Mrs. Willey the mommy, I’m sure you’re now making it your life’s mission to take the role of motherhood to the hilt. You had often wondered about how you would raise a child to become an amazing human being. Knowing you, you have now researched and read a lot, and also pictured all sorts of scenarios in your typical over-prepared fashion.
While I assume that you are perhaps overwhelmed beyond words with love and adoration as a mom, I hope you will remember some things that may be difficult to remember when the time comes.
Yes, you want your child loved and cared for. But you also know that your child must be steered away from a false sense of entitlement and self-consummation.
Here are some things that I hope will help you at some point. These are things that not all parents are fully aware of and are not exactly excited to do. (Parenting is not a glamorous job, right?)
One day, at least for you, you know these things must be done.
- Teach your child to fail.
You know how important it is to have an attitude to win, and to win consistently. However, it is more important to be a survivor of failures. All champions and successful people know that life presents us with so many setbacks. Please, don’t hide these setbacks from your child.
Your child will not be good at everything, just as you are not good at everything. Walk with your child down paths of frustration even through his or her youth–let your child cry, get wounded and be hurt. This is going to be very hard for you, but your child needs to value failure as a stepping stone for greatness.
- Teach your child to keep trying.
When your child doesn’t get his or her way, then that is the beginning of your job to teach resilience, perseverance and hard work. I imagine it will be hard. You have to let your child get up from a fall and encourage another try, and another, and another, and another.
Your child can’t be raised thinking that success is easy, and that giving up is a swift recourse.
- Know that your child can be wrong.
Your husband has seen so many parents who dote on their children too much and think that their children can do no wrong. You know that you will be inclined to be the same.
When your child misbehaves, please be mindful to make your child accountable and watch yourself from constantly excusing the misbehavior.
- Model politeness and honesty without confusing the two.
It is important for your child to speak the truth, just as it is important for your child to be polite. Teach your child to use language gently but truthfully. Your child can say no, your child can have an opinion, and your child can ask questions.
There will be a lot of words said from childishness and hedonism but take it from your husband: you have to patiently listen and speak in a way that models the thinking and behavior you want to see.
- Make your child comfortable with being alone.
I’m sure you and your husband will teach the significance of people skills to living a highly-involved and purposeful life. However, you see a lot of people around you who struggle with being alone. And they grow up lonely in their own company.
Cultivate your child’s comfort with solitude, and develop in your child a sense of independence as early as you can. Encourage your child to have fun being alone–to be creative, explore his or her own thoughts and inclinations, read, write, do crafts and art, play toys or music, and be perfectly comfortable with that.
- Teach your child to accept the reality of “unfair.”
It will be challenging to make a child accept that the world is not designed with fairness. There are realities that are harsh, i.e. children like your own being born to poverty and starvation.
Your child is not above the unfairness of this world, and he or she must have noble acceptance of these truths without feeling like a victim when “unfair” happens. Your child must learn to know the existence of “unfair” and not to be defeated by it.
- Show your child how to accept “different.”
People will look, think, act, eat, dress, pray and speak differently. And your child must be taught that the world is big and diverse and beautiful, and he or she can always be curious and open-minded, as much as he or she can always be kind to people no matter how different they are.
- Teach your child to care for people and things.
Does your child treat old people with love? Does your child take care of animals and give to them? Can your child give to another child?
Develop your child’s heart as much as the body and brain are consciously developed.
Love for another is something the world needs so much of.
- Don’t give it all.
It will be tempting to give all that you can, but parent with restraint.
Say no when necessary to teach a child that it’s okay not to have things. You will be hated for a time, but it is important to teach a child to fight envy and selfishness, and to be grounded in the truth that we shouldn’t always have to own things now or later to feel better.
- Model optimism and teach change.
Your child can’t go far without looking forward to better things and believing that change is a good thing. Teach the value of positivism by modelling it in your language and actions, and aggravate your own comforts by showing that change is not easy, but it is not always a bad thing. Many times, it is good.
The world is changing so fast and we must adapt in order to thrive.
- Teach the concepts of money and “long-term.”
A child can be taught about money and how to habitually save it at a very young age. You don’t need to wait for college for your child to make and learn from financial mistakes. Think of how you can work the concept of “long-term” into a child’s short-term mentality. A lot of the things worth having in life must mature over time, and “long-term” is an abstract concept to this generation’s YOLO kids.
I would like to write more for you. Right now, I hope you’re holding up well and you’re not being too hard on yourself as a mom. Remember that this is a dream come true. Your impact in this world will be seen in the way you raise another human being who will hopefully want to make this world a little better too. Own this blessing and wonderful opportunity to make a difference.
But, however you are feeling right now as a parent reading this, I can’t possibly know what I’m talking about just yet. We’re all imperfect and constantly learning.
So take a deep breath, grow with your role, and take it day by day. You know this too well: life always gets better.
To all the moms out there, I admire the utter selflessness and devotion that make you nothing less than divine. I still don’t know what it’s like to be a mom, but from the moms around me, I know that all of you who are trying hard to be good mothers are extraordinary human beings. I’ll borrow Mother Teresa’s phrase: it’s a self-emptying kind of love.
You all rock!
Disclaimer: I am not expecting a child as I write this but we are planning to start a family in the near future. I’m just restless and wanting to write my thoughts. Also, as Mr. Willey would agree, I direly need these reminders in the future. 🙂