I’m not great with goals. The concept was introduced to me later in life than was ideal, and I still haven’t quite figured out how to get stuff done. Also I’m pretty busy with momstuff these days and that dictates how most of my time is spent.
Because I figured other parents might have the same conundrum that I have, I went ahead and set some goals for parents to keep in mind for 2014. They may or may not apply to you personally…
1. Stop doing your kids’ homework.
I’m a recovering perfectionist, so something that’s been very difficult for me on my parenting journey is allowing my children to do things in a less than perfect way. I know some of you have the same problem because I have seen your children’s school projects. Some of them clearly had a lot of “help” from someone older, which made for a beautiful project and great pictures on Facebook.
But what did the child learn from that experience?
Maybe it was a great collaboration and a highly educational experience. Or maybe the child learned that their work isn’t good enough for you. Or maybe she learned that if she complains enough you will do it for her.
It’s OK for a 7 year-old to turn in work that looks like a 7 year-old did it. You absolutely should be involved with your child’s take-home projects, but as a guide not as the student. Part of what your child is learning from the assignment is the patience, time management, and responsibility involved with completing a project. And once it’s completed, they have the opportunity to be proud of what they’ve accomplished. Unless is it someone else’s accomplishment.
2. Stop with the over-the-top birthday parties.
When I was growing up, there was always that one child who had a huge birthday party with awesome party favors and invited everybody in the whole class. These days? It’s pretty much every single birthday party.
It’s really OK to have a small scale, inexpensive, non-Pinterest birthday party for your child. Your child will not hate you for it. And if he or she does, you probably have more serious issues to work on than a birthday party.
Birthdays should be a big deal. Birthdays should be celebrated. But birthdays should not cause stress and credit card debt. You will be doing yourself a favor if you save the really expensive or really complicated parties for milestone birthdays. And once your child is old enough, be sure to include him or her in the conversation about how to celebrate and which friends to include. Not every child wants a huge, loud party and, conversely, some kids wouldn’t have it any other way. Your child’s personality along with your family finances and time constraints should determine what kind of party you have — not Pinterest or Facebook.
3. Stop letting your children run around like maniacs in public.
There is a time and a place for running around. A restaurant is not it. I feel many times parents are worried about disciplining their children in front of other people. This is likely not a very successful parenting technique. It’s our job to teach our children what behavior is acceptable, and sometimes that has to happen in public.
We don’t all have to agree on the methods of discipline we use for our children, but we as a society have already agreed that certain behaviors are expected in certain places. If we don’t teach our children what is expected of them, we are doing them a disservice. Sitting and eating and/or sitting and listening are things they need to know how to do.
It’s important for us to take accountability for our children’s behaviors, especially when it infringes on someone else’s space or time. It might be cute if a child runs up to a table of strangers once, but the cute wears off pretty quickly as they are trying to enjoy their meals and conversations. If the child is a toddler and you really can’t keep him or her in one place, maybe it’s time to call it an evening. This stage will pass. And once they are preschoolers, you just have to be persistent and consistent.
Parenting is a tough gig. And you don’t get a day off. And sometimes I just want to take the easy way out, don’t you? Every once it a while that is OK. But we have to remember we are in this for the long haul. They carry with them all the lessons they learn, whether they were good lessons or bad, and build on them. The foundation we help them build now will have lasting effects on their lives, whether we like it or not.
What parenting trends would you like see stopped in 2014? What do you struggle with as a parent that you wish you had an answer for?