Everything I Know About Raising Children

There are things on my mind this morning that I can’t say.  My life has always been an open book, but these thoughts come from pages that just can’t be read by everyone.  It’s a hard choice when you are blogging, and are a naturally open person, deciding how much to reveal.  It’s taken me a pretty good chunk of life to be wiser about those decisions.  Suffice it to say, there are things on my mind that I can’t push aside, and they are affecting my attention and my actions.

 

Everything I know about raising children, I learned from my sisters.  I don’t know if I can fit it all into one post, but I’ll try.  Please excuse the listing, but it helps my brain stay organized.  (Ha!)  Just a bit of  background:  I was the last of six daughters to become a mother.  My daughter’s closest cousin is three years older than her, and her eldest cousin is 24 years older.  Because of the wide age span among the sisters, I was able to see some of my nieces and nephews raised to adulthood before I was a mother.  Indeed, my eldest niece and nephew had their children at the same time as I did.  So, I not only saw my sisters’ techniques in action, I was able to see the long-lasting affects of their choices, the finished products, if you will.  That has given me a list of both do’s and don’ts. 

1.  Speak quietly.  My parents come from the “spare the rod and spoil the child” generation, and children were there to be controlled and yelled at.  When I first observed sisters 4 and 6 with their children, I was shocked to see what they accomplished with a soft voice.  Moreover, the peaceful atmosphere in their houses was enviable. 

2.  Don’t hit your children.  Controlling a child’s behavior by fear (a perfectly acceptable concept in earlier generations) doesn’t achieve the desired effect; it teaches them that the biggest, most powerful person always wins, and to not get caught.  No wonder that big, powerful teens sometimes turn the tables.  Research is starting to bear this out, by the way.  I raised a perfectly good 20 year old on one spanking.  Another story.

3.  Expect the best from your child.  Okay, we learned this from our parents.  Their expectations from us were formed by their knowledge of our capabilities.  The child who had real problems with math concepts was not expected to bring home an A; the child who learned readily was expected to bring home all A’s. 

4.  Don’t just talk about loving your children- show it.  Hard lesson.   Yelling I-Love-You-This-Hurts-Me-More-Than-You, punctuated by lashes of the belt, doesn’t get that message across.  Generosity with your time and attention, physical affection, letting your child know they are a valuable family member and you enjoy being around them…that says love. 

5.  If you are a parent, grow up.  Being a parent means your child’s welfare and best interest comes first.  Period.  You may not  use drugs, quit your job precipitously, fail to bring home groceries, stay out late without making adequate provisions for your child, choose to buy porn instead of children’s books, expect the school to take care of your child’s fever or sprained ankle.   You may not allow your child to take care of you.  You will be a parent every day. 

6.  Set an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance in your household.  How do you expect your child to interact with the rest of the world?  Do you want them to consider other people as inferior?  Do you want your child to judge them based on their race or gender or sexual orientation?  Do you want your child to be able to peacefully co-exist with their classmates and co-workers?  Then they have to learn that at home.  Stop with the racial slurs and stereotyping and blonde jokes.  Invite people of all backgrounds into your life so that your children see them up close and know them as individual human beings.  Take your child out of your neighborhood and out of your comfort zone. 

7.  Get medical care for your child.  Don’t let your own discomfort with needles or dental work prevent you from following public health guidelines.  Don’t make your child a victim of the latest fad, such as not getting immunizations because you fear autism.  Let your child see you having discussions with the health care provider about care.  Help your child to know what things are emergencies and what things can be handled at home with a kiss and a Band-aid.  Be an example by getting proper care for yourself. 

8.  Expose your child to new foods.  Cook and buy variety.  It is a handicap to go into society with limited likes and a reluctance to try new things. 

9.  Don’t stay in abusive relationships.  It has been proven again and again that witnessing abuse, even if you are not the target of it, produces lifelong changes in behavior, including  increasing the likelihood that your child will grow up to become either a victim or a perpetrator.   

10.  Let the youngest child capable of a task be the one to perform it.  This makes the younger children learn and grow and feel valuable.  It lets the older child know that you appreciate her greater knowledge and ability.

11.  Listen to your child.  They have important things to say.  They need to run their thoughts and experiences by you.  Your voice is not the only important one in the home.

12.  Listen to objective voices.  If family members or teachers are saying they notice traits that are a problem, don’t let your love for your child send you into denial.  Investigate.  Get professional evaluations.  Don’t deprive your child from being all he can just because you don’t want to face the truth.

13.  No–No 13!  This is enough for one day.  Take a break.  I don’t have to write like the house is on fire.  I’m going to live a long time. 

Peace.

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2 Responses

  1. A wonderful, necessary list! And you know, of course, that they are really just plain old common sense. It’s a shame that most of us don’t use it.

    Did you revel in the day yesterday? I did!

  2. Very nice. All new parents should read this, then read it again. Maybe even post it on the fridge as a reminder. I learned a long time ago that hitting my child taught them when they don’t like something someone did they should hit. I saw a flaw in that. And my children do far better in a quiet house with lots of laughter as opposed to yelling and constant criticism. Nice post.

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