When I was pregnant with my son, I couldn’t read enough parenting books. I wanted to be the very best parent I could. I wanted to be the best and give him the best and it seemed like there was a book for everything. Pregnancy? No problem. Colic and reflux? This one little book was quite popular at the time. I’m sad to say it didn’t work for me, but no matter. Every time a parenting issue came up, I just posted to a forum for advice or purchased another book. It finally hit me by the time my son was in preschool that no one book, magazine article, or parenting advice forum could solve all of my parenting issues. So, I stopped seeking these things out and went totally on instinct. Can I let you in on a little secret, Mamas? We all have this instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, especially when it comes to your own child, it’s probably not. It took me a while to realize this, but once I did, I felt very empowered.
Now with parenting blogs so popular and plentiful, it’s easy to search up a parenting issue you have, but you really do have to be careful about the advice being doled out. I personally hesitate to even write many parenting advice posts on here, because Lord knows this IS my first time at the rodeo with having a child, and everyone’s situation is so unique. However, I decided to share these three parenting rules I always follow because I really don’t think you can go wrong with what I’m about to tell you. It’s not rocket science, it’s not filled with the latest parenting “buzz words”, and it’s so basic that I think that’s why it works for me. We are so bombarded on a daily basis with so much “noise” and social media and everyone telling us how to parent that it’s time to get back to the basics. Here are the only three rules I parent by:
Talk To Your Kids
From the moment they are placed in your arms, talk to your kids and don’t ever stop. Even when they’re totally annoyed, keep talking and telling them random things. Not only does this build their vocabulary, but you’re also making some wonderful memories. I talk to my son about how my day was. If a certain song comes on the radio that brings back a memory from my childhood or teenage years, I tell him what it makes me think of and what I was like back then. We talk about current events (my son loves keeping up with the news), I tell him what he will be having for lunch at school that day, and I always send him off with a kiss and a reminder to have a wonderful day. It doesn’t cost a single thing to do any of this, but it keeps us learning about each other. My parents talked to me while I was growing up, and even though I rolled my eyes every time my mom came into my room singing, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!” in her best opera voice each morning, I secretly giggled. It’s our “thing” we shared. My dad wasn’t as silly, but I still listened. I know what song was popular when he was serving in the Army in Germany (House of the Rising Sun) and that his dog Red waited for him everyday after school on the corner when he was walking home. Random? Absolutely! However, now that my daddy is no longer here on earth, these little random facts he told me about himself are precious memories. Talk to your kids. I promise they are listening!
Listen To Your Kids
Talking is great, but listening is just as important. This shouldn’t just stop at asking them how their day was and them saying “fine”. Does your kid want to show you the newest house they built while playing Minecraft and explain in very particular detail about how they chose to craft their house? Listen. Do they want you to watch the same funny video over and over? Do it. Do they just want to have a good cry because life is so hard when you’re a fifth grader? Grab the Kleenex and just listen. Many of you know I’m an elementary school librarian, so I come in contact with a whole lot of kids each day. Some of them just can’t wait to tell me something….anything. They want to show me the scrape they got when they fell off their bike, so of course I listen and offer them sympathy and a hug. Some want to show me their new shoes. I admire them with much excitement! With a few of them in particular, I just have to wonder if anyone at home is really listening to them. I can’t even wrap my head around not acknowledging your own child and listening to them when they want to talk.
Pray for Them
I pray for my child daily. I pray for his safety, his happiness, and his health. I pray for him when he has a test, I pray that he will make wise decisions and be the kind of friend people can count on. I pray that he would be blessed with friendships that are positive and healthy. I pray that he will now bow to peer pressure and be too caught up in the things of this world. I pray for his school, his teachers (ha!) and that he has a close relationship with the Lord. My prayers aren’t elaborate nor do they take up tons of time each day, but I just say a prayer of thanks for him and whatever else I feel led to pray about when it comes to my son. Maybe you don’t believe in prayer, but it’s what gets me through and helps me more than anything along my parenting journey.
There it is…the three rules I parent by. Am I the perfect parent? No. Do I have it all together? Not even. I have yet to experience the joys of parenting a teen, but I hope the foundation I’m laying with these three basic rules will help make that transition a little easier. Do you have your own set of parenting rules?