I’m not the best Mama on the planet. I don’t greet my kids at the door with a batch of cookies after they come home from school. I’m not a very good Florence Nightingale when they’re suffering colds or flus. I’m less Jane Wyatt and more Sharon Osbourne. I know that might make the Stepford Mom cringe, but give me a chance. Cookies and laundry notwithstanding, I do give my children endless love and respect.
Currently, my kids are aged 21, 14, 10, and 8. They are awesome human beings and have brought so much joy to my sometimes difficult life. With big age gaps between the older kids, I’ve often had to stretch my abilities as a parent to mother a full-grown adult, a teenager, and two pre-teens. Further “complicating” matters is the fact that each of my children has his or her own personality.
Over the years, I’ve learned from my own mistakes…and the mistakes of other parents. Countless times my heart ached when I saw a parent berating her child or when I witnessed one child being favored over another. Thankfully, I’ve also been blessed to witness the Love Story between a parent and child that warmed my heart and opened my mind to how I should treat my own children.
I’m not a child psychologist…I’m just a mama who grasped early on that to show my children the love they deserve, I had to be humble. Growing up in a household where one was encouraged to be “seen and not heard” did nothing for me as I grew up. Well, that’s not true. It hurt me and it hurt a lot. I vowed to show my own children the love and respect I craved from my own childhood. How do I do this? Here are a few ways:
Be humble enough to apologize. This isn’t easy, but I want my children to know that I respect them enough to say, “I’m sorry” when I’ve crossed some kind of line or did something out of turn.
Meet them at their level. Don’t be too proud to bang on pots with your toddler or have a tea party with your little girls. Want to connect and don’t know how? It never hurts to check the web for ideas. And don’t only invite your kids to do what you want to do: figure out what they’re into and ask if you can join. You can also start a new hobby together.
Be guided by your love for them. Sometimes, you have to be the Good Cop and the Bad Cop. When your love for your kids is front-and-center, chances are you’ll be guided to nurture and raise them in the way they need to grow up feeling loved.
Being a parent is hard…but so is being a kid. The best way to navigate parenthood is to lead by example. Be the parent you wish you had, the parent you want your kids to grow up to be. Shower your kids with love and respect and they’ll pay it forward.
CJ Heath is a mama of four. She loves her kids with all her heart. She tries to let go of her parenting mistakes as easily as she forgives her children’s mistakes. She knows that being a kid and a parent is hard but when we’re guided by love, everything works out in the end.