It seems that parenting these days is tougher than ever before. But is it really? Or are we, parents, just making it that way?
Those questions came about after speaking with another mom at a baseball game. Our boys are on the same team. As the mom was ruminating over the fact of having to make three separate dinners for her three boys, I reflected back to when I had all five of my kids under one roof.
As a single mom, never once did I consider making individually prepared meals. My kids ate what I gave them…no questions asked. Who did I learn that practice from? My own mother. She, herself, had four children to raise. She didn’t have time to be a short-order cook and wasn’t shy in saying so. I regularly heard, “What do you think I am? A short-order cook?” I got the message and appropriate lesson to boot. I know I’m not the only one.
That’s how it was back then, and I can’t help but contemplate the value of our parents’ madness. I think today’s parents could benefit from adopting a number of phrases our parents used to toss around without a second thought. Sometimes, old ways are the better ways. Establishing more stringent limits is a means of love while maintaining sanity. Below are a few tidbits our parents used to say. You might want to reintroduce them into your own families’ lives:
1. “I’m not your best friend. I’m your mother.” – My mother never set out to become my best friend. She already had one, my father. She wasn’t about to trade the respect she believed she deserved from me to become buddy-buddy. Even today, she still isn’t my best friend. But I love her to death and chat with her every week;
2. “You don’t get paid to do family work.” – That comment usually followed me asking for an allowance. It was interchangeable with “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” My mother taught me team work, the value of a dollar, and going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty through the use of this phrase;
3. “I went to school already.” – And she was right. She did. My mom wasn’t about to do my homework for me. She taught me resourcefulness, communication, and how to handle my own problems as a result;
4. “Go play in your room (or outside).” – My mother made it clear that she was not my entertainment squad. She, guiltlessly, taught me to be comfortable being alone as well as how to entertain myself;
5. “I don’t have to explain. I’m your mother.” – Not only did this statement clearly establish the chain of command but it also provided an enormous amount of security and eliminated negotiation of any sort. My mother would have never negotiated with me to exhaustion like so many parents do with their kids today;
6. “There’s the door.” – My mother never felt the need to seek my approval. Nor did she shy away from disciplining me. She taught me gratitude as well. I promise you, every time I packed my Barbie suitcase and ran away, I came back more appreciative of my warm bed than ever before;
7. “Just think.” – I usually heard this suggestion when I could not fall asleep at night because I was wound up. My mother taught me how to manage myself in these instances and many others. Spending time in the dark thinking never goes to waste;
8. “Who said you had to be happy all the time?” – My mother instilled in me realistic expectations when it came to being human as well as showed me the value and place for all emotions, thoughts, etc. I believe kids really need more of this today;
9. “Did you forget something?” – Whether I failed to say “good-morning” to her as I came down the stairs or hung up the phone without saying “good-bye,” I learned that manners were not optional in my life or society…ever;
10. “Did you kiss your dad good-night?” – Meant, remember what is important and keep that first place. It also signified just how much my parents loved me.
So there you have it, ten phrases to adopt if you so choose. Each one will undoubtedly decrease your parenting stress level and benefit your kids enormously.