Happy Holidays in August from the Marshalls…anything to make us feel cooler on a hotter than hell day in Tejas. Beyond knowing what not to do, remember to poke fun at yourself on occasion and find your inner child!
We have three beautiful and talented daughters and I believe that our parenting success was more about what we did NOT do than what we actually did as parents. Both RM and I are united on the following rules for what not to do as a parent:
- Don’t Choose Her Friends – we all know what I mean here, right? Don’t insist that your daughter becomes friends with the “popular kids” or the “jocks”. Let her find her way and she will bring home many friends that she will cherish for a life time or at least through childhood. She will bring home some knuckleheads too but you can laugh about it together (much later!).
- Don’t Make Excuses – there has to be some respect for authority even when the authority figure makes mistakes (they make some doozies, don’t you?). As a parent, we must acknowledge that life is not always fair and in turn we have to deal with the outcomes that come our way. These unfair verdicts are the ones our children will more likely remember and reflect upon in their adult years. Your child comes home and tells you a particular injustice that occurred on the playground? What do you do? Call the child’s mother? Call the school? I recommend you give your girl a hug, tell you are sorry it happened, and suggest you read a book together or play a game of checkers. Let’s move forward, people. Not backward.
- Never Get Involved in Her Employment – what employer wants their employee’s mommy calling to report an absence or an illness? Or asking for their whereabouts? Keep all of that private between you and your child. Can you tell this one bugs me big time?
- Don’t Make Her Decisions, Both Big and Small – your children will ask you for advice but that doesn’t mean they want it. They just want to discuss it with you (or maybe just vent…venting is important when raising girls) or just hear the sound of their own voice verbalizing their concerns…who knows? Just take a breath, listen and say very little beyond..”yes”, “I understand”, “I can see you are upset”, or a personal favorite, “what can I do to make you feel better?”. Avoid traps that put you in a position of the Great Oz.
- Don’t Resolve Her Conflicts – you are not the one to help her with these issues beyond a hug, a suggestion of a hot bath, or a cup of tea. Her conflicts are her conflicts so provide comfort but not the answers because her answers are often about changing her own behavior not others. That news is impossible to hear from a parent. That is what friends, confidants, and Dear Abby provide.
- Don’t Finish Her Projects – you can run for supplies, help her access information on the World Wide Web, and make cookies but DO NOT DO IT FOR HER – EVER! This will never end well and will be the start of a bad progression that will only end with a jump off a big cliff for you– dear mother or father. Fathers are worse about this than mothers (my opinion). Never finish a sugar cube Alamo for your child..it turns into a sticky mess.
- Don’t Let Her Win…Every Time – learning to lose gracefully sometime takes years. The process is ugly but all children will get there with time. There may be many temper tantrums and tears but it is a critical step/ability to developing into a healthy adult. It is right up there with learning to admit our mistakes and apologize. This is especially valid with girls that grow up believing in that awful word…perfection!
I am sure this blog will solicit comments from C1, C2 and C3 — we hope we didn’t scar you all too much and thank you for being our kids. We love you even if we don’t say it enough but we hopefully demonstrated it to you through our actions (or lack of actions) each and every day.