As parents we decide how we are going to raise our kids. Will we be carbon copies of our parents? Will we read books and try to parent “by the book”? Will we chart our own path? Or will we form our own combination of any of the aforementioned? I decided to interview our adult kids and ask them what they feel we did well or right, in their opinion, while raising them.
I would say that we took the combination route. There were things we took from our parents that we felt were going to work with our theories. I read many books and added some “book” strategies to our system. However I think the largest emphasis was placed on our own common sense. We did what we thought made sense and would produce quality human beings. My husband really likes to reference how his parents did things and that is great, but in my opinion times are different now than they were in the 1970’s. So I feel parents need to somewhat adapt their parenting to the era they are raising their kids in.
I must say I had a lot of fun sitting with our kids separately on different dates over lunch and listening to their thoughts. So what were their thoughts? The top and most repeated memories were:
We had a known policy that dinner time was family time. Our family would sit together, at the table and eat our meal. There were no distractions allowed. No TV blasting in the other room. No phones. This was our time to engage and talk about our days or what was coming in the days ahead.
Goal Setting from a young age-
Our kids were taught to set goals when they were around 6 or 7 years old. We are goal driven people, especially my husband. We listened to Zig Ziglar and later Gary Ryan Blair in the morning while getting ready for the day. This helped motivate us and get us on track with our thoughts. Each of us set short term and long term goals with rewards. It was very gratifying to hear that our kids value this life lesson.
We had family meetings monthly, sometimes weekly. During this time we would talk about what we had on our schedules. We would make our plans. We would just simply discuss anything that needed to be covered. This makes every individual feel important and valued as a member of the family.
This was a big one for me. Our kids had chore charts from the time they turned 2 years old. Of course the chores were age appropriate through the years. They started with simple chores like brushing their teeth, making their bed, caring for their pets and saying their prayers. I recently watched a video of Retired Adm. William H. McRaven stressing the importance of the simple task of making your bed every morning. He states how completing this one task affects your entire day. He is so right! I encourage you to watch it here. If we teach our kids to do this at a young age and enforce it, they will be off to a great start.
Chores need to be expected of our kids no matter how busy their lives are. This teaches them responsibility and discipline for life. Oh, and don’t forget to teach them how to do laundry.
Quality Extended Family Time-
Our kids say they really value and appreciate the time they had with our extended family while growing up. Cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents were highly involved in their lives. I know this is not possible for everyone, but if you have the opportunity make the most of it. Our family has since spread all over the country and our get-togethers have minimized.
We believe that faith is a very important gift to instill in your kids. It took us a few years to determine that our family needed this base. Our second child was almost 6 years old when we introduced faith and church to them. We are so glad we did.
Our kids were taught to budget as well as save their money. They earned a little money when they completed their weekly chore charts and more money with jobs when they were older. Ten percent of their earnings always went to savings. They would budget and really think about how they were going to spend their money. We also had outings to Toys ‘R’ Us or Target where we gave them a budget to purchase what they wanted. This was money from us, not money they earned. It was so cute to hear, “what’s our budget?” It took a while for them to learn. They would grab items that were over their budget and have to keep looking. Another great lesson.
We had a lot of routine in our lives. There were set bed times and curfews. Hygiene routines. Kisses goodnight. Morning routines. It can get crazy when you are running to all the practices, games and extra curricular activities, but routine provides stability so try your best.
Gradual introduction and some freedom to make choices-
I wouldn’t say we spoiled our kids. They had what they needed and were given things at age appropriate times. They were not the first to have mobile phones, Facebook accounts or even soda. We also gave them freedom to make their own choices, but taught them how to look at all sides. Weigh the pros and the cons and make their own decision, then we would talk about it. They say they appreciated the accountability placed on them.
Sports and Extra Curricular Activities-
They were involved in many. Oh boy was it crazy at times! Our kids are grateful for these opportunities. They learned to be team players and that it wasn’t all about them. They learned how to interact with others and how to lose and to win with dignity. They enjoyed being active.
So that sums up the things our kids think we did well. I hope you didn’t find it to be too much information. Maybe you like some of these ideas and want to implement them in your lives. (If you are a young parent) If your kids are grown, you might find it fun and informative to ask them their opinion on their life growing up. What do you think? Please share any thoughts or other strategies in the comments below. Parenting is the greatest job you will ever have. Enjoy the ups and the downs and keep on cruisin’.