As you already know if you are a mom or dad, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. I made many mistakes as a parent and if I had it to do over, I’d probably change the way I handled some issues. But hindsight is usually 20/20 and it does me no good to wish that I’d done some things better.
Our kids are now 22, 25, and 28 and I am very proud of all three of them. I know that even with our imperfections, my husband and I did some things right too.
We made some hard choices that we will never regret, and I hope that sharing them with you will help you think twice about the choices you are making now as a parent of young kids.
These are the top 10 things we will never regret doing as we raised our kids.
We taught our kids to believe.
You may not be religious, but there is something you can pass on to your kids that will shape them into compassionate and honest adults. Believing in something bigger than themselves gives them a purpose and a direction. Whether you are Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish, or whether you just want your kids to have morals and be kind to others.
As a faith-based family, we taught our children to follow God. Having that as a foundation shaped their entire outlook on life. Establish core values in your home and raise your children to believe in those values.
We showed our kids how to communicate.
We shared highs and lows at dinner, we listened to anything they had to say, we were honest with them about some of our own struggles, we asked questions and we encouraged them to share their thoughts and feelings without judgement.
Communication takes work, but if you want a healthy family, it’s a requirement.
We took a risk.
When our kids were 4,7, and 10, we moved across the country to be near family. My husband had no job, but we felt in our hearts it was the right move. I remember feeling like we were jumping off a cliff and could not see the bottom, but taking that risk was probably the single most important decisions we’ve ever made as parents. The family influence it offered made a huge impact on our kids.
Sometimes, for the sake of your kids, you have to step out into the unknown.
We laughed a lot.
Silliness is the secret ingredient of parenting that adds spice to your home. Laughter breaks down walls, builds bonds, and heals. Don’t ever take yourself so seriously that you can’t let loose and have fun with your children.
We stuck to our guns.
Sometimes being a parent means you have to be tough even when your heart is breaking inside. Our kids need us to stand by our promises, our rules, and our convictions. Make sure your No is No and your Yes is Yes.
We knew when to break the rules.
But even the rule of sticking to your guns should be broken now and then, and the tricky part of parenting is knowing when to forget the rules.
Every child does not need the same discipline, the same boundaries, or the same freedoms. You know your kids and you know when sometimes a family rule needs to be broken, whether it’s relaxing a consequence, or throwing bedtime out the window for a spontaneous family outing.
We made family matter…alot.
Our kids knew the value of extended family because we showed it in many ways–from our cross-country move to be near them to making sure we gathered with them frequently. And that priority of family seeped into our own home between just us five as we did our best to have valuable family time. We were busy, yes. We had three kids playing sports and a dad who coached, but we found ways to be together. It was a mindset and when you have family as a core value, you make it happen.
We made our marriage a priority.
We continued to date and worked on communicating daily. We knew that a strong marriage was good for our kids as well as for us.
We let our kids learn to fight for themselves.
This is a weaning process, for both parents and child. When our kids were babies and toddlers, we automatically jumped in to help. As they grew, we disciplined ourselves to hold back so that our children could learn to fight their own battles, without our rescue attempts at every turn.
We frequently expressed our love.
We made it a point to express our love physically and verbally: hugging, playful wresting, saying I love you or I’m proud of you.
But we also knew that love had to be shown, not just expressed. It meant being there–at their games, their musical plays, for dinners and bedtimes, even for school field trips when we could. Our kids knew and felt our love and I believe that has made them secure in who they are today.
I always said I wanted to end life with no regrets. I’m not so sure that’s truly possible anymore. I think we will always think of something we wish we had done differently.
What are the things you want to say you don’t regret when your kids are grown?
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents.You can also find her on Facebook , Twitter and Youtube.