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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Children Don't Come with a Manual

Children Don't come with a Manual

A Letter to A Mother,

Just about everything we own and purchase comes with instruction manuals. We go to school for years to hone the skills we need to succeed in the professions of our choices. Yet, that tiny little bundle of joy that you will love and nurture until the end of your days, comes with no guideline, no return policy and no specs.

Being able to create a new life doesn't automatically make us good mothers. A six week prenatal course, and the unsolicited advice of family and friends, doesn't prepare us for the trials and tribulations of motherhood. We can read a thousand books on the do and don't, hows and whys. But the truth is that each of us faces our own unique journey with our children. Read wisely, learn from the information you read and use the advice with caution. There are so many opinions and views its mind boggling.

I am an Early Childhood Educator and when I had my first child I considered myself well armed for the years to come. But the truth is I made many mistakes and in retrospect I would have done a few things differently. Some of the teenage years were painful and I often prayed for time to pass quickly. But we survived! My children are now young adults and I am so very proud of them.

The early years are the easiest. Cherish every minute, every sound, every hand print and spilled glass of milk, honor the adventures, and the songs you sing together. Those memories will warm your heart and bring tears of joy to you long after the house grows quite. And it will come, that time when they break away from you to follow their own paths.

Set clear guidelines for your children.  DON"T overindulge and remember that NO is not a bad work. No one can have everything they want all the time and giving in to your child's every demand gives them a sense of entitlement that will land them into trouble. The teenage years are the most challenging and the ones that will keep you awake long after your children get home from that party. You worry about everything; drugs, drinking, driving and drinking, sex, school marks, bad friends. Guess what? You have little control over any of it. It's a roll of the dice. Hopefully, by the time they reach high school the voice of reason you tried to embed will play like a tape recorder in their head everytime they are faced with choices.

Respect you children as a citizen of the world with rights. There is never enough love but don't confuse that deep love with a need to spoil them. Don't be afraid to set expectations for them; to keep their rooms clean, to work hard in school, to attend family functions.

One of the best things you can do for your children is put them into organized sports; it keeps them focused, teaches them how to be part of a team, to follow rules, to cooperate and negotiate. And most of all, well into their teen years, it allows you to stay bonded with them.

And perhaps you may consider introducing a musical instrument; studies have linked school success with the playing of instruments.

Support your children through good times and especially bad times. They will make many mistakes but those mistakes will define them.  Create a relationship wherein your children don't fear your anger when they fail. Instead they should know that there will be clear consequences for the choices they make.  We all mistakes!!!

Take time for yourself-being a mom doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the person you were before your children were born. And remember you can't be a mother and father to your child.  It takes a village to raise a child-find yours!

I wish you all a wonderful journey!!