Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday #3

This week's Works-for-Me Wednesday is:

WFMW: The Great Parenting Advice Edition. What parenting lessons have you learned the hard way? What would you tell a first-time parent? Save us all some headaches and share!

Since I have kids from age sixteen on down to two--three categories.

Advice for parents of young children:

Kids don't need baths that often. Trust the voice of experience on this one. They don't melt or get infectious or sick or something if they're not bathed regularly. Bathe them when they start to smell.

Kids don't need to be changed into pajamas at bedtime. Let them sleep in their clothes until they prefer jammies. Change clothes when the clothes are dirty, like after meals--not for arbitrary agenda items like sleeping and waking.

Kids are tougher than you think. Don't freak when they fall off the couch/table/refrigerator/playground equipment. (Okay, maybe the refrigerator.) Nine times out of ten, they're fine. Some of them won't even cry if you don't.

Kids are smarter than you think. If you think they're beginning to understand "no," they do. Let them experience consequences whenever possible.

Kids have to be taught to like vegetables. Don't let any expert tell you otherwise. Serve them their veggies first, to be finished before they get anything else. (If they won't eat them, then they're not that hungry. Try again later.) Save fruit or dessert or their gummi-vites as a treat for last, a reward after they've finished everything else. Avoid sugar and they'll think of fruit as a dessert. Give them manageable portions and DO require that they clean up their plate! Don't tolerate pickiness until they're much older.

Enjoy them. Squeeze and kiss that chub while you can.

Advice for parents of tweens:

Spend time with them now, while they still think you're invincible.

Help them learn to do the things they want to do. Pay for guitar lesons, teach them to cook, help them start their own blog or lawnmowing business.

Don't do anything for them that they can do for themselves. Encourage maturity in practical situations. Discourage it in culture assimilation.

Address attitudes, not just behavior. Ask questions; "Was that respectful?" "Are you ignoring me?" and "Did you do your best?" are good ones.

When they share their problems, pray with them about them. Pray for their headache, their recital, the situation with their friend. Ask them to pray with you for your headache, test, or situation.

Smooch and tickle them as long as they'll still let you. Use the phrase "I love you" liberally--at bedtime, on the phone, when you're just running out to buy milk. It's a great habit to instill now, to carry into the teen years--and beyond.

Advice for parents of teens:

Start preparing to let go. But don't. Very gradually give them more independence. When they turn 13, remember ya still got 6 or 7 years to go.

With privilege comes responsibility. As you increase one, increase the other. Don't give them too many privileges too early. Keep something for when they turn 18.

Don't let them spend too much time away from home. It's so easy for the voices of their peers to drown yours out. Make sure they know that time with friends is a privilege, to be balanced with responsibilities at home--not a right God hands down to everyone over the age of 12.

Listen when they talk. Work hard to get them to talk. Don't shut them down when they talk by making judgmental statements. When you disagree, save it. Listen when they talk.

Even if you have to prop your eyelids open with toothpicks because she mostly likes to talk at bedtime (your bedtime), even if you have to invent errands that he and only he can accompany you on in order to get that quiet son a captive in your car--do it. Work hard to get them to talk.

When you disagree or you want to instruct, share from the heart and from your own experience. You weren't always a fuddy-duddy. Remember what it was like when you were their age. Let them know you've been through it once. Be real--be honest--be discerning.

Enjoy them. Appreciate their uniqueness. See them as the fascinating people, so different from you, that they are becoming. Learn from them and let them know they've made you think. Treat them with the respect you'd give someone you're just becoming friends with.


Because that's where we're headed, I think. I'm not there yet, but I think these kids I'm raising might become my friends for life.

I hope so.

They're pretty neat people.


penguinsandladybugs said...

Thanks for sharing so many tidbits!! I'm in the tweens, soon to embark on the teens...I'll keep your tips in mind!!

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Oh I knew I'd to read the "Um lots" that you promised at WFMW!

This is really great. There are so many of these that I have done to some extent, and it's nice to hear "an expert mom" (LOL) affirming them.

I'm in the tweens now, and I like your encouragement to "Help them do what they want to do."

lifeasamama said...

wow. this was an amazing post. definitely bookmarking this one. i'm still in the baby stage, but someday i will want to remind myself of some of these tidbits of wisdom!

Myfriendconnie said...

Thank you! So much wisdom! I have ages 1-12, so there was something in every category for me to take in.

Kathy in WA said...

Great advice! Thanks for sharing. I loved the tips for tweens and teens.

Stretch Mark Mama said...

You know, the "bath" thing just occurred to me a few days ago. I have three kids. Takes me a while to catch on.

Joyful Days said...

Each piece of advice was a gem. Lovely post. I'm wondering why I'm just now finding your blog. It is great!!


elaine said...

I'm about to get a tween, so it was good to look ahead a little. Very wise advice.

blue thistle books said...

Very wise words you have spoken.


At A Hen's Pace said...

Thank you all for such encouraging comments!

A couple of the most meaningful to me were made by my kids, which I shall record here for posterity:

Blondechick14 (instead of what I expected, like: Great, Mom, now why don't you try taking your own advice?) said, "Wow...Mom...this is really good." And she went on with specifics, too.

Bantam12 said, "When I have kids, I want to do the same thing." Me: "What, write down advice for other parents?" Him: "No! I want to do what you said!"

They don't usually read my blog...but it was sure nice that they happened to today. I couldn't believe that they wholeheartedly agreed with it all--the greatest compliment of all!


Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. Thank you!
A year ago, I was exactly where you were with the house selling /cleaning/madness. I'm praying for you. Thanks for your post on choosing joy.

Barbara H. said...

This is all great advice. I had a quiet one who only opened up in the car. My other two always seemed yp open up at bedtime!

tonia said...

Really great stuff here, Jeanne!