Today a friend of mine was asking on Facebook for everyone who cared to, to put a top tip for parenting as a comment. The rules were it had to be a tip someone had passed on to us and one we had used successfully with a back story included and if we know her personally a photo of our kids either now or as babies.
She is compiling a hand book of parenting for her daughter who is about to have her first child. During a conversation about the upcoming birth the daughter had said that she wished there was a handbook to parenting as she was worried about it, not just the immediate how to cut a baby’s toe nails stuff but the longer term development of a good relationship, discipline and such.
All contributions would be dressed up and printed and included in a scrapbook type affair to be presented as the handbook to parenting to her daughter at her baby shower. One of the aims was to pass on tips, another was to show the vast amount of differing advice out there and another was to show that many mothers have gone before with no guide book and we survived.
I submitted a long and a short and thought I’d share them here, if only because I thought the whole idea is a fabulous one. My short was from my aunt (my mother’s sister) when my first child was born and my mum ‘helped’ a little too much. “Just tell her ‘thank you for your advice but I am the mum now and I need to learn but you will always be the first person I turn to when I need help'”. It worked so much better than “Leave me the hell alone this is my baby”.
The long one was from an interview I saw on TV with Bill Cosby of all people many years ago, before I had kids. He said that the most important thing you can do is listen to your children. When they come home from school or from anywhere as they get older, make at least 15 minutes to sit with them, ask them about their day and then shut up and listen to them for the first 5 minutes. Don’t speak back, don’t interrupt, nod, smile, laugh, look concerned if you have to, but don’t speak and the longer you don’t speak the more they say, the more they speak to you and the more developed and deep and reflective their ‘conversation’ becomes. Not only that, but eventually they come to seek you out to talk to when they come home, it becomes a very good habit. I did this with my kids and it is so true, the less you speak the more they open up and talk to you. As much as I struggle with keeping quiet, I’ve done it and do it and listen to them. I believe that advice made the teen years the breeze they have been and kept my children and I communicating and close. Even now my daughter is grown and independent and living away from home she STILL feels compelled to call me or Skype me when she gets home from work or from any activity and talk about it and I still give her those 5 minutes and just listen.
My friend is really hoping to make this a book of epic proportions so I said I would ask if anyone in any of my networks had anything to contribute. Please share in comments if you do.