instill good homework habits at a young age. I HATE homework, especially the busy work, but it is a reality and if kids do not do the homework it can really hurt their grades. Instill the habits when they are young and it will pay off when they are in HS.

authenticnow posted 4/26/2014 12:01 PM

As they grow, realize that they may not fit into the mold of what you think they ought to be like. Always make them feel accepted for who they are and don't expect the kid to be like you are, or what you thought your kid would be like. Let them feel loved and accepted for who they are.

Also, don't react to every situation as it's happening. Take a breather, process, and then act if necessary. hard as it is you have to let go sometimes, let them fail, let them take risks. My daughter once said to me that she felt like we thought she was dumb and incapable because we were so protective and smothering. What we thought was a loving message was really telling our daughter was that she was incapable and we had no faith in her. (I wrote her a long letter of apology for that one!)

Mostly, enjoy the moments because they really fly by quickly!

Just thought of something else. From when they were very young I always had my kids volunteer. We'd deliver meals to seniors on the holidays, visit with them, work at a program for developmentally delayed adults. I feel like it helped them develop a lot of compassion and humility. They know there are people out there whose worlds aren't as easy or full as theirs, that people struggle, get lonely, and are hungry at times. I am always proud of the compassion that my kids show to others who aren't as blessed as they are and I really feel like their exposure to this at a young age helped foster that.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 12:08 PM, April 26th (Saturday)]

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