Raising kids is a never-ending learning process. I have two teenagers and little one who is just about 8, going on just about 35. They are all girls, not sure if that makes things easier or harder, or just different. I consider myself a strict parent, but I do allow a good amount of freedom to my girls. I have rules, and they are expected to follow them, but I love when my children form their own opinions on topics and express them freely. Down with the old saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” I believe that children are a gift for us to mould, but also to learn from as well. I have learned a great deal from my daughters, and I bet they have no idea.
My oldest daughter has taught me patience. Not because she is badly behaved, quite the opposite, she is a stickler for the rules. She is that child would tell on herself, knowing she would have consequences, simply because she knew she did something wrong and wanted to come clean. She needed to clear her own conscience, and she needed reassurance that it would be okay in the long run. She looked to me for that validation. She also knew that no matter what she did, I would always be more upset if she lied about it than if she had just told me the truth. So I do what any good parent should do, I listen, I enforce consequences, and offer time off for good behavior. Wait, that sounds more like a prison guard.
My second daughter, my middle child, is my gypsy in the wind. She was always so carefree and easy going, until middle school. At that point she became far more anxious and concerned about others’ opinion of her. She is not the tattle on herself kind of girl. She’s more the, “My older sister watches me and narcs on me if I do anything too stupid,” kind of girl. I watch her like a hawk, mostly because she is naive and thinks the world is full of good people. She doesn’t understand the world has some horrible, sadistic people in it and we are only trying to protect her from those people. Her anxiety probably couldn’t handle it at this point. She is sweet, caring, a little sassy, sensitive, and driven by emotions.
My third daughter is very much a mix of the first two. It is quite odd, really. If you took my first two daughters and smushed them into one person, you would get my last. She is smart, sassy, always on the side of right, but not going to narc on herself. She is an emotional being, and yet very logical and rational. In some ways she is the easiest because I have so much experience with each aspect of her personality from the previous two girls. She is cute and quirky, bright and affectionate. An all around awesome kid, just like her sisters.
My children have taught me how to love myself. Through loving them and wanting to be the best mom I could ever be, I learned the most important thing to teach them, self-love. I have to exemplify that which I want them to embody. If I want them to be strong, independent, self-loving women, I have to BE that for them, put my money where my mouth is. In order to be good parents, we have to be good to ourselves first and foremost. We have to exemplify to our kids how valuable human life is, especially our own. If we want them to grow up and be happy, successful, contributing members of society, we have to be that in our own life.
I have learned more being a parent than I could in any school, conference, or type of training. I have learned about myself, my children, and people in general. Parenting is not easy, but it is fulfilling, rewarding, and the most important job ever. It is our duty to our children and ourselves to be good to ourselves, work towards attaining our goals, pursue our dreams, and maintain our boundaries with others. Make YOU your own top priority.