A friend of mine on Facebook, who is the mother of a couple of young kids, asked me for my thoughts on how to parent well. She seemed to think, and this still cracks me up, that I am doing something right in the raising of my Varmint and Critter. She bases this on my postings on Facebook and here on Mama Boe.
My immediate response is that there is no single way to raise a kid. My second response is that life is so dynamic that one moment you think you’re doing it well, and the next you are sure you’ve scarred them for life. My third response is it depends on how you define ‘parent well’. If by ‘parent well’ you mean help your children grow up to be productive, positive, content members of society, that is one thing. If you mean that you survive the process, that’s quite another.
She said, “No, seriously.”
I was serious.
But since that didn’t mollify her, I gave her a trite little nugget to cling on to like a drowning woman to a life-preserver. I thew out the ol’, “Try to encourage them twice as much as you criticize them.” Because kids tend to only remember the negative for some god-forsaken reason. I swear, despite every time I’ve told my kids how wonderful they are, they only remember the time I called them butt-heads.
And they can be butt-heads.
But then it hit me. EVERY life we touch we would do better to encourage twice as much as criticize. Not just our children…. but also our neighbor’s children and our neighbors and their parents and their dog. My trite little nugget actually had substance when I gave it a moment of thought. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be told what I’m doing right as opposed to what I’m doing wrong.
You want to raise your kids to be happy and positive? Show them that. Live that. And then, while you’re at it, show the rest of the world, too. It’s hard to do that when you’re in a funk, or when your bitchy, or when things around you go awry. But even in all those instances, the point is no less true.
Lift up more than you pull down.
And that includes yourself. So many people I know love to tear themselves down. It’s easier for them to believe they are screw ups than it is to believe they are wonderful. I joke around and say I’m slow-witted, or fat, or whatever silly thing might make a joke, but I AM jesting. I really do like myself. There is no one I’d rather be.
In trying to help out this lovely young mother, I ended up getting smacked upside the head with my own pithy truth. I went from ‘hug ’em more than you yell at ’em,’ to ‘love and accept yourself.’
Anthony Robbins has got NOTHIN’ on me.
So there it is: Spend twice as much time praising as you do criticizing. It applies to everyone. Your kids. Your spouse. Yourself.
She asked if I had any other nuggets of wisdom for her.
I figured I was on a roll, so I added:
“Never give a child a drum”