I've been a parent for close to 22 years (in my mind I hear a loud "YIKES, REALLY?"). In that time I've had a few "ah-ha" moments and brief flashes of wisdom. I've listed what I've discovered and now release it like a baton to the next runner in the parenting relay race. These are also listed for my own children - all daughters - who may become mothers one day themselves. Below are my top 10 revelations thus far in my parenting journey:
- Parenting Style: Fifty percent of how I parent is what I learned from my own parents. That's probably understandable. The other 50 percent is a mix of what my spouse brought to the equation and how I wished my parents had raised me.
- Key Influencers: As my children have entered their teens and twenties, they are influenced more by each other than by us - their parents. I am glad we got them off on the right foot before this happened.
- Diplomacy: I interfered too much when my kids squabbled. I've learned it is best to let them duke it out on their own. Now when I interfere, it is to minimize unfairness or bullying. But they need to experience how to give-and-take, how to express their emotions, and especially how to compromise. This will help them with all relationships they encounter.
- Innate Qualities: No matter what other people think, I know my children were born with distinct characteristics that have nothing to do with how I am as a parent. My belief is children are born with distinct traits for example stubbornness, kindness, and thoughtfulness, or being athletic, musical, and artistic. But it has been up to me to help each child discover their inborn traits and either tame or nourish those traits.
- Slow Down: The best gift I gave my children is my time and attention.
- Cleanliness: The best gift my children gave me besides their heartfelt love is a clean room.
- Curiouser and Curiouser: My job as a parent is not to provide all the answers but to encourage curiosity. I provide the tools all around their environment to allow them to seek answers. I love to ask them questions that get their wonder-juices flowing.
- Reading is Fundamental: Even though the Internet is pervasive it has been critical to install a love of reading books to our children. Reading sparks their imagination the way nothing else can. All three of my girls are voracious readers and my husband and I love to fill their shelves with more and more books.
- The Places They will Go: Whenever we could we have encourage our daughters to have a love of travel. It broadens the mind, opens the eyes, and shows them that they are just a small part of this big world.
- Time Doesn't Stand Still: It's true that once you become a parent it seems like time goes by faster than a tornado. Now that two of my children are college-age those memories of their toddler years seemed to go by in a nanosecond. Cherish each day and worry less about cleaning up messes and more about creating memories. That is ultimately what matters most.
When I was little I always knew I wanted to be a parent. I suppose that is the best testament to a great childhood and having wonderful parents. Now when I hear my own children say, "When I'm a mother..." it is like music to my ears. I look forward to seeing their own list of revelations one day. And maybe I'll create a new list of revelations as a grandmother.
What are the biggest revelations you have had as a parent?