Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not the cool mom….not me!

I am happy to have guest blogger, Becca Smith, sharing her insights about raising boys in today's society. Becca is a single mom whose parenting combines old-fashioned ways with 21st century common sense....hey wait, that sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?

None of my friends will ever accuse me of trying to be the “cool mom.” Why? Because I live by a self-imposed set of rules with my kids. I am a 47-year-old only parent of two boys, aged 14 and six. I love my boys with all my heart and want them to grow up to be good men, not six-foot-tall little boys. I may be old-fashioned by many of today’s standards, but what's wrong with that? Here are some of the things that make me “un-cool:”

1) I never rush out to buy the latest and greatest. Not cell phones, MP3 players, DVD players, etc...

Kids who get everything they want end up being discontent kids if you’re not keeping up with every upgrade out there. I expect my boys to be happy with what they have, rather than always waiting for the next new thing to come out.

2) Don't create a praise/reward junkie.

I know you need to praise them and reward them so they know they did well. On occasion.

I once heard a mom tell her grade school child, "Oh, you didn't misbehave in class today? Hey, that's great!" Hmmmm, don't you expect them to behave at school every day? I know we all have a bad or off day from time to time, but those days should be the exception, not the norm. I reward my boys and praise them for trying their hardest, while also reminding them that the reward is a job well done. That is the value, how they feel for their accomplishment, not the gift they get from me.

3) Not my Johnny.

This is my personal pet peeve. If a teacher/coach/daycare person tells you something negative about your child, listen to them. Think about it -- what do they have to gain by telling you your child didn't listen well or was not nice? Ask questions or ask another adult for more information; that is your right as a parent and advocate of your child. Then ask your child for their side of the story. Don't fly to their defense without gathering as much information as you can. You’ll know in your gut whether or not they are picking on your kid. I know that happens. When someone tells us about our child’s misbehavior, it’s hard to not take it as a personal criticism of our parenting skills. I have a hard time with crow myself...

4) “If you get in trouble at school, you are in trouble at home, too, mister.”

No confusion here. I support my kids’ teachers and principal. They will be punished at home, too. Period. That might mean no TV, or I might restrict computer usage to homework only. I’ll let them know that they didn't do what I expected them to do at school. Okay, that sort of goes with #3. Told you it's a peeve!

5) Homework gets done as soon as we get home.

I know some parents feel kids need time to de-stress, but I like to have the work done and over for the night. Since we’re in the car at least 30 minutes, we have time to talk about the day and visit with each other on the way home. I’ve found it's hard to get my boys to settle down to do homework later. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest; objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Don't mess with Albert's rules!

6) Regular bed, meal and chore times.

I have many friends who feel they don't get enough grown-up time -- sleep and such -- because they don't have a set time for anything. It appears this may be contributing to the obesity issues we are finding in our children today as well. Eating dinner at 8:00, and going to bed between 10:00-11:00 is just too late for grade and middle school kids. I can't fly by the seat of my pants and it seems most kids don't do well with that lifestyle either.

My two favorite sayings about parenting are:

1) If it takes a village to raise a child, don't yell at me when I correct yours, too!

2) If kids didn't need parents for guidance and to raise them, they would hatch out of eggs and run like he** before I ate them.

(Inspired by mama 'gator on PBS)

Okay, so I have a quirky sense of humor too. But hey, as a single parent, it helps get me through the day!

                                                          -- Becca Smith

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