I’m not an expert at much of anything when it comes to adulthood, grown up stuff or wisdom of any kind. When it comes to parenting I managed by the basics. I loved them. I didn’t want them to be hungry. I didn’t want them to suffer. I enjoyed them being happy. I wanted them to have fun. I wanted them to know what work was and not be afraid of it. I wanted them to love reading, love music and appreciate the truly good things in life. Other than that my expertise about raising kids includes….. I was a child. I have always been around children. I continue to have children in my life. That’s pretty much the extent of it. That in no way makes me an expert. I may have experience but no way do I warrant any professional status.
I do love my children. I was always active in raising them. I tried. And I failed. And I succeeded. So I have experience. But I have no sure fire tricks to a successful parenting model.
So if I were to give them advice there is absolutely no guarantee it would be good, or even correct, advice.
But I am going to give it a shot. In the dark.
When you buy a house? Get a small one. Keep it nice. Clean. Make improvements. Don’t get more house than you need. Pay it off. Use your money for other things. A home is important. You should make where ever you are, home. What you spend on it is not important. It’s how you spend your time there that matters. Home should be a safe haven from the world. And a place that gives comfort and joy. Create traditions in your home that your children will always be able to take with them, no matter where they go.
Pay your bills. First. Always. You can’t go out to eat five times a week? Good. You shouldn’t be doing that anyway.
Eat your meals around the dinner table. Just like we use to do. And not once did I ever hear you complain about mom making you dinner, sitting down with you, and talking to you. Oh, you complained a lot. But never about being fed and sat with. Do it with your family.
You can not spoil your children by loving them. That’s nonsense. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that. Hold them as often, as much and for as long as you like. One day they will be too big to pick up and keep safely in your arms. One day they will wonder off to bed without waiting for you to tuck them in and sing them “Amazing Grace” and read them a book. You will finish dinner dishes one night, you will go look for your beautiful child who was reading a book in the living room. You will find her/him in her/his little bed. Fast asleep. You will be exhilarated that you have an extra fifteen minutes of peace. Then it will hit you. Your child didn’t need you for those few minutes of comfort. Then, you will be sad. And you will remember it forever. So do it. Love them. Hold them. No matter how much you hold them now, years from now it will not have been enough. You won’t regret it later. Trust me.
Speaking of singing. Sing to them. Your voice is comfort and love to them. Pick a song just for them. My two? You know what your songs are. And I know them. And for the rest of your lives, when you hear your song-it will be as if I am singing to you. And when I hear them? I have a flash of holding you as a plump baby and singing it to you, dancing in our living room. I say “dancing” with finger quotes high in the air. You know I can’t dance. I swayed. I sang. You loved me.
You can spoil your children with lack of discipline. None of us get everything in life. None of us need everything in life. Give them what they do need. Help them to decide what is important to want. And help them to learn the value of earning what they want.
Save a little money from every check. Five dollars? Good. Fifty? Better. One hundred? Fantastic. Little savings add up. Even if it adds up slowly. Eventually it will add up to a month’s rent or mortgage. And that adds up to comfort. Knowing you have something for troubled moments.
Don’t expect to know everything.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
You don’t need 2,158 friends on Facebook. But you do need a good friend or two to talk to. To share good times with. To hang your head low over coffee with when you’re so tired you could sleep standing up. Laugh with people you trust. Find fun in people, not things. You won’t look back and remember what you were wearing when your child walked, or your family grieved a loss, or your family celebrated triumph and success. But you will remember those who sat with you, walked with you, talked with you. You will remember those who lived part of your life with you.
If you don’t want your child to grow up speaking badly or negatively about others….don’t let them hear you speaking badly or negatively about others.
If you want love in your home, bring love in to your home. Share the love in your home. No one else can do that for you.
Every day when you come home from work, spread your hands out over a brick wall or an outside windowsill. Lie your troubles from work or life out there. You can pick them back up on your way back out the next day. Chances are you’ll find less troubles waiting for you when you go to leave again anyway. Home is where the good, the safe, the security of life and love is. Leave all of the other stuff outside your front door. (Credit for this one goes to a story I read years and years and years ago. I just don’t know where I read it.)
Love your mom. Even if she doesn’t know what she’s talking about half the time.
If you get advice from someone and you don’t know what to do with it? Take it, thank them, and put it in storage.
If it works for you, save it, and remember to share it with your child.
When they might need it.