My dad said, "I think that the best thing we did as parents..."
(I am expecting something profound, like always being supportive, saying no, expecting you to go to college...)
"...was to introduce you to movie musicals."
I am still laughing about this! But, one of my fondest memories is of my 3 siblings and parents crammed into a Ford Crown Victoria to travel 1,000 miles away to see our favorite baseball team and singing the songs to "1776" as a family.
I've told this to some of my coworkers with kids my age, and all of them say that the best things they did was spend time with their kids -- vacations, etc.
I had amazing parents. People always say that every has FOO issues, and I don't think that I do. Mine were amazing. They were accepting, fun, parents with high expectations. They weren't friends with us when we were growing up, but they are friends with all 4 of us now.
Married: 11 years, no kids
Character is destiny
Your post made me smile, and reminded me---
Always, always, always sing loudly to old tunes (whether it be musicals, or Elvis, or 70s music, or even......disco!!!) with your kids while on long car rides (or not so long).
Also some of my fondest memories with my kids .
It's cool because now DD and I have similar taste in music. We blast DMB and Jack Johnson and John Mayer and belt it out . (sorry for the t/j)
"That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt."
Start teaching when they are tiny.
Teach by example, children learn as much by what they see as what they hear.
Let them know you.
me (WW/BS): 48
4 kiddos in mid 20's
“Follow your intuition. Be smart, be brave. Tell the truth and don’t take any shit.”
This means all the boring stuff, like ironing, washing, dishes, cooking, banking, how the tax system works, credit cards.
Teach them how to manage their time.
Make them get a part time job outside of school hours it teaches them independence and money managing skills.
Don't buy everything for them. Make sure they know the value of money and time.
It's ok for kids to be bored. Don't fill up all their time with extras like a million sports etc.
Make sure they still have fun!
I also have to comment... I remember about 15 years ago my dad and I were driving to the store and a CCR song came on (Down on the Corner). We were parking, and I thought, "Man, I wish we could just sit and listen to the song." I didn't even think of asking to do that, though, since my dad was practical, and would probably say, "no, we have to go to the store..." Wouldn't you know, Dad turns to me and says, "This is a great song, do you mind if we just sit here and listen to it for a few minutes"
We sat in the parking lot, maybe for two minutes, and listened to that song. Dad died a few years later and when ever I hear a CCR song I KNOW he's with me. It took two minutes for him to leave me with a fantastic memory that I remember every time I hear a CCR song
Love you, Dad!
When your kids are talking to you - listen. Put down the dish towel. Forget the laundry.
Finally, remember that no matter how hard you try, you will mess up once in awhile. Forgive yourself and move on.
Self discipline is far more effective than imposed discipline. If children only do the right thing because they will be rewarded or fear punishment, there's little to stop them doing the right thing when there is no reward or punishment.
Of course, by teaching your children to think and that rules don't have to be obeyed, you will need to be prepared to defend your position logically and well when it comes to adolescent disagreements. Inevitably, there will come the day when you cry exasperatedly: "Because I say so!"
But if you take the time to explain the reasons for any rules to your children (whether yours or those of school and society) and discuss them, and occasionally to justify your own constraints, I believe that in challenging situations they will be more likely to make good decisions themselves. Thus they will not necessarily follow the crowd into stupidity or cruelty; will be better prepared to stand up for what is right or just, even when it is difficult to do so; will be less naive and thus better able to protect themselves from danger; and so on.
In those difficult, exploratory, teenage years, my children tended to make good decisions for themselves, for which I am very thankful.
Coincidentally, I was thinking about this philosophy in hearing the reports on the heart-rending Korean ferry disaster. The passengers were told to stay below deck. It seems that most of the children who survived were those who thought for themselves and disobeyed.
[This message edited by Cally60 at 2:49 PM, April 27th (Sunday)]
Other than that, I guess my best advice would be:
Choose your battles carefully. If the outcome won't matter 20 years from now, it probably doesn't matter now. If it will, then it does, but you don't need to win just to prove you're the parent.
Hold them very close then let them go. Protect them when they're too young to make good decisions for themselves, but gradually give them the freedom to become their own persons. Helicopter parenting isn't doing the kids any favours. They need to learn how to navigate the world.
Don't negate their feelings. Allow them to experience sadness or defeat. Let their feelings wash over them, without saying, "Don't be sad" or "It didn't matter that you didn't get that trophy" or "She wasn't worth it anyway". They have to learn to trust their own feelings. Commiserate with them, though. "I'm so sorry you feel sad" or "Honey, I'm sorry your team lost" acknowledges their feelings without negating them.
Teach them manners. You may not think they're "getting it" but they are, and it will show in time. Every time my son pulls out my chair for me, I thank myself! LOL.
Use humour to sugar-coat your parental rules. It helps the medicine go down. "Oh, go ahead. Humour the old bag" and "Because I'm bigger than you are and I can beat you up" were two of my go-to remarks when my kids questioned my requests. The latter, I should add, was a big joke because I never even once spanked my kids!
Make chores a game when they're younger. I was reminded of this on Easter weekend with my granddaughters. I asked them to pick up the straw from their Easter baskets. They ignored the request. After a few minutes, I got a couple of empty baskets and said to them, "Can you see how much straw you can collect?" Then it became a game. When they brought their baskets back (and every single bit of mess was gone from the floors!!!!), I rewarded each of them with an extra Easter egg. This is an example of what my own kids now call "sneaky Mumsy".
And above all, touch them. Human touch is therapeutic. Hug them a lot; one can NEVER have too many hugs. Smooth their hair. Rub their little backs when they're going to sleep. My daughter still sometimes asks me to rub her back when she's nodding off!
"I could have missed the pain, but I would have had to miss the dance." Garth Brooks
Encourage them to problem solve on their own. You can and should be their backup and step in if it is something too serious. But they will eventually have to deal with real life on their own and doing it with the safety net of living at home will give them invaluable experience.
Eat together when you can - at the table. This is a perfect time to teach manners, have conversation, and bond.
Go on trips together whenever you can squeeze out the money. We took car trips every 3 or 4 years and those are some of the best memories for my sons.
There is no one right way to parent. You learn as you go and you WILL make mistakes. But somehow the human race keeps going. Don't sweat the small stuff.