Seasoned - To render competent through trial and experience.
The other day I was talking to a mom at my little son’s school. As we spoke, she mentioned she had just become aware that I was the mother of teenage boys. Apparently, she thought my little son was my only child.
As we spoke I realized how much more parent life experience I had than her. Being the mother of teenagers is very different than being the mother of school age children or toddlers. The main difference is that I have done the job of mothering longer. Note I didn’t say better, but merely longer.
There is something to be said for being a ‘seasoned’ mom. The longer you have been a mom the more things you know. Things that used to keep me up at night with worry about the boys, no longer do. It’s because I’ve watched my boys overcome obstacles. They survived and so did I.
Today I thought I would share a few thoughts about parenting through my ‘seasoned’ mom eyes.
Everything is a phase.
Years ago a friend of mine, who is the mother of four children, gave me some advice. She told me, “Everything is a phase when it comes to children. Just when you think you can’t handle one more moment…it’s over.” When she told me this I was the mother of one small toddler and she was the mother of four school age and teenage children. I had no idea how right she was with her advice.
Many times I have been at wit’s end dealing with a situation with my boys and then suddenly it’s over. Potty training is one issue that comes to mind. My oldest son did not fully potty train until age 5. At the time I was ill with worry he would enter kindergarten as the only non-potty trained child. I feared he would be ridiculed or shamed. The worry consumed me, but then one day after his fifth birthday he potty trained himself. The situation that had caused me grief and worry for months was over.
Parents are the most important factor in a child’s education.
Occasionally, I talk to a parent at one of my boys’ school who is unhappy with the education their child is receiving. They complain about the administration, the teachers, the curriculum, or the environment. When I was a younger parent I used complain, but not as much anymore. I have come to realize the most important factor in my child’s education is my parenting.
This doesn’t mean teachers don’t influence my child’s education. It means I am the one who must find the best place for my child to be educated, I must be my child’s advocate if something is not working, I must make sure my child is supported, and I must provide a peaceful home life so my child can focus on school.
A school is my partner helping make sure my child is educated. But the reality is I was my child’s first teacher and the only one who stay with them for their entire life. My influence is the most powerful.
Praise alone doesn’t lead to high self-esteem.
I recently read an article recently discussing the over use of praise from parents to increase their child’s self-esteem. Praise from a parent could include words like, “Great job getting an A on your math test.” or ”You are such a dedicated student.” The article (sorry I can’t remember where I read it) mentioned how too often parents feel positive words of praise for their child will lead to higher self-worth.
I believe positive self-esteem comes from doing and being present. Accomplishing difficult tasks, overcoming obstacles, and following through on commitments are ways of doing things to increase self-esteem. However, another important part of is being present. Being present, as a way to increase a child’s self-esteem, means making sure parents are available physically and mentally for the child. It means spending time with a child to let them know they are valued.
Imagine a friend who constantly tells you how wonderful you are, but yet never seems to have the time to get a cup of coffee or chat on the phone. If your friend continued to say great things about you and never committed to spending time with you eventually you would begin to doubt your value to the friend.
The same idea applies to children. The more time a parent spends with a child, the more the child sees how the parent values them. Children need feedback from parents when they are doing things well, but words are not enough. Providing children opportunities to accomplish things on their own and showing them how they are valued by spending time with them are far greater ways to increase a child’s self-esteem.
Being a parent has been my greatest life accomplishment and challenge. I still have much to learn, but being a ‘seasoned’ parent means I know a few more things than the new one.