I spend a lot of my day talking to moms and dads about the challenges of bringing up children. All parents, newbies and veterans alike, need advice now and then. As a mother of three, I am no exception. In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to pass along some of the best words of parenting wisdom my own mom has shared with me over the years, in no particular order.
- “The average child is more resilient than the average marriage.” Staying connected with your spouse takes time and effort. Your kids will be okay (thrilled, actually!) if you throw a frozen pizza in the oven and hand them over to that goofy teenaged babysitter. Then you and your spouse can go out and talk about something other than the kids. (Trust her on this – 46 years of wedded bliss and counting!)
- “That’s funny, I didn’t see a ‘For Sale’ sign out front.” That’s how Mom responded when I apologized for the state of my house after the arrival of baby number three. Those newborn days are always an exhausting blur. Anyone who cares that you still haven’t folded yesterday’s laundry shouldn’t really be visiting anyway.
- “What should our second vegetable be?” Dinner was never complete without two vegetables, a green and a yellow. I can’t remember anyone in our house not liking vegetables – no cajoling, no bribery, no punishment. But I’m pretty sure butter was involved. That said…
- “You can atone for a lot of nutritional sins with a relish tray.” So set the kids up with a pizza, a babysitter, and some raw vegetables.
- “Just let me read for 20 minutes!” Reading was not a chore in our home – it was a delight. Begging kids to read doesn’t entice them to read. Begging them to let you read shows them that it really is enjoyable. As we say in pediatrics, “Let them catch you reading for pleasure.”
- “Let’s make up the rules.” One year, one of my kids received an unbelievably complicated pirate board game for Christmas. I spent half an hour setting it up and reading the instructions, then handed the Milton Bradley rule manifesto over to my mom. She tossed it back. “The pirates go around the board and steal treasure! Arrr!” The idea is to have fun, remember?
- “Come sit by me.” Honestly, when we think about our own childhood, was there anything that made us happier? Parenting is not always complicated. Sometimes it’s enough to be loving and present.
So, thanks Mom, for the advice, spoken and unspoken. And happy Mother’s Day, everyone!
What’s the best advice your mom has ever given you? What parenting wisdom do you hope to pass on to your own kids?
Dr. Suzanne Condron is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Fort Bend Medical and Diagnostic Center whose clinical interests include obesity, nutrition, allergies, asthma, childhood development, literacy, infectious diseases and preventive medicine.