by Anne Mattos-Leedom
Summer vacation is over for us. My daughters are on red track at Silva Valley Elementary. Our entire summer is about six weeks long. As I prepare to send them back to school with new back packs, lunch boxes and one or two new outfits, I feel a bit guilty when I realize I am actually looking forward to them returning to school.
I have my days back to myself where I can devote myself to my job, my friends and my house without CONSTANT interruptions. I also realize I am asking myself a startling question. Do I LIKE my kids? I mean really like my kids?
My mother was a wonderful mother; at least she was once the four of us kids hit eighteen. Up until that moment we were wonderful and cherished, but always slightly trying. At least one of us was. (I always have stood out from the crowd.) Daycare wasn't an option then and even if it were as available as it is today, I doubt she would have taken advantage of it. She basically wanted to like her kids and spend lots of time with us. Now let's face facts. Kids are not always as enjoyable as we would like them to be. The facts are that you either spend your time working on your kid's behavior or being a victim of their behavior. There is no middle ground when they are small.
As parents we need to make a decision when our kids our young. How much effort are we willing to expend to really help them learn to behave, to make sure they are not over stimulated, and that they understand right from wrong and that "no" means "no".
Ultimately, there is a reality all parents need to face up to. Here are a few of the new rules parents need to accept, or they will have to accept that raising their kids is going to be far more difficult then they could ever have bargained for, and that "liking" their kids will not be an option the majority of the time.
Rule Number One: You don't come first anymore. You always need to prioritize yourself and take care of yourself, but day to day, your needs will almost always come second to theirs.
Rule Number Two: Your kids will win every battle ultimately, unless you commit to working with them as a team and not a dictatorship. Kids expend an amazing amount of energy and quite effectively I might add, to "winning the battle". As a parent your greatest moments will come in learning to diffuse or avoid these battles
Rule Number Three: The amount of patience and love you give them will come back to you a hundred fold if you are committed to their moral and character development. It's true what they say that what you give, you get. Every time you are struggling with your child, ask yourself how you want to be treated. Eventually, it IS how you will be treated.
Rule Number Four: Kids need to understand you are the parent, the boss and in control of their lives, day to day. This is how they feel loved. How compassionately and calmly you communicate this will determine if they feel respected and secure.
Rule Number Five: It takes a village to raise a child, but you are still the general of the village and only you know truly what is best for your child, Never abdicate your authority or your instincts. (This includes mothers-in-laws.)
We all do the best we can as parents. We love our kids and give them as much time and direction as possible. My hope is that parents change their focus just a bit to nurture character and help their kids see how they affect others and to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. If you already do this, take it a step further. The rewards of truly "liking" your kids along with "loving" you kids will be worth the effort!
Anne Mattos-Leedom is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Parenting Bookmark. She has been quoted in Parents, Redbook and Nick Jr. Magazines and has been a guest on National Public Radio Affiliate WHWC on the show "Mental Health Today with Dr. Minette Ponick." Anne lives in El Dorado Hills.
Copyright © Anne Mattos-Leedom. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.