The childhood period for parents is bliss at least when you compare it to what's coming. This is the golden age, you might say. It’s the do everything I say or else stage of their life and by counting 1.2.3 everything becomes resolved. Well, in theory that’s the way parenting should work. I remember my mother telling me she heard other mothers warn her "However bad you think your little kids are right now, just wait until they are older.” Soon enough, my mother learned what they weren't lying. What our children learn at their young age of their development, will change the way they see us in the future. We need to begin by teaching our children to respect us and not simply fear us.
What’s the difference? There is a huge difference! Respect lasts, fear doesn’t. As soon as your little Tim begins to get bigger than you, fear goes out the window. The counting goes out the window and the timeouts go there too even faster than you can say one. There is NO turning back, what’s done is done and now you have to face the music and deal with the consequences.
I can’t stress enough that childhood is the foundation for the rest of your child’s life. This is the big one, the don’t screw your kid up stage. What, how and when you do stuff here is what will matter most latter in life. This not only will affect your child’s future but possibly your grand children’s future as well. More or less. Remember, we don’t always do everything our parents did either.
“YOU'RE A HYPOCRITE!!!” You hear all grown up Timmy say. Plain and simple, this is a parent’s worst nightmare. To be called out by one of your kids now bigger than you. It’s gonna hurt and it’s gonna make you cry but it’s gonna be the truth. What can you do then? The before and after with dealing with this are both a bit different.
BEFORE YOU GET CALLED A HYPOCRITE:
This is the best time to act by doing the right things. YOU CAN’T EXPECT YOUR JIMMY TO NOT SMOKE WHEN HE’S A TEEN WHEN YOU ARE A WALKING, TALKING CHIMNEY AROUND HIM WHEN HE’S A CHILD. This is the time to do things right. You can’t be a drunk and expect to tell you child — later, that drinking is bad for you and shouldn’t do it. Parenting is about being real and truthful as possible and this is the best time to do it. Kids can spot fake-ness a mile away. This is the time to be responsible and a role model. I still remember the way my mom was and the way my dad acted. Up to this day I haven't forgotten things, some I have, but not those that matter. I can be certain my kids will not forget the way I do things either.
AFTER YOU GET CALLED A HYPOCRITE:
Enter teenage-hood and things get complicated and sometimes overwhelming or even scary. So you screwed up. You didn’t know better and you spoke profanities every other word during your kid’s childhood and now that he’s 10 and his vocabulary would make a sailor blush. Suddenly you realize it doesn’t look right for your kid to do it or it’s getting him in trouble at school. What do you do? “DON’T SAY BAD WORDS TIMMY!” Done, that should do it right?
It’s what our kids see that makes all the difference. Before there are friends or BFFS, there are moms and dads. Before there is school, there is home. This is our time to make things happen and make a difference in their lives. We all mess up, yes I know, guilty. But the most important thing to do after we mess up is to accept that we did and be a bit more understanding to our kids. It's never too late to start something positive. I haven't forgotten how it felt to be a young girl. I didn’t develop some sort of “mom amnesia” all of a sudden and recall only the holy parts of my childhood. Yes, I was well behaved as a child and not because I say it but because my mom says it. I was an introvert which led me to have the personality I had but my parent’s raising made all the difference.
My mother taught me by example and not by words. Ok, example, words and a small belt but that’s another post entirely. Remember, I chose to be the mom I am now by watching my parents and deciding what I liked and what I didn’t. Everything is a choice but aside from what my mom said, I learned by watching her. That made all the difference in the world. I'm not saying we should pretend to be someone we are not, but if we can choose to be better role models to our kids when they are young and impressionable and easier to handle, we can have a better relationship with them as they get older. Respect. Every parent wants respect but you can’t just demand it if we don’t even know what it looks like. The only way to guarantee success is by never giving up and as parents that’s all we can really do.