There are plenty of how-to books out there On how best to raise children. My parents’ generation had Dr. Spock, mine had Dr. James Dobson. As a parent I must admit I just winged it. It would be great if someone just wrote a two page book:
- Don’t stress out. You are not going to warp the baby by what brand of ANYTHING you use, whether they co-sleep, whether you feed them formula or breast feed, whether you bathe them everyday or just skip it for two days in a row, or if you use disposable or cloth diapers. Who cares if you feed them hand mixed organic baby food or something out of a jar…use only healthy food in home cooked meals or swing through McDonalds. As long as they are healthy the rest is inconsequential.
- Don’t worry about anyone else’s opinions about YOUR kids or how you raise them. You have better things to do than please your mom, best friend, sister or mother in law. It’s your kid…do the best you can.
- Discipline your little monsters as you see fit. Who cares if you coddle them while you can or swat their butts when they try to stick a fork in the electrical outlet…..just try not to let them evolve into axe murderers.
- Love them through words and actions, provide their basics and a few extras, teach them to be decent human beings.
- Let them develop their own personalities, quirks, likes and dislikes, dreams and aspirations. Let them and encourage them to give it their best and work to their fullest potential.
- Encourage what is good in them, but discourage what is not.
- Remember that what you model for them has more effect on them long term than what you tell them. Lead by example.
- Let them make their own mistakes. Let them suffer the consequences unless doing so will cause great harm or imminent death.
- Prepare them for adulthood. Don’t be a helicopter parent that raises a child who, as an adult has trouble adjusting to life if they get more than 10 feet from Mommy’s apron strings. Teach them to manage money, cook, and to do their own laundry. Teach them to make their own appointments, order pizza and pore over the cellular bill. Give them basic life skills.
- Above all else, work less and play more. Don’t multi-task when you’re supposed to be having time with the kiddos. Make personal interaction intentional. It’s more about connecting and building a relationship than about going places and “stuff “. They’re only little once. And you don’t get a do-over.
The mark of a great parent is that his or her children become decent humans who are functional citizens in this world. That’s the bottom line.