Have you heard the expression, “you are what you eat”? Well, although we won’t turn into a turnip if we eat too many of them, the expression does reflect the sense that if we eat too many chocolate donuts, we will gain weight. In the same line of thinking, our children are who we create them to become. Sure, they have outside influences and those play a big role as well, but the bottom line holds true, we, as their parents, are their first teachers. If we are sarcastic and snarky, we can not expect any less from them. If we show them love, tenderness and patience, they will learn those behaviors too. And truth be told, who wants to create a snarky kid!
If we have been emotionally injured while growing up, verbally abused or physically abused, we owe it to our children not to carry those behaviors on to our own children by modeling our parents’ behaviors. I believe that the greatest majority of parents do the best they can with the tools they have, but if you have access to more information, use it. So often, you hear the expression that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree which does seem to ring true. This is another example of how children are products of how they are raised.
Children are impressionable and gather information like sponges.It does seem that they pick up on the bad, less favorable behavior much faster and easier than the good behavior at times, but if what they see is good behavior, then that is the behavior they will give in return. This isn’t to say you will have perfect children. DNA does play a role as well, but it is my firm belief that if one person shows an impressionable child how to behave properly, in a loving manner, the child can and will learn some very valuable life lessons. Do your best to model good behavior and remember they are not tiny adults capable of thinking like an adult. They are at a completely different stage of life and their ability to reason is ever changing. At 5, they are very concrete. They don’t understand sarcasm and will take what you say as absolute truth. A 13 year old, however, has the ability to understand the sarcasm and may give it right back to you. Touche mom and dad!
Try to be patient. Yelling solves nothing. I’ve found this out the hard way. I have a tendency to yell when I get frustrated and upset. I admit I’m still a work in progress. I do my best to not let the little things bother me, but sometimes, for whatever reason, I do yell. I believe that it’s important to apologize if you are in the wrong just as much as it is important for a child to apologize when they are wrong. When you apologize to a child for yelling unnecessarily, it shows them that you, too, can make mistakes and you are truly sorry for them. Explaining why you yelled and explaining what provoked your anger doesn’t fix everything, but it does relieve their pain if you truly screw up and yell for something really stupid. I have had to do this numerous times.
Weigh the punishment and make sure it fits the crime. Making sure your kids understand there are consequences to poor behavior but without yelling can be difficult but life is much easier when you finally get it to work. My son has ADHD and when he’s exhausted he’s a bear to deal with. Trying to pre-empt that scenario can be difficult but can be managed most of the time. Consequences work. Make sure they are age appropriate and appropriate for the problem.
Remember that it’s important to show your kids love as much as it is to say it. Show them in the way you act, treat each other and be respectful. It doesn’t mean let your kids wall all over you and get whatever they want. That only breeds spoiled brats. Balance is the key.
These are all things that have taken a long time to understand in our house. Somehow, I am so blessed to have great kids. I’m still working on this mom thing though. It is still the best 24/7 job I could ever ask for. I know I wouldn’t change it for anything. I have 2 daughters ages 18 and nearly 20, and so far they have turned out to be 2 amazing young women. My younger 2 kids are 14 and nearly 9. Hopefully, they will turn out just as well, but I see a bright future for them so far. Like I say, motherhood is the most extraordinary job and pays in ways money can’t. I thank God every day for my beautiful miracles of life.