Interesting question and not at all rhetorical. Our son was very serious. Naturally, as a parent, I was curious and concerned about what generated this question. But, before I inquired further of him, I set my thoughts to analyzing my life in relation to his question.
If I were to die today, could I honestly say I feel I satisfied with my life and what I have accomplished a lot to date?
Well, I have my regrets, as we all do, and I might have done some things differently. No doubt, there were times wasted and opportunities lost, but, overall, I can confidently say that yes, indeed, I have accomplished much.
Here is why I can say that, and it is my hope that you will find your answer in here as well, especially if you are a parent.
The art, science, work and career of raising healthy, balanced, happy children is a huge accomplishment. This is a feat not to be taken lightly or taken for granted. Maintaining a happy, healthy relationship with your spouse and each child is critical, and not always easy.
So, if you are in this parenting process, either married or divorced, single or in a relationship, here are some tips that I have found helpful in our parenting experience. We are not finished yet! We have 3 sons, the youngest is 14 and just started high school. The second is 16, the oldest nearly 20, and we are all very connected. The conversations are easy and open. The time we spend together is a blessing. We enjoy one another immensely.
1. My husband believes, and so do I, the best gift you can give your children is to love your spouse. The wholesome, natural show of affection, a kiss or hug, and spoken words of compliiments, encouragement, and “I love you” paint the best picture for your children. They feel secure, they see a model of commitment and an example of how to interact with the people you love.
Granted, it ain’t a perfect world and arguments do come up. But, modeling loving behaviour has far-reaching effects. I have great friends who now share custody with their kids because of divorce. Though it is much harder, they continue to model a cooperative attitude for their kids. Those eyes are always watching and they hear everything, too. Refuse to bad mouth your ex to your kids. Teach respect and understanding and forgiveness. Nobody wishes this kind of pain on people they care about.
2. Eat together- You’ve probably heard this before. When your kids were little, of course you all ate together. You chatted, told jokes, laughed when little brother would spit out his baby food. As they get older, kids want to tell about their day, and parents should be as anxious to listen as we were when we awaited their first word!
Meals together create connection time. Though our sons now have sports and after school jobs, we still work hard at eating together at least 4 times a week, even if it’s really quick in a flurry of activity. The underlying effort spells out….we are important to each other.
3. Read, Watch, Play Together... Remember bedtime stories, or watching that Sesame Street Video for the 300th time??? Remember how you sat on the floor with your toddler and taught her how move her marker on the game board after spinning the spinner or rolling the dice? As kids get older, reading together and playing games continues to be a great way to connect. If you’ve been reading or listening to your kids read all along, then by age 12 it is still comfortable and comforting for kids to have you snuggle up and share the story.
Talk about what they read. What do they think? How would they make it different? Conversations don’t have to be about your personal situation everyday. Let imagination play into your conversations with a leading question such as my son gave me the other day.
Board games, word games, (Bananagrams is great) Scrabble, charades and group games are so much fun. Try “Guesstures”. Bring out the natural “ham” and the natural “spotlight grabber” in your kids and enjoy one another.
Don’t forget activities like hiking, biking, bowling, camping, etc. Making memories, having fun, connecting.
4. No Tech Day – We made Sundays a No Tech Day. We attend our church and the rest of the day all computers and gaming devices are turned off. We spend the day with one another, or with friends or family. This is an old-fashioned tradition that still works, reaping great rewards. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…..use it!
5. Cherish Your Children – It is a sad fact that life is so busy, we are so distracted and pulled in so many directions that we take one another for granted. Mom and dad are exhausted, and the thought of homework or chauffering is a royal pain. But, think back to those infant/toddler days. How much time did you spend cuddling, cooing, hugging, hoisting him in the air, taking him for a walk or a pony rider? How often did you nuzzle that nose or blow raspberries on that cheek, sparking fits of laughter and endless smiles?
Your kids need hugs! No matter their age. They need to hear “You are the best and I love you. I thank God for you!” We all need to know we are appreciated and valued.
Yep. I can die today and know I have accomplished much. I have lavished love on my husband and my kids, even when it was hard or I didn’t feel like it. They each know they are so precious to me. I was never a baker, or even the greatest cook, but my boys know I’m good for a laugh, a hug, a listening ear. They can talk to me about anything and our connections are strong. I am looking forward to meeting all my future daughter-in-laws!!
Lorraine M. Serra is wife, mother, teacher, speaker and musician. For encouragement visit http://www.Born2Praise2.com