I’m frequently asked, “How do you do it? How does a single mom of six kids take care of everyone? Your kids are so well-behaved; how did you teach them how to act?” Well, wait no more. I’ve come up with 7 key points that every parent needs to know. This is how you parent.
1. Say What You Mean
It’s important to say what you mean. Don’t say what you think people want to hear. Don’t say the politically correct thing. Say what you mean. You can’t be a good parent if you don’t say what you mean. For example:
“I want you to wash your teeth and brush your face and get into bed now!”
I’m too tired of telling you to go to bed to make sure I’m speaking English and putting words together that make any kind of sense.
“Ausavanjacksclayton! Get over here now!”
I’m too tired of trying to remember your names. Just come here, whatever-your-name-is!
“I don’t think it’s the best idea for you to go out with that boy.”
I have a stun gun and I will not hesitate to use it if he so much as talks to you.
2. Mean What You Say
Not only should you say what you mean, but you need to mean what you say. If you don’t mean what you say, you’re lying or at least being misleading. People won’t take you seriously or believe you if you don’t mean what you say. For example:
“You are grounded until you’re 30, Mister!”
You’re grounded until I get tired of you lying around and complaining all day and then I’ll kick you out of the house so you can hang with your friends and get out of my hair.
“Oh my gosh, you just gave me a heart attack!”
Holy cow, your room is clean! It’s got to be a sign of the apocalypse.
“When we get home, I’m going to wring your neck!”
When we get home, I won’t remember why I was even mad at you in the first place because I’m losing my mind.
3. Follow Through/Don’t Give In
You must always follow through on your threats and promises. Nothing destroys credibility faster than failing to follow through. For example:
“If you get out of bed one more time, I will duct tape you to the mattress!”
I am two minutes away from falling asleep on the couch and will never make good on that threat so you basically have the run of the house for the next 6 hours.
“Sure, sure, when you turn 8, I’ll look into getting you a pony.”
I’m betting on the fact that you’ll forget about the cokamammie horse idea almost as fast as I will.
“No, you can’t play with your sister’s phone.”
Oh for the love of God, give her the phone so she stops crying already!
4. Set a Good Example
You can’t expect your kids to act the way you want them to unless you act that way yourself. It simply doesn’t work to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” If you don’t set the example you want your kids to follow, what do you think they’ll follow? For example:
“You have to eat your vegetables to grow big and strong.”
You couldn’t pay me to eat that stuff.
“Always tell the truth.”
I don’t want to talk to them! Tell them I can’t come to the door because I’m in the shower!
“Always display integrity.”
That cashier gave me too much change. Woo hoo! Score!
5. Be Present
It’s easy to get caught up in all those things you have to do. It’s easy to put your kids on the back burner until you have more time to deal with them. But if you do that, you’re bound to hear Harry Chapin singing Cat’s in the Cradle in the dark recesses of your mind. Be there for them. Help them with their homework. Go to their concerts and games and practices. Know their friends, interests, and favorite things. Talk to them. If you don’t, this is what your kids will hear:
“Not right now, I have to pay these bills first.”
I’d rather shoot myself in the foot rather than play another round of I Spy.
“I’ll help you with your homework when I finish making dinner.”
Algebra? Are you kidding? I’d rather wrestle an alligator than to help you with math!
“Just a minute.”
I’m glued to the TV which is more important to me right now.
6. Practice Self-Discipline
Demonstrate self-control and self-discipline. Show your kids that you can control yourself and you can make wise decisions, putting the important things first instead of indulging in instant gratification. If you don’t, your children won’t learn how to self-discipline. For example:
“Sure, I’d love a hot fudge sundae!”
Diet schmiet, I’ll start tomorrow.
“I have plenty of time to finish my blog post.”
Just one more round of Scramble with Friends. I don’t really need to write a post tonight.
“How about a turn signal, you bleeping bleep bleeper!”
I have no self-control and have just inadvertently taught my kids some new colorful words.
7. Don’t Believe Everything you Hear/Trust Yourself
Lastly, and most importantly, you need to ease up! Don’t read every article, book, and blog post on parenting and freak out that you’re doing it “wrong”. Trust yourself. Who cares what “the experts” say. Use the brain that God gave you and employ common sense. Forgive yourself when you occasionally break the above rules. It happens to all of us. Crap happens. Then it passes and you move on. Don’t dwell on the negative. Parenting is only as hard as you make it out to be. Have fun! Enjoy your kids! Laugh a little! Love a lot! This is how you parent.
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