I’ve been visiting my daughter for close to a week now, watching her interact with my two beautiful granddaughters who are eight and twelve, and I’m a little hurt she hasn’t asked for my advice on raising children. After all, I’ve raised three of them, and I think they turned out pretty darned well, though that could be in spite of how they were raised. Because I don’t want my valuable insight to be wasted, I’m going to offer it to you, dear reader. Here, then, is my philosophy on raising children:
1. Avoid it at all costs.
2. If you fail at #1, write down all the mistakes your parents made while raising you, the times they embarrassed you, butted in when it was none of their business, lectured you ad infinitum when a simple “no” would have sufficed, gave you their advice when you didn’t want it, didn’t give it to you when you needed it, spent too much time with you, didn’t spend enough time with you, over-reacted, and many other ways your parents messed up. Memorize what you wrote. No, this list isn’t so you’ll avoid making the same mistakes; it is so you’ll recognize these mistakes when you make them yourself.
3. Sit down to dinner as a family. Don’t give me the “It’s impossible with all their activities.” Find a way to share the evening meal together most days of the week. It is worth the effort.
4. Get a pet. Note: This is not to teach your children responsibility. It’s so you will always have at least one member of the family that thinks you’re terrific.
5. Don’t go to bed angry with your kids and don’t send them to school without having hard feelings resolved.
6. Keep the bottle of bleach away from your pre-teen daughter when she’s learning to wash her clothes, especially red shirts. (Don’t ask.)
7. When your teenagers can’t believe you’re their mother, offer to have a DNA test.
8. Don’t expect your children to be what you are not (i.e. organized, patient, diligent, etc.). They may be, but don’t expect it.
9. Practice keeping your mouth shut. This will be an invaluable skill when you become a grandparent.
10. No, family meetings are not a good idea.
Do the best you can because there are no do-overs in parenting. Remember the good news—this, too, shall pass. And always keep the bad news in the back of your mind—this, too, shall pass.
I wish I had really taken the time to understand my issues with my parents and how they affected the way I behaved before I started raising mine (I think that’s like your #2). #7 wouldn’t have worked, my kids were adopted, which does make things harder. I wish I had realized it was not up to me to determine the entire arc of their lives, Kahlil Gibran said “You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you, For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.” I wish I had accepted them more as they were and not been so performance oriented.
I think we all have regrets in parenting. The important thing is to take where you are now and be the best parent you can be right now. I actually was pretty lucky because we never had big issues when I was growing up. I feel I really did lead an idyllic life.
Wow! This advice is excellent. You should send this to a parenting magazine.
Except for the one about eating together or never sending your child to bed or school with hard, unresolved feelings, the rest couldn’t qualify as bona fide advice, but maybe a parenting magazine would find it humorous. Glad you enjoyed it.
Love it, love it!! #4 is a genius statement. BTW, I have two grandkids, 3 ½ and 1. My daughter doesn’t ask any advice about raising kid either. She bluntly said me that she could find everything on Internet. I do #9, not easy though…especially when you see two full-room of toys, two toy riding cars in their garage and two in the “play” room.
Oh, my, do I know about keeping my mouth shut! LOL! Thanks, Amy.
I love these!! And number 4 is a hoot. Great post!! I am so very glad I chose to give parenthood a whirl. Wouldn’t have changed a thing!
Guess I’d better go and see what #4 is! Thanks, Dawn. Can’t believe you are actually reading all of these. I didn’t expect anyone would!
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“If you have the “mentally insane gene,” best to avoid having children. If I had to do it all over again, I would have checked myself in the looney bin or a convent and lived a life of celibacy. Having kids is highly over rated.
Actually, my post was mostly tongue-in-cheek. I have thoroughly enjoyed raising my three children, and wouldn’t have had it any other way, despite the sometimes rough and painful growing-up years.
Family meetings!! I thought I handled them in a professional manner?
Hmmm…You should talk to your kids about that!
Reading your post brought tears to my eyes and put a smile on my face. After the countless hours over the past 10 years of watching your daughter interact with her daughter/daughters (depending on the year), it is soooo obvious that what she learned she learned from the best! She and I have had many many conversations about those items listed above. Usually she was giving me the advice and calming me down…. Im curious about the bleach one though – we’ll have to talk!
You are awesome and I miss you!! xoxox
Still think you and my daughter should meet in Virginia Beach. We’ll do a ton of talking. Glad my daughter does think I did a few things right! Miss you, too!