Having children is one of the biggest blessings of our lives. Those same children can also be one of the biggest challenges. As they are growing up, our job as parents is not to be their buddy. Our job is to teach them how to be responsible adults and even have fun while doing so (yes it is possible).
As I am now on the “finished” end (not that we are ever truly finished except we can now be more of a “buddy”) of the parenting spectrum, I sometimes mull over the prospect of what I would do differently if I knew then what I know now. What would I do the same?
What I would do differently:
- I would teach them basic foundational bible theology. This is more than teaching them all the bible stories. This is the foundation underneath the bible stories.
- I would teach them how to use/handle their finances. Neither their dad nor I was really taught much of anything about how to handle our money. About 10 years ago, we learned some basic common sense principles that work that we wish we had known before our children were born/before we got married.
- I would teach my daughter how to sew.
- I would have had my son take piano lessons.
- I would not give them as much apple and/or orange juice, soda, koolaid-sugar drinks. I would have given them water.
- I would have been more consistent with healthier eating.
- When we sent them out to play in the rain, I would have gone with them.
- More often I would have taught them how to do things by having them do them with me and then gradually, step by step, do them on their own.
- I would have been more consistent with discipline.
- I would have been more consistent with any work/chores for which they were responsible.
- Both my husband and I would have spent more one on one time with each of them.
- We would have more family game nights.
- We would have taught them to drive a straight shift. In most other countries in the world, most cars are straight shift and these days we have much more international travel/living. As both of our children are missionaries to other countries, it would have been beneficial to them to have learned this skill. It would also have been a benefit, especially as far as my daughter is concerned, because she would have been able to partake in a Racecar Driving Experience that we considered gifting her as a graduation gift.
- I would pray even more for them.
What I would do the same:
- We taught our son how to shake someone’s hand. No wimpy handshaking allowed. Of course he got practice at church. Not long after we started teaching him, he informed me that he didn’t grip an older person’s hand very hard because he didn’t want to hurt them. I informed him that that was very considerate and quite the thing to do.
- I taught them how to sew on a button.
- Humor. Humor diffuses many situations.
- We sent them out to play in the rain (don’t panic, there was no thunder and lightning at the time)
- I taught them how to cook.
- Music lessons.
- Read books. Lots of books.
- We tried to prepare our children for the possibility that they would not have a spouse. Our daughter might have to support herself and/or a family so we wanted her to have an education/training on which she might be able to use. We tried to teach her basics about things that might be considered a “man’s” job. Her dad even got her a set of pink tools-of which he refused to use because they were pink. We taught our son to cook, how to sew on a button and how to clean a house (doesn’t mean he will-just that he can). One does not know what God has for them in the future. One could remain single. A spouse could die or become disabled. They need to be equipped.
- I taught them about the birds and the bees. Awkward? Yes. Honest, factual and appropriate is the name of the game here. They needed to know that they could come to me and ask a question if need be without fear of reprisal. I explained to them that their friends may think they know the answer to one of these questions but perhaps not. I would give them the truth. And yes, I got a couple of questions over the years.
- There is something that I would do the same but differently in that I would do this more. I wouldn’t get so uptight about the messes. Easy to say on this side of the parenting journey, I know, but they clean up-for the most part. Let me give you an example. When our daughter was small it was time for the Winter Olympics. We watched some figure skating. One day she was playing while I was getting ready for work. I came into the Living room/kitchen area and there was a coating of baby powder all over the floor of the kitchen. I asked her what she was doing. She looked up at me with big eyes (worried that she was in trouble) and said uncertainly and timidly, “ice skating”. I looked at her for a minute, and said, “OK then….have fun.” A great big grin came across that relieved little face. Yes, it was a pain to clean up the baby powder all over my kitchen floor. But in reality, was it a big deal? Not really, she had a blast and I have a great memory. The question would be, will it matter 100 years-or even 5 years- from now? Let it go.
- We made our children wait for some things. It made them look forward to something. Our daughter did not wear makeup at 8. They did not participate in teen activities when they were 10. They did not get a cell phone at age 2……oh wait….they did not have cell phones when our children were 2. But you get the point.
- I apologized when I was wrong. I won’t admit how many, many times that happened…..
And last but not least, I would still have them say (and yes, it was required ;-)), “Thank you mom. I love you mom. You are the best mom in the world.”
Smiling at the memories,