Raising children is one of the most important roles you will ever have. The moment your child is born, he relies on you for his every need including food, clothing, and security. That is a huge responsibility to undertake and sometimes it can seem overwhelming.
My parents were “old school” and raised us with many of the values and expectations that my grandparents had taught them growing up. I was taught such virtues as respect your elders, honor our country and military, do the best job at whatever job you are doing, a phone call goes a long way (but in person is better), and treat people how you would want to be treated.
I have three children. Hannah is 18, Jack is 15, and Paul is 5. My older children would say my parenting style was like a velvet brick: stern, but loving. They understood that I was mom first, friend second. Was I always popular with them? No, but I wasn’t afraid of hurting their feelings by saying no. A wise woman once told me “stick to your guns.” It’s easier to say yes than to do the work it takes to say no. It was hard saying no to my children when I knew they really wanted something, but I made it a point to always stick by what I thought was appropriate.
They would cry and fuss, but I never backed down. Looking back and knowing how my children turned out, it’s one of the most important things I did. The fruits of my labor are now paying dividends. They are respectful, honest, loving, smart young adults.
One of the best compliments I received was from Hannah and Jack’s Mandarin teacher. She is from China and has a very strict, regimented way of teaching—a style that most children rebel against. She emailed to let me know how much she appreciated the job I did with Hannah and Jack and to tell me how hard-working and respectful they are. It brought tears to my eyes knowing they had been listening to to me all these years.
So my advice to parents is: don’t give in to your child’s every want, and don’t waffle on consequences. Stick to your guns and create those boundaries, because the best feeling is when your child comes to you and says, “Thank you mom, for loving me. I understand now.”