A Grandparent's Advice to Parents
"Everyone should be a grandparent before they're a parent." I don't know who first penned this genetically impossible advice, but they're right. We grandparents have much better hindsight than foresight, and, if we could do it over again, most of us would make some adjustments. So just in case there are young parents reading this, who are wiser and more teachable than I was at their age, here is one grandparents' advice to parents:
Find a way every day to show your children that you love and believe in them. Do a lot of hugging and don't stop when they become teenagers.
Take time to know each of your children as individuals. What are their dreams and fears? What are they good at? What can you do to help them develop their own unique interests and abilities?
Set and enforce boundaries. Be willing to be the bad guy. Don't let your own guilt keep you from being tough when you must be.
Be candid about your own mistakes. Be willing to change your mind, admit wrong, and openly apologize.
Be patient. Remember that the path to success is paved with failures, and don't forget that one of the reasons kids have trouble being perfect is that they have imperfect parents.
Be accepting. Remind your children often that home is a place they can find forgiveness and new beginnings.
Remember that some opportunities come only once. Few of us grandparents feel regret because we once missed an important business meeting to spend time with a child.
Don't judge other parents or children. It will come back on you. Never say "never" (as in "My child would never do that").
Don't over-program. Leave your child room to be creative.
Begin at an early age to give children responsibility and don't be afraid to let them fail. Also don't cover for them when they do. Part of growing up is learning how to mend one's own mistakes.
Laugh a lot.
Be silly together.
Sing a lot.
Let your children know they live in a harsh world. Talk candidly of accidents and crime. Maybe let them role play how they would respond to each. Also things such as camping in the wilderness can help children develop resourcefulness and toughness.
Be concerned about the hearts and minds of children. Work on their "want-tos." If they develop a love for things that are good for them, you won't worry as much when they leave your home.
Help your children find mentors such as scout or school leaders, coaches, youth directors, summer camp counselors, and family friends (remember the times; you must do some investigating and screening on your own). Also develop your own mentors (can be your parents and grandparents) to help advise you about parenting.
Do things to keep yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. If you allow your children to keep you from daily exercise, alone time, or regular times away from the children with a spouse and/or friends; you will find it hard to be a good parent.
Finally, give yourself permission to really enjoy your kids. What could you do right now that would give pleasure to both you and your child? Some day you will long for such an opportunity.
from Best Years, by Mike Bellah