When my daughter was about three years old, and I was exasperated with how to handle her in a particularly challenging parenting situation, I told her, “I’m not really sure what I’m doing—I’ve never been a mom before.”
While it’s usually good to be authentic in our parenting, my words could’ve sent the message that I wasn’t confident in my job as a mom, and that she couldn’t really trust me with that responsibility. I realized later, that she might grow up thinking that since it appeared that I was at a loss for direction, she could tell me how to parent! (Of course, teenagers have lots of parenting advice for their moms, but I didn’t need to encourage that mindset in a preschooler!)
It’s not a bad thing to let our children know we’re fallible, but for the most part, we want our children to see us as a rock, the steady presence they can lean on and turn to. That’s one of the qualities of a good parent we want to cultivate. Here are the 6 things moms need to be for their children.
1. Be your child’s rock.
It’s okay to let our children see us dealing with the ups and downs of life in an authentic way. The key is letting them see us dealing with life’s challenges in a solid way. Show them by being a mom worthy of imitation how to handle the tough times, because if they see you crumble when faced with your own problems, how will they feel confident enough to turn to you with their troubles?
No matter what’s going on in your life, do your best to be a steady, dependable presence for your child. You want them to feel like mom’s got this. That doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Yes, you may be a rock, but no man, or mom, is an island.
2. Be your child’s cheerleader.
Show your children you believe in them by cheering them on. In literal terms, that means cheering them on in sports, at recitals, and making a fuss over their impromptu plays at home or their latest iMovie.
Give criticism less often than you do compliments (In fact, here are 99 compliments for you to give your kids). And if your child sees you as a cheerleader who really does think they’re great, they’ll be able to take your advice with less defensiveness.
3. Be your child’s advocate.
We want our children to develop greater independence as they age, but always be on the lookout for the times you need to swoop in and advocate for your child. It can be something as dramatic as being direct with a coach who is treating your child unkindly or as subtle as saying nice things about your child in front of his teacher.
No one loves your child as much as you do. You are the one who knows him best and knows what he needs. Sure, let your child try to fend for himself, but be prepared to stand up for what your child needs.
4. Be your child’s sage.
I may not be able to understand my son’s math homework, but I can direct him to the people and places he can turn to when he needs help. No mom can be an expert on everything, but we do want to be a place of resource for our children when they need advice or help.
To be the wise advisor our child needs, let your children see you go through the motions of making choices. Explain to him what you considered before you acted. Make good choices in your own life so that they will trust you in coming to you for advice.
5. Be your child’s home.
Your child needs you to be the safest, most comfortable, most love-filled place in his world. You need to be your child’s home. No matter what is going on in her life, she needs to feel that with you she has a place where she can find peace.
Your child needs you to be the safest, most comfortable, most love-filled place in his world. You need to be your child’s home.
That can be a tough one for moms. Our lives are so hectic that we feel scattered and stressed and our children sense that. Then, instead of being a loving home base for our children, we’re on edge and angry or just too busy to give them our attention.
Just the other night, my daughter and I were standing at the end of the driveway waving goodbye to some guests we’d had over. I was ready to zip back inside and start cleaning when my daughter said, “Let’s walk, Mom.” It was a beautiful, cool night and as we walked, I put my arm through hers and pulled her close as we made our way down the sidewalk.
She started talking about school in a general sense and then she went a little deeper, sharing thoughts about herself and others. We weren’t in our house, but I could tell by the way she talked, she felt at home.
6. Be your child’s good role model.
If I want my child to be kind, I must be kind. If I want my child to look at life as a gift, I must look at it as a gift. If I want my child to make her bed, I need to make my bed! Think of yourself as a how-to video your child gets to watch every day.
Children love their mothers and often see no wrong in them (again, until those teen years, at least!). Since you are the closest living role model your children see, they need you to be a good role model. You can’t be a perfect role model (believe me, I tried!), but you can be a good one.
That’s our list, what else do you think kids need their moms to be?