Just when you figure one kid out, you have a brilliant idea to have another baby and guess what it's back to the drawing board.
Even without a training manual, every mom has the same goal of having a great relationship with their kids. We want them to be respectful and know their boundaries but still be fun not robotic. We envision having fun with them long into their adult years.
I am not a professional by any means but with my age spread of children, I've experienced a lot. My older boys, at this point, still come home for visits and call for advice when they need it.
I don't feel like I've made it by any means but I am seeing the fruits of my labor and that's a rewarding feeling. I know that they are not perfect and are fully able to make a wrong choice but rather than waiting for the other shoe to drop, I'll just enjoy this feeling right now and share how I got here.
1. Choose your battles
You can't approach every situation with a hammer mentality. Not everything is battle worthy. Some things are worth letting go.
How do you determine that? Ask yourself, will this matter in 10 years? If not, then mention the situation and let it go. Or just ignore it altogether. Only you can determine what is a battle and what isn't.
2. Keep your promise
This is a huge part of building a relationship. Your child needs to know that you will keep your word. They need to know that they can trust you 100% of the time.
If you don't think you can 100% do something then be honest and tell them. They will understand and know for sure that when you say you promise, it will happen.
This goes for discipline also. Don't threaten with something that you don't plan on following through with. This just teaches them that you aren't consistent, which in my opinion, affects their ability to trust you.
3. Follow the Golden Rule
As your children grow, always keep the golden rule in the front of your thoughts. React or treat them the way you would want to be treated.
Do you like positive affirmations? Do you like to be recognized for good things? So do your children.
How to Choose Calm Reactions Over Yelling
4. Be transparent
This doesn't mean divulging all of your secrets, this means to show that you are human. If you make a mistake, own it. If you yell, apologize. If you overreact, say it. Show them that you are not perfect.
5. Let them ask questions and answer them
Some children are questioners by nature. These are the leaders of tomorrow. They aren't kool-aid drinkers (reference to Jim Jones btw) and probably aren't going to follow the crowd. They aren't questioning your authority, they just need to make sense of it in their brain.
Negotiating is a life skill. If this is how they are wired, teach them how to use it to their advantage.
6. Give them freedom
Even at a young age, kids like to explore. They like to find things out for themselves. Don't let your fear of something bad happening stop them from learning new things. Don't pass your fears on to them. Don't suffocate them.
This doesn't mean you let them do every thing, you still have boundaries but you give them room to breathe.
7. Guide them
When your children are little they are learning and everything is new to them. When they become pre-teens and teens they have a little life experience in certain areas. Rather than telling them what to do, offer advice and let them make up their mind.
This will help you as you transition into full fledged adulthood, when they aren't going to want you to tell them what to do.
The caveat to this is that while they are pre-adults (teens) still living at home, you have to decide if it is an advice moment or a tell them what to do moment.
8. Stick with it
I try to write my advice in the positive form but this one really needs to say DON'T QUIT (yes, in all caps and bold). All too often when the going gets, tough the tough disappear. DON'T DO IT!
I know it's hard to believe, but you will get to a season when you will ask yourself ~what happened to my little sweetie? You will go to your room and feel exasperated and wonder how you can get so frustrated with someone that you love so much.
They are still inside there, they are just trying to figure things out. They are hormonal and not really sure what they are thinking some days. These are the days when they need you the most. These are the days when they need you to do all of the above even more.
9. Find yourself
Becoming a mom means your world as you know it changes. You now have a piece of your heart walking around. Your life revolves around this little person. Your calendar looks like someone was massacred because every little bit of it is filled with something for them.
The problem is that somewhere in all of this often times you forget who you are. You can't remember what you liked to do before kids. When asked what you do for fun, you respond with...what's that?
To build a strong relationship with them you have to be happy with you too. Finding yourself doesn't make you selfish it means you matter too.
Self-Care for Ideas for Moms
If you've followed me for a while you know that this will always be my first step in most things. God is our source of wisdom in all situations. He knows your child better than you do. He chose you to be your child's mom. He won't steer you wrong.
But don't wait until you're in need to pray. Begin when they are little to seek his wisdom so that when you're in need you recognize God's leading. However, it's never too late to start!
Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint. It's like a fun house where just when you find your rhythm everything changes and you have to figure it out all over again.
Sometimes it is easy to forget that you can win the argument and force the right behavior but lose the heart in the process.
Parenting is a like a dance and you are the lead partner. Your kids will follow your lead. They look to you for guidance and direction, yes even on the crazy hormonal days.
I'm praying for you!