1. Let your kids be kids. Do not expect them to think with an adult brain. Let them be silly and childish, mope and sometimes be rebellious as this is part of growing up. When they overdo this, then you bring the consequences. That is your job.
2. Remember that you are The Adult, which means you are the Parent, not the friend. This is not your childhood, it is your child’s childhood. You can spoil your grandkids later. Right now you are the Parent. Teach your children that they go by your rules while under your roof but when they grow up and get their own “roof” then they can do things the way they want. Teach them this and you are giving them half of what they need to hold down a job.
3. You may spare the rod, but if you don’t tell your children “No”, you WILL spoil the child.
4. Teach your children, don’t just yell at them when they do something wrong. TEACHING means you have to interact face to face with your child, telling them what to do with a situation they are facing, then follow up after they have tried it out. Be willing to learn by trial and error and as you do show your children they are allowed to learn in the same way.
5. Teach your children tools for living: how to get along, how to lose gracefully, how to share, how to solve problems, how to take responsibility, how to gracefully handle failure. Allow your child to experience the small and big losses during their childhood so they can learn how to deal with loss successfully while still safe under your roof. In other words, don’t go buy a dog that looks like the one that died. Allow your child the dignity to experience grief. If you do not teach your children tools for living, your job of parenting may never end: even when they are fully grown.
6. Love your children and protect them, but not by keeping your children inside all the time. Teach them how to handle the pedophiles and bullies. Teach them to tell on these creeps to a trusted adult and keep telling until they find an adult who will believe them and help them. And remember that most pedophiles are family members, extended family members and/or trusted friends. The priest or coach or boy scout leader caught represents only 3% of pedophiles out there. But the idea is to lock up the creeps not your child. Our children need to re-claim their streets. Help them by giving them tools and teaching them not to go anywhere with a stranger. You check out places they are going to stay, talk to the adults there, even if you have to check them out at the police station. You are to do the checking of adults that will care for your child, but if you don’t catch it ahead of time, remember this is Life, and none of us get it perfect. Let your child know this too. If your child is a teenager and mature enough, take them with you to the police station when you are checking out whether or not any of the adults are repeat offenders. This is how children learn: be the role mode. We do our best, that is all any of us can do, including you and including them. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I feel I know enough about this to make these recommendations.
7. Don’t forget that children need to EXPERIENCE things to learn. That includes sometimes falling down, sometimes having their feelings hurt, sometimes even breaking a bone. Teach them how to handle that.
8. Remember that you are NOT your child’s “friend”. You are way more important than that. Your child will have many friends through his or her life, but only one or two parents. You MUST give up your own need for their approval if you love them. Your child should be seeking your approval not the other way around. You must teach them and sometimes be the “bad guy” who tells them no. If you miss this step you are not a parent, only a babysitter.
9. Most of all: Appreciating your child is not the same as “being their friend”. Children need to know when you approve of things. Pick those carefully, but when deserved, don’t be afraid to pour on the love. Your child needs it.
10. Listen, REALLY listen to your children, they have a lot to say.
Let your child experience life. When something goes wrong, give them the tools to handle it. If you want your child to grow into a capable adult you must allow them to learn while they are still under your roof. If you don’t have the tools find someone who does, and show your children how to ask for help all in one action.
If you try to protect your children from the world, all you do is wrap them in Plastic Wrap.
That only suffocates them.