The second most important relationship that I will ever have is with each of my three children.
Not only will our bond be a model for the bond that they one day have with their kids, but our experiences will shape the people that they become.
By being an honest, open, loving, attentive mother that takes the time to teach and listen to my children, I will one day have three competent adults who will likewise be the best parents they can be.
The 5 select strategies that I will work on to continue developing and strengthening the relationships that I have with each of my three children are:
1. Have one-on-one time with each of them daily -
This might be one of the hardest tasks to undertake, but it is one of the most important.
While school, homework, extracurricular activities, friends, chores and distance (since the oldest is away at college) all vie for attention; just 30 minutes of alone time with each of the kids makes a complete difference in their self-esteem as well as the bond that we share.
I'd prefer more, but sometimes this is all we can get.
During this time, I need to focus on participating in activities that allow us to have good, quality time.
With the youngest: after we catch up on both the good and the bad aspects of her day, including classes, friends, teachers, and what happened in gym or on the playground, we can move on to reading a fun story together while cuddling or play a game of her choice.
With the middle: while throwing around the football or making shots on the pool table, we can also catch up on the wealth of things that happened in his day, talking candidly about grades, girls and competition in the classroom or on the field.
Playing sports is always a good way to get him to open up, but there's a good chance that we'll move on to taking turns telling jokes from his favorite joke book.
With the oldest: since we have a very limited amount of time between work and dinner service, as well as much physical distance between us, our best bet is to catch up by phone while she is en route from her office back to her dorm.
The oldest usually has funny stories to tell about her day, exciting or frustrating news to share, or just needs to talk through options and opportunities.
2. Teach them good morals and values -
In a world gone crazy, it is vitally important that I teach my children the difference between right and wrong and that there are not really €shades of gray.€
Lying, cheating, bullying, being disrespectful, being judgmental, and not trying your best, rather it is at school or at home, are a few of the things that are not options.
Instead, I need to always teach them love, forgiveness, honesty, integrity, compassion, respect, how to be a good listener, a thoughtful friend, a hard-worker, and a good role model for others.
3. Teach them how to do basic activities -
Often, I hear how people think children become less capable of thinking and doing for themselves as the years pass.
Teachers, other parents, grandparents, college professors, employers and even grown children have come to this conclusion and I have a tendency to agree with them.
I am not sure if this is a result of parents just not taking the time required to teach or that children have become more resistant to learn.
Either way, I believe that God gave me the responsibility to bring up our children to be capable, admirable, responsible adults.
As a result, a few examples of things that I want to teach my children before they leave the nest are, how to:
- load a dishwasher,
- balance a checkbook,
- earn, save and spend money wisely,
- clean a house,
- cook healthy meals,
- bake decadent desserts,
- do laundry,
- ride a bike, fish and fly a kite,
- plan a party or cookout,
- appreciate music from all different genres and eras,
- responsibly use Facebook and other social media,
- safely use a cell phone and the internet,
- enjoy quiet time without electronics,
- love and respect themselves and their bodies,
- put on make-up, but have the self-esteem to wear very little,
- stand up for what they believe in and for anyone who can't themselves, while being respectful,
- set personal goals and achieve them,
- prioritize their life and relationships, with God being the most important,
- build and maintain relationships with worthwhile people,
- go above and beyond a teacher's, employer's, or friend's expectations,
- go above and beyond their own expectations,
- learn about our local and federal governments and get involved in the selection of political leaders,
- obey the law, and
the list goes on.
I have heard the saying that it's easy to be a parent, but hard to be a good parent. I couldn't agree more.
Having children is a full-time job, but it is definitely the most fulfilling and meaningful job I could ever have.
4. Be open, honest and non-judgmental -
Being raised in a family where judgment was as common as manipulation, I decided that I would try very hard to always be the type of mother that my children know loves them at all times, even when they make mistakes.
To accomplish this, I had to take a long, hard look at my upbringing and determine what weaknesses I have that might be counter-productive to this goal.
Once I recognized what challenges I faced, it was easier to be mindful of not repeating the same mistakes that were made with me.
My children's self-esteem and self-worth is more than enough motivation to ensure that I always try my absolute best to have an open, honest, non-judgmental, loving relationship with them.
Yes, they will do things that are just flat out wrong and I will call them out on it, as is a mother's job.
However, they will never feel like they are a failure or that they are incapable of making responsible decisions.
On the other hand, there will be times when their dad and I have made decisions that affect them.
To make sure that our children feel that they are in a secure environment, we will discuss the decision with them beforehand, if possible, or soon thereafter in an open, honest manner.
Then, we will take whatever time they need to talk privately with them, if needed.
All topics will be on the table, as well as specific situations, scenarios, options, results, and consequences.
5. Say, "I love you," and let them know how proud I am of them daily -
This is by far the best perk that I, as a mother, enjoy every single day.
I love to lavish hugs, kisses, praise and words of love and appreciation on my children as if they were as essential as taking breaths.
Every morning, they need to be greeted with a warm smile, hug and an, €I love you,€ followed by several more during the day and again right before they go to sleep at night.
My children, like yours, are the most awesome beings on this earth and if I can give them the wisdom to see and believe that, then I have done my job as a mother.
Every day I will commit to work on each of these 5 strategies to strengthen my relationship with each of my three children.
By tying my new year's resolutions to my children, the absolute vitality of accomplishing each of them becomes much more important.
Here's to another Inspired Minute!