I’ve had this post in my heart for some time now. I, like you, probably ready a lot of parenting articles online. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty darn sick of articles like 10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Kids. I read things like this and I think, what a joke. A parenting magazine trying to convince parents that telling your kids things like, “Good job” is going to harm them. REALLY? First of all, let’s forget for a second that their target audience is comprised of people who want to be good parents. I highly doubt neglectful or abusive parents are concerning themselves with the emotional damaged caused by telling their kids, “Good job.” What I really wonder is why make it a goal to make parents feel lousy about their parenting skills?
Don’t we have enough guilt every single day? Don’t we second-guess most of our decisions and actions already? What’s the point here? If they make readers feel completely incompetent then they will come back to read some more? For me, this doesn’t fly. If an article is trying to make you feel bad, which you can usually tell by the title, then just skip it. Why add more stress, frustration and second-guessing to your day? I want to do what those articles will not. Here are the top 8 things you are already doing right.
1. Say It Loud And Proud – “I Love You” – If you’re like me, you probably tell your kids you love them all the time, before drop off at school or camp, before bed and many times just because it strikes you how amazingly lucky you are that these little people call you Mom or Dad. We say it so often because we’re good parents and we want those words to penetrate their very souls. We want them to carry that love around whether they are with us or not. We want them to use it to build their self-confidence when a friend decides they don’t want to play with them. We want them to use it to filter out anyone in the world who doesn’t see all the amazing things we see when we look at them.
2. Hugs, Kisses, and Cuddles – I came from a very affectionate family and it didn’t even occur to me till I met my husband’s family that there were families who were reserved in their physical affection. It’s so important that all people, especially our kids feel our physical affection for them. A hug when we’re feeling bad is sometimes the best medicine for us, so why wouldn’t it be for them? Sometimes I have to make a point to cuddle my oldest, because even though she’s growing up before my eyes I know she needs it. Even as a woman in my 30s there’s still nothing I wouldn’t trade to have one last hug from my parents.
3. Setting Boundaries – While we want our kids to be happy, we know that can’t happen at the expense of setting boundaries. My kids would love to eat candy for breakfast, but it wouldn’t be good for them. You’ll read tons of articles on how to sugar coat the word “No” so it doesn’t harm their fragile little egos, but children are born to test limits and if we don’t give them any they will quickly find themselves in trouble and ill prepared to live in the world. Ultimately we would do our kids a great disservice if we didn’t teach them what our parents taught us – “No, means, no, end of story.”
4. Apologize To Them – I make it a point to apologize to my kids if I snap at them out of frustration or punish them a little too harshly even if punishment is warranted. The idea of trying to prevent yourself from EVER yelling or overreacting is ridiculous to me. I can’t will myself to be perfect and they can’t either. What I can teach them however is how to apologize when emotions get the best of us and we do not act with grace. I do this by example. I also tell them constantly that even if mommy is upset with their behavior, I still love them and there is NOTHING they could do that would change that. After my son’s very long tantrum the other day, just before bed he said to me, “you know Mommy, even when I’m mad and say I hate you, I still love you.” I knew in that moment that my words had gotten through.
Oh there are tons more you’re already doing right moms and dads. Stay tuned for the rest of my list and in the mean time, just skip those headlines intended to make you feel bad. There is no point. Like my husband likes to remind me, “Worrying doesn’t solve tomorrow’s problems. It just ruins today’s happiness.” So just get out there and keep being great parents and stop sweating “expert” advice. Guess what? On the subject of your kids, YOU are the expert. Period. End of story.