I’m sitting in my usual spot on the couch as I write this, and I can hear my son downstairs packing. I have to say goodbye to him today as he heads off back to college after a busy three weeks at home. The door of the dryer just shut, and I heard him clean out the vent. I am laughing to myself thinking – his wife will love that he not only knows to do that, but that he actually does it.
And then, I started laughing to myself.
I remember a day when a friend told me that her son did not want to clean his room, and that she was having a difficult time getting him to cooperate. He felt she was asking too much, so she explained to him that he was very lucky not to be living in my house, where my sons had to clean toilets and scrub floors. She meant no harm, but I immediately hung up the phone and called my mother. “Am I too hard on my kids making them clean with me?” She laughed, and I remember her saying, “No. Some woman is really going to appreciate that they know how to do that, some day.” About a week later, I was painting the stairway going to our basement, and my sons wanted to help. I gave them each a cup of paint and a paintbrush, and they very proudly tackled the tedious job of painting the floor boards all the way down the stairs, and they did a fabulous job. Not long after, that same little boy who didn’t want to clean his room was over and threw a shoe violently down the stairs. My oldest son, Rory, jumped up and hollered, “Don’t do that! I just got done painting those floor boards!” I just smiled inside. My mom was right.
This week I watched as my son purchased his very first truck with his own hard-earned money. I sat on his couch and watched him kiss his wife as she came home from work. I saw the desk he is refinishing to sell so that he can make some extra money to support his family. He hugged me when I left. “Call me when you get home, so I know you’re home safely.” If it were possible, I’m convinced my heart and soul were smiling.
This is not a bragging moment, so please do not misunderstand me. This is just me, sitting on the couch listening to my son, reflecting back on the most important job I’ve ever had. I’m Rory and Ian’s Mum.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but along the way I’ve picked up a few nuggets of wisdom, and I have 11 minutes to share them before I must be out the door. So here goes……..
- Speak slowly to your little ones. Toddlers cannot process you speaking to them as adults.
- Stop talking and let them process what you say. When they start babbling, let them. You are teaching them how to take turns and not interrupt people.
- When they want to pour their own milk – let them. (Get a really small jug. They sell them often in supermarkets with kool-aid or fruit drink in them. Empty it, and fill it with milk, and put it at their eye level in the refrigerator). If they spill it, LET THEM CLEAN IT UP. This teaches them responsibility, instead of entitlement.
- When you fold clothes, let them help. Wash cloths are easy. Even if they do not fold them to your satisfaction, tell them what a great job they did. Don’t re-do their job, because that tells them they could have done better. That doesn’t do much for self esteem.
- Eat at the kitchen table. Eat at the kitchen table. Eat at the kitchen table. Talk about your day there. Do homework there. Color WITH THEM there.
- NO CELL PHONES AT THE TABLE.
- Pray for your children. Pray for their future spouses. Pray for your future grandchildren.
- Don’t tell them not to do something, and then do it yourself. They WILL do what you do.
- Let them make their own beds.
- Teach them how to do laundry when they are old enough, and LET them do it now and then, so that they do not develop a sense of entitlement. There’s too much of that these days. It’s not that you don’t have time or don’t want to do it for them, but it teaches them responsibility AND time management.
- Give them a curfew, and enforce it.
- Send them outside to play. Fresh air and exercise is healthy. They will be pooped out at night and fall asleep easier.
- Encourage “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” I am convinced that young people do not get enough rest because they are in bed, but their eyes are glued to their phones half of the night. That’s not a good night’s rest.
- If you are a single parent, DO NOT TALK POORLY about their father in front of them. It reflects poorly on YOU, not the father. Eventually, whoever he is – he will define himself to them, good o bad, either way.
- If you are a single parent, do not develop a sense of entitlement. Be an over-comer instead. Get mentors for your kids. Get a good, solid circle of friends and family who love and support you.
- Teach them by example how to send handwritten thank you notes. It’s kind. It’s thoughtful. It’s the right thing to do.
- Teach them that everything is a gift from God. When they get their first jobs, even if they are just household chores, God gets his portion first, then save at least half, and then what’s left is theirs to spend how they wish.
And my 11 minutes are up………… 😉
Thanks for letting me share my heart with you this morning! Now, to say goodbye and shed some tears.