Monday, June 4, 2012

The Best Parenting Advice I Can Give You

At one event, one woman was asking me my opinions on some of the parenting hot button issues: teens and the internet, education, sibling rivalry.

I've tackled pretty much all of these in the blog from time to time, but here's the real advice I want to give to any parent:

Do what feels right for you and your family.

I trust that you have your child's best interest at heart. I trust that you are trying. I trust that some days, you're questioning everything you've ever done as a parent. I know I have.

But what gets me through those moments is looking back on why I made those decisions that I did. They were full of good intentions. And I'm not so convinced that they were the wrong ones.

Big surprise coming from me, but guess what? It really is all about balance.

If you feel you've been too lenient, then go ahead and lay down some new rules. Just because they're new doesn't mean that your kids can't adapt to them. And given that the only constant in life is change, you really are doing them a favor by teaching them how to abide by different rules.

If you feel you've been too strict, then stop and reassess the rules currently in place. Are some of them not that important to you? Let them go! Your children will see that (a) you're willing to admit you were wrong, and/or (b) you're willing to be flexible, and/or (c) the rules still in place are really that important to follow.

But again, I'm not trying to tell you how to parent. Those are just some examples of things that you may be second-guessing. And second-guessing is okay if you come away from it with renewed confidence.

Here's the thing: no doctor, no expert, no seemingly perfect other mom out there is parenting your children. Nor are they you! Each of us has our own unique qualities, likes and dislikes to bring to the table. Again, it's balancing out our styles with the others in our children's lives that will provide them with a fuller experience.

I, for instance, am not a fan of the great outdoors. I have no desire to take my kids hiking or biking and definitely not to the snow!

Thankfully, my parents love those things so my girls are not deprived of those experiences. Instead, they have cherished memories of their grandparents (and vice versa)...and Mommy gets to do something else while they're off having fun!

From me, they get a very in-depth look at musical theatre, balance (I hope!), self-introspection, not being afraid to try new things, and learning to laugh at ourselves. And there are other people in their lives to balance out the rest.

And, finally, my ultimate disclaimer: when I share things here, I'm not at all ever saying this is the only way to parent. I'm sharing my stories of how I parent, how I come to make my decisions. And I read other blogs for other perspectives that help shape my own, but I could never be just like another blogger out there. I am, for better or worse, me.

And somehow, my style has gotten me nominated as a Top Mom of Teens blogger! I know this sounds canned, but this one really is an honor. This first year of parenting a high schooler has been quite the challenge. I wish I could say it wasn't as bad as you've heard, and I suppose it could always be worse, but it has been difficult. And exhausting.

So it's a true badge of honor to think someone actually considers me a a Top Mom of Teens. And if you're one of them, I'd be delighted to receive your vote.


BigLittleWolf said...

You raise such a good point about rules, April. That we can - and sometimes should change them.

If current rules / limits aren't working, we need to rethink them. Teens will push the limits, they're going through so many changes themselves, and we have to adapt to their changing rhythms - give them head when they're responsible, and rope them in when they're not!

Roxy | Uncontested Divorce Pennsylvania said...

Parenting should not be that complicated because most of the time, you will find your instincts working for you.