Thursday, September 27, 2012

10 Parenting Principles I Wish I'd Known: Main List

I figure that it is about time that I create a main list for my series on parenting principles that I wish I had known before becoming a parent. I've been slowly adding to the series as the mood strikes me, mostly when some experience or thought crosses my mind and I realize it belongs on the list.

Although I am not quite done with the series, I really need a main list. Mostly to remind myself about how many I've written and what I've discussed. See? Mom-Brain strikes again. When I did Episode Eight, I honestly had to go through the archives to remember how many posts I'd already completed and to make sure I had not already discussed the topic in some way.

So this will be the centralized list for the series with a link to each post and a brief except from each. Enjoy!

10 Parenting Principles I Wish I'd Known

1) Don't Wait Until You're Knocked Up to Learn About Pregnancy

"Doing this will cause a ripple affect, making it so much easier as you go through the actual pregnancy. You will be better equipped to go through the pregnancy if you already know as much as you can beforehand.

Do your own research. Find some books or medical studies. Go ahead and sign up for a perinatal class.... So find a class that focuses on the ENTIRE experience in depth: pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. In today's modern world, the resources are really limitless. Books, perinatal classes that meet, online perinatal classes, methods of education that are self-based with workbooks and CDs or DVDs, etc. If you do some basic education before your first pregnancy, the experience will not be as "unknown" and you will not feel overwhelmed by trying to cram all that research into a few months to make your birthing decisions."

2) Grow a Thick Skin. And Moisturize It.

"When I became a mother, I was nervous. I was scared. I was insecure in my decisions. Sometimes I did whatever someone advised me to do because "it's the way I did it," without doing any real research or making the decision on my own. But I have been told by many that I did not behave like I felt. I apparently exuded confidence...who knew?! When Sassy was small, I did not know how to react to people who were overstepping the invisible "respect my choices" line in the sand. I was sometimes left speechless, sometimes felt like crying (and sometimes did as soon as I was alone), and sometimes so angry I wanted to strangle someone. But I wasn't sure of how to react to the person that was overstepping.

But I found the answer as I began to "own" my role as a mother: grow a thick skin. Then moisturize it with whatever tools you find most helpful."

3) You Will Feel a Wide Range of Emotions. At The Same Time.

"It took me a while to really understand that my emotions were NOT out of whack. I was not suffering from crazy emotional mood swings. What I had was much more serious. My very being was growing, developing so that it could FEEL MORE.

And I had already felt the emotions that humans experience before my children were born, so it was not like I was discovering new emotions just because I was growing a little tiny person. But I was experiencing those emotions in a depth that I had never felt before, so strong that they were overwhelming, and often with little "down time" before feeling the next wave of emotion crash over me.

Now. To read everything I just wrote, I think I sound a little like a nutcase. Seriously. I promise that I do not spend my days sitting and analyzing every emotion I feel towards my children. They are not statues. They tend to move around. A lot. So I do a lot of chasing and running around. Which does not leave a lot of time for me to sit and ponder every emotion that pops up."

4) Frustrations Transform to Teachable Moments

"Now, before I had kids, my frustrations were easy to deal with. I might let a nice audible sigh go, roll my eyes, or vent to the nearest person about how ridiculous whatever it was that was the source of my frustration.

Want to know what happens when you do that when you have kids?
Your toddler learns to roll their eyes, sigh, and say things like, "That is just stupid."
Yep, not something that is going to win me the Mother of the Year award....

I have always had a very sarcastic sense of humor. I often have snippy retorts pop into my mind and do my best to keep them from blurting out of my mouth at times. This became increasingly harder after I became a mother because I was sometimes the only adult that I had a meaningful conversation with all day. (Yes, I talk to myself. You know you do, too.) Then I had an epiphany.

I could use my sarcastic and snarky powers for good and transform my daily frustrations into teachable moments. Let me give you some examples of how I use my evil power for the greater good."

5) Family Time is Important. And Necessary. And Intimidating. But It Shouldn't Be.

"So many people get stuck trying to figure out the best way to spend time with their family. Go to the park? Go to a ball game? Go camping? Amusement park? Gardening? Trip out of town? Cooking? Swimming? Scavenger hunt? Game Night? Movies? Zoo? Bowling? Laser Tag? Scrapbook? Play Barbies? Bakugan? Build a fort? Talent Show? Fly a kite?

Feeling overwhelmed yet?

So many people get so caught up in trying to figure out what to DO for family time that they get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything that they feel is "special" family time. Sure, you still spend time together as a family, but you are not doing the activities that make you FEEL like you are getting that special bonding time....
But do you know what I have realized?

We don't NEED to plan and execute special family time to HAVE special family time."

6) Your Children are not You, Even if You Treat Them as if They Are

"These parents are clearly the ones that forget that the their children's accomplishments are not a reflection on them as a person or as a parent. They project their own insecurities on to their child instead of accepting their child for who they are. They drive and put pressure on their child to clutch to every opportunity that they have to drive them towards goals that the parent wishes they had been able to fulfill when they had the chance back in their glory days....

You see, I have fallen into the trap of parenting my children based on how I think *I* would respond at their age. But they are NOT me, so it does NOT always work. We may share many of the same traits and personality quirks and they may react in the same way that I did in a similar situation at their age, but it is important to parent them as an INDIVIDUAL, not as a mini-version of myself."

7) You are Not Your Parents

"You can choose to do the same things your parents did with you. It may lead to great results if you have children that respond to those things. But, if you are parenting one way just because your parents did it that way and you feel like that is "the way", do not be surprised if you get hit with a curve ball and end up with a child that reponds better to some other tactics. Just because your parents had great results with you and your siblings does not mean you will see the same results by doing the same thing.

Likewise, you can choose to do vastly different things than what your parents did with you. It may lead to much better results, but it could also lead to worse results.

Do not feel entitled to a great parent-child relationship just because you have one with your parents.

Do not feel destined for a crappy parent-child relationship just because you have one with your parents.

Instead, do the best you can, day in and day out.

Follow your heart. If you feel in your heart that something isn't working, change it and find something that you feel will work better."

8) Learn When to Interfere with Other People's Kids

"As much as I discussed growing a thick skin when it comes to other people interfering with my parenting, I still recognize that there are times that people, even strangers, NEED to intervene. My rule of thumb is if it is dangerous or hurtful to others, it is time to step in. I add the "hurtful to others" specification because sometimes a situation might not be dangerous, but it still requires some action of people are being hurt, whether physically or emotionally. If I see a child being mean to others, not sharing something that is meant to be shared (a slide on the playground or something), or even ignoring a child that wants to participate, I will make sure to step in.

I'm so glad that I was able to step in for these children. As awkward as it was to step and "parent" a stranger's kids for a few moments, it is better than the alternative.

What if I had ignored the situation and one of those children had been hit by a car? Or a car swerved to avoid them and ran off the road, causing injuries or death?"

9) You Will Teach Your Kids Well

"But we often get so caught up on the daily grind of what we need to teach them NOT to do that we forget what we ARE teaching them to do.

For example, repeatedly explaining to Sassy that she is being disrespectful and not effectively communicating when she rolls her eyes or sighs heavily. That is VEEERRRRYYYYY frustrating. I spend so much time dealing with Sassy's "tween" behaviors right now that I forget things that she IS doing right. And, as children often do, it only takes a moment to put it all back in perspective, slow down, and admire what your children are growing up to be."



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