Sharon is a good friend of mine, a lady who is always in the middle of something. She leads awareness efforts about human trafficking, she's volunteered with me in Girls 101 workshops, she has a blog and a bookclub, and she spreads the word about a spectacular teen summer camp that her son Andy Braner runs- CAMP KIVU for teens. Whew!
I asked her to investigate and snoop around among her friends, and ask moms who have "finished" raising kids, "What are 5 Things you are glad you did?" Sometimes ladies who are mature in years think that their advice might be outdated for today's world, but I find that usually it's not. In fact, when I read their 5 things, I shouted YES! This fits exactly in today's world. Values are timeless. We'll let Sharon take it from here!
"5 Things Story
Yesterday I sat at a kitchen table with two older friends, one in her 70’s, the other 80.
We get together once in a while to share knitting patterns and problems, but after about the first 20 minutes the conversation always turns to current life issues each of us are facing. (I am SO blessed to have older friends that are a few years ahead of me in this life! Their wisdom is remarkable!)
I asked them, “What 5 things did YOU do as a mom that you are so glad you did?”
I literally watched their faces change as they silently moved back to the glory days of mothering their young. One has two grown sons, the other two grown daughters. Their children are kind, loving, strong adults and now raising children of their own.
Maybe time has erased the tension, worry and that huge feeling of responsibility young moms often battle, because now those two lovely ladies beamed in the joy of those memories of babies, toddlers, and teens.
(It’s ALWAYS good to know women that are still alive, upright, & functioning in the empty nest period of life. These two are just fine!!)
Their answers were a collaboration of sorts because they agreed on so much. Evidently their 5 elements are (or maybe WERE) just standard rules of “how to grow a child.”
Their thoughts: (not in any order of importance.)
- READ : Start reading to the babies when they are BABIES! Read to them every day, make sure they see YOU reading, take toddlers to the library, have lots of books in the house, turn the TV off and READ. Cultivate the joy of reading. Read history, biographies, and FUN fiction.
- FAMILY MEALS: Every night without fail. Even when harried schedules intervene “make a table.” Turn the TV off and SIT at the table. When it gets difficult, make the meal simple, but put it on the table and face each other. Family members get to know each other at the dinner table. (Phones in a basket by the door when family comes in, picked up only when leaving the building. No answering phones during dinner.)
- RESPECT: Moms must model respect by treating every single human being with dignity. Treat children with respect, listen to them, and never speak in degrading or condescending tone. If disrespect by others is witnessed, take the opportunity to talk about it.
- CONSEQUENCES: Every child must learn that bad decisions are followed by unhappy results. Time out, taking away a toy or privilege, etc. As hard as it is to want to protect them, learning consequences at home is far better than learning is from the principal, police, or the judge. Forego the temptation to be a drill sergeant but face issues one at a time with appropriate responses. Discipline quickly and love deeply.
- FAITH: Take them to church always; making sure teens are involved in a great youth program. Pray aloud and often, read the Bible every day at some point. Talk about the character of God. Let them hear you praying for them and others. Teach them to think beyond themselves and their own needs. Be sure they learn they are not the center of the universe.
Well, I took a deep breath and realized that I’d failed in many of these areas, even though my sons survived and are happily functioning adults. I’m sure my friends failed from time to time as well. I suppose the lesson is to TRY to be consistent.
I worked hard at being a good mom and have been heard to say in years gone by, “If they amount to anything I’ll take all the credit, if they become serial killers I’ll take the blame.”
How foolish! As influential as parents are in their children’s lives, God is and must be the #1 parent.