Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Practical Mothering Tips from Rozie

Nana Rozie and Rog

I asked my mother, Rozanne, to provide our little community with some mothering tips for this special week. Personally, I think she's a bit too hard on her former self (she raised five successful kids and saw a husband through army medical training), but, true to form, my mother says it like it is...

My husband and I have decided that we were too rigid as young parents. We wanted everything done our way or else. We were often not very nice. I yelled too much. In fact, my brother once observed that I was a drill sergeant. But I began to notice that calm mothers had reasonably calm children. So that’s my first observation. Pay attention to how bossy, even mean, you are, and decide if that is working for you! I actually think most parents are kinder and gentler now than in the past. I hope so. Home should not be a battleground or a police station.

Value each child as an individual.
In fact, value each child, period. I used to say I had 5 “only children”. Don’t lump your kids together too much, in your mind at least. Each has special traits and therefore certain needs. You have to know each child. I had a very strong desire to help each child reach his or her potential as much as possible. It takes time and creativity.

Anne wrote a post on control recently. I hope you read it. It’s hard to get over wanting to force our children to be what we want them to be. But if you constantly exert your will, because you are bigger and the boss, the time will come when your older and larger child won’t want to do anything you want, even good things they might actually want to do, because they want to exert complete independence from your control.

Be a good role model. Example is so important. You can’t expect your children to develop good habits if you aren’t working on good habits yourself. Bad behavior of any type in parents only serves to validate bad behavior in their children.

Value yourself, and take care of yourself. I think mothering is the hardest job anyone can have, and usually one we are unprepared for. It takes every kind of energy and courage and many skills. It takes true unselfishness. I didn’t like the bland term “homemaker” and preferred to call myself a “career mother.” See your role for what it is - a very important one, and one only you can do.

Try to have an orderly home. Your days will be smoother and you and your children happier. A friend once taught me that any big mess needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible. I learned of one productive, quilt-making, busy mother of many who never went to bed at night without a picked-up, dishes done, etc. home. Which brings me to another point. Try to get up earlier than your children, so you can take care of your own needs and prepare for the day.

Establish family “rules”, call them patterns if you prefer. Here are a few random examples... Because of a couple of worrisome incidents we decided not to have our children do sleepovers. For sleepover birthday parties we would pick them up late in the evening. We did farm out our kids a few times for trips, but one of our decisions was not to leave our kids much at all. My husband had a rule that if a child had a request involving a friend that friend could not be present when the request was made. He also made me aware early on that our young children were at friends’ homes or we had friends over too often, that we needed to raise our own children. Another important rule was that if a child stayed home from school, there would be no playing with friends or doing sports that day. We also wouldn’t allow our kids to be rudely critical of teachers or other adults. Some rules or patterns should be obvious, such as getting homework done right after school before playing.

Learn and practice good communication skills. Your children need to know that their thoughts and feelings are important to you, even when you think their thoughts or attitudes are ridiculous. (Don’t let them know you think that, even through your facial expressions.) Teach yourself to be calm, not shocked. You need to know about their lives. You need your children to be comfortable talking to you. This becomes crucial in the teenage years when you need to not be na├»ve about what your children are exposed to. Just remember to be a parent, not a peer.

Remember that very little is set in stone. I was relieved to learn fairly early that children change rapidly, that disturbing traits and inappropriate behaviors can be dealt with, or may even just disappear.

Life will present challenges. In the first 20 years of our marriage we moved often and had many childbirth issues, in addition to the stress of my husband’s job. I kept two guiding words in my mind - dignity and integrity. As I got busier and busier with my family I added the word diligence. When I had teens I added the word vigilance. Those four words helped me stay focused, and sane too.

My last thought--Your children need you to be happy. I think I was too sober and serious as a young mother. Have fun with your children. We are to have joy in this life. Delight in your children. At all ages they have precious qualities. Notice those qualities. Soak in their vitality. All too soon you will have an empty nest.

I'm sure you can see why I call my mother daily for mothering advice. Thanks, Mom, for your wisdom and influence.



Scroll down for a Mother's Day Wish List suggestion;
we'll be sharing pretty li'l things we'd love to own all week long.
And we'd love to know what you're wishing for as well.


Sarah said...

I love this post. I agree with Anne, Rozanne shouldn't be too hard on herself, after all look at how her children turned out!

jeanine said...

What wonderful wonderful advice! Thank you!

Vicky said...

Loved reading this.
I feel like a hard/ mean mother but i'm glad to read that I'm not alone and that I can do something about it... well try to.

Andrea said...

Thanks so much for this! I needed these words of wisdom today.

Kinyon Family said...

Wow - what great advice! Thanks!

Joan said...

Rozie! You are a fountain of inspiration and wisdom. Thank you for sharing your insights with us young mothers. I needed every word today. Happy Mother's Day to you, dear :)
And for the record: I think you did marvelously with your children. Anne happens to be one of my favorite people alive.

Emily said...

Thanks Rozie! I needed these words today as my patience is thin with Claire. I really loved those guiding words, I think I will use them from here on out. Thank you!

Melissa said...

Great advice. I love that it is written down, and yes, I can see why you call her for advice! :D

Matt and Joanna said...

I loved reading this post! Thank you, thank you. I really needed this today... this week.

Heather said...

Loved it! Wonderful advice.

sumthinghappened said...

Well written, fantastic advice. Thank you.

Rachael said...

I resonated with so many of these ideas! Two in particular that I really liked: the emphasis on being kind, happy, and calm as a mother, and the discussion of an orderly home. I am a neat freak, and I always worry if that's going to be worse for my children--people say all the time, "Oh, your kids won't remember how clean your house was," but it's something that's really important to me, since I am calmer and more relaxed with a clean home, and I feel like our home is more inviting to visitors, our family, and the Spirit. So I really appreciated that note in this post!!