Friday, September 26, 2014

My Favorite Piece of Parenting Advice

As a teacher, I understand the great need for children to become problem solvers. I know that they need to be accepting and tolerant. I know that children need to feel loved and need to learn responsibility. When I got pregnant, though, I started to worry that maybe my child would not become those things. What if I wasn't capable of raising someone responsible and accepting? What if I raised an excuse maker instead of a problem solver?

To top it all off, everyone has advice for you. Everyone. When you're pregnant the advice seems to come for children that have outgrown their diapers. Why is that? Moms-to-be are scouring books and various sources to learn about childbirth, breastfeeding, and all the choices that are soon to follow that little babe right out of the womb. But everyone has opinions and advice for far beyond that little scope of time.

My brain felt like it just couldn't hold it all. There was too much. All the advice.

But there is one piece of advice that took hold and there it has stayed. It may be my favorite piece of parenting advice I've received so far.

Most good teachers will all agree that students will rise to the level of expectation.

I had a female college professor for a class last fall (whom I greatly admire). She is a mother and around Halloween she mentioned that she limits the amount of Halloween candy her kids can actually have and they give the rest away. I, personally, love this approach. Halloween candy is something that I've occasionally been known to get riled up about (yes, I know I'm a bit over the top, I can laugh at that now).

I approached her after class, my pregnant belly was very obvious at the time. "How do you do that?" I asked her. "Do what?" She replied. "How do you limit your kids' Halloween candy without them throwing fits or hating you?"

"Sharlee, here is one thing I've learned about parenting--it's all about the expectation. We've always limited the Halloween candy. That's just the way it is in our house. They know it's different in other places, and sometimes they put up a small fight or argue their case, but they know that in our home that's how it works."

This gave me such a relief.  There are things that are important to me in child rearing that other people might not appreciate and some have let me know. I have goals in mind for sugar intake, screen time, sleepovers, video games, and more. Many of these goals are not popular. While I am almost positive I will be changing my mind on some of these, it gives me great relief to know that if I want to make it a lifestyle for our family, it simply has to be an expectation.

I have seen this work in the classroom. I am excited to lean on expectations as a parent as well.

 What is your favorite piece of parenting advice?


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