It’s been so fun reading all of the birth stories! My most recent birth story happened to take place almost 16 years ago, which seems so long ago, however; reading all of these great stories took my right back to my very own! How unique and special each of them are!
So what happens when these little bundles of joy grow up and become teenagers? Will we look back with regret? Will there be some thing(s) we wish we would have done differently? Well let me just tell you…don’t be discouraged. Parenting is one of those things…there will be things that we feel we mastered, and other areas we may feel we have work to do. I was asked the question within the past couple of weeks, “If you could change something you have done as a mom what would it be?” I actually came up with two things rather quickly, and I would love to share them with you.
The first thing: REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. When my teenagers were tiny, I had unrealistic expectations of them. While I think it’s super important to have high expectations, I cringe at the memories of my unrealistic expectations of them. For example, a toddler in an itchy tux at a family wedding isn’t going to be able to sit through the after-dinner speeches patiently. Or the 5 year old little girl who doesn’t have “perfect” manners when guests come to visit should be taught to have good manners in this situation, but not punished when she didn’t display “perfect” manners or behavior. I think it’s important to make sure we aren’t setting ourselves and our children up for failure.
When my oldest daughter Sydney (now 17), was about 6 or 7 years old, I had been on her case A TON. We were getting ready to head out on a road trip and her behavior was a little bit “off”. Not horrible, but not “perfection”. I was nagging at her and clearly very frustrated. She was sitting in the car as we were getting ready to leave and she looked up at me with her sad, defeated eyes and said, “but mommy, I’m not perfect.” My heart broke into pieces. I grabbed her, pulled her out of the car, hugged her, and apologized telling her I wasn’t perfect either, and I had mad a mistake by losing my patience with her and for being too hard on her. My expectations were unrealistic for a child her age, and she let me know that it was taking a toll on her! This moment was eye-opening for me as I realized I had been expecting too much of my little ones.
The second: MONITOR MUSIC, READING MATERIAL, AND INTERNET. I look back over the last several years and see how my husband and I have gotten a little too relaxed when it comes to monitoring our kids music selection. This can be tough, which is why I think we got too relaxed about it. Thoughts like “oh they’re such good kids, a little hip-hop, or rap music won’t hurt them.” or “we’ll balance it out with good, like taking them to church weekly…to make up for the yucky music they’re listening to.” BAD IDEA. We have watched our teens get sucked into this music trap that “all the kids are listening to”, when we really feel like we could have done something to discourage it. Maybe not totally, but we almost just dropped all rules when it came to this. We got lazy. Some of you may be thinking, “how do you control what they listen to? That’s not possible!” Which is somewhat true. I can’t dictate what they listen to, but I can put rules into place. We can monitor their itunes accounts. We can educate them…telling them what they choose to listen to, will in fact affect their decision making and their “thought life”. “Put good things in, and good things will come out”, and vice-versa. Even for me, as an adult, I am cautious about the music I listen to, the books I read, or the websites and blogs I choose to visit…because I can be affected negatively if I am not careful.
Communicate with your teens and pre-teens. Ask them what their favorite songs are at the time, or what they’re reading. Absolutely monitor the internet…look at the history and set up parental controls if necessary. It is our job to protect what our kiddos are taking in!
While there are many more things I could list that I would have done differently, I will stop at two for today.
Enjoy your weekend!