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Sometimes parents have sneaky ways of teaching their children life lessons. Oftentimes, the most valuable lessons learned are those that we don’t become aware of until we are on the other side of parenting. Parents teach by showing, sharing and living their lives in a way that their children work to emulate as they become adults and parents. While my parents never sat down with me or shared with me in black and white what skills were needed to be the parent I wanted to be, they did raise me in a household that provided all the information I needed to develop these skills. Her are six invaluable lessons my parents taught me about being a parent.
Don’t talk money. Raising children is expensive. Just their basic needs add up quickly, then factor in medical expenses and it is a lot of money. However, talking about how much money they have cost you or complaining about the cost of a prescription when they are sick can put a huge amount of guilt on a child. Avoid having conversations about the cost of braces, piano lessons or any of the other expenses that may add up to aide in your children’s development as they grow up without feeling burden or guilt.
Be present. Checking our phones is second nature to most. Even having the TV on can be a huge distraction. Putting the phone away and getting down on the floor being 100 percent present in the evenings before my children go to bed is important. We are only provided a short amount of time to spend as a family in the evening before bedtime and it’s important that we utilize that time to its fullest.
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Teach the process. Somebody needs to teach a child how to go to the bank, pay bills, plan meals, do laundry, tie a tie and all of the other daily tasks we don’t even think about, though we perform them each day. My parents always took us to the bank and allowed us to be involved in how they did adult things, like going to vote. It is much less intimidating doing these things for the first time if you have seen and been told how and why they are completed in a certain way. This also provides children with the opportunity to ask questions and learn.
>> Read more: Leading By Example
Stay calm. Children feed off of their parents’ moods. If you are already in a stressful situation, do your best to not show how stressed you are in front of your children. Situations such as traveling and attending crowded events can already be stressful for children, so it’s important that they know they can count on you to stay calm. Being prepared for multiple situations will help ease their stress and yours, too!
Do your research. Children are not patient. They are not interested in waiting for you to figure out where you’re supposed to go, find directions or ask questions. With the internet, it is easy to read up and even look at maps of areas you are going to be such as airports, parks or other attractions so that you can arrive with a game plan. Knowing what to expect and being prepared for multiple situations also aides in reducing stress!
Have experiences. Take your children to fancy restaurants, musicals, dinner theaters and other “adult” places. Learning at a young age how to act in these situations will aide them when they are 22 years old and starting their first job. They will feel much more confident going to dinner knowing what to expect and how to act if they have grown up being exposed to similar situations and taught to act in these different atmospheres.
Parents teach their children in many ways and often the most important lessons may be those they are unaware they are teaching. My parents taught me some of the most important parenting lessons simply through their actions. These lessons taught me that parenting isn’t about rules or textbook learning, but rather about life experiences, being present and flexibility.