Tuesday, October 12, 2010

OUR "GOOD MOM" List by T. Suzanne Eller

Our “Good Mom” List

October 8, 2010
Moms Together,Nurturing Family

Before I had children, I had a Good Mom list. It read something like this:

•When I become a mother, I will not ignore my children.

•When I become a mother, I will not physically harm my children.

•When I become a mother, I will not scream or yell.

•When I become a mother, I will never humiliate my child.

It was all the things I promised I’d never do to my children. When I ask this same question at every parenting conference, moms add their wishes to the list. They might look like this:

•I won’t force my children to be something they are not

•I won’t tell my children that they are lazy or stupid.

•I won’t lose it!

Most of these are things that they had to deal with as they grew up. They’ve promised that they won’t carry them down to another generation. While all of these are good things, a Good Mom list isn’t very functional. When your five-year-old has a meltdown in WalMart or your preteen screams, “I hate you”, you can whip out your Good Mom list all that you want.

You can even stand in the aisle of the grocery store chanting, “I will not; I will not; I will not” while Jr. kicks your shins, turns red in the face, and threatens to hold his breath.

At that moment, a good mom list isn’t much help. You need to know what to do.

Instead of a Good Mom list (what not to do), make a proactive list.

One way to do that is to have family guidelines. One of ours was: “In the Eller family, we’ll talk to each with respect.”

Another was “We’ll all clean the kitchen together after supper”.

There were more and they fit our family. The kids knew what to expect. The guidelines were reasonable, and they worked—most of the time. When they didn’t, there were reasonable, consequences. In many ways this alleviated the pressure for all of us. My kids didn’t have to guess what the rules were or if mom was going to be cool, calm and collected or have a meltdown.

What about your family? You see, your family isn’t going to look like mine. There may be special needs. There may be circumstances that other families don’t have to deal with.

Looking at your family, ask these questions: Are there clear boundaries? Do children know what to expect if they cross them? Have you talked about it as a family?

Then set guidelines that work for you.

Will it be easy?

Nope, but no one promised us easy. Kevin Lehman, a parenting speaker and author, once said that good parenting is the most inconvenient process on earth.

Honestly, it’s harder in the beginning, especially as we create a new normal for our kids. You are breaking patterns that may have become second nature. If “I scream” equals “mom will do it herself” and suddenly things change, it will take time for the new parenting patterns to make sense.

Ready to throw out your Good Mom list?

Maybe these questions will help as you throw out your good mom list, and create guidelines that fit you and your family:

1. What are five clear objectives for your family?

2. What are reasonable consequences if guidelines aren’t followed?

3. Are you willing to follow through every time?

4. Are the guidelines mutual? (If you want your children to be respectful and that’s a guideline, you must also be respectful to your children in your speech and actions.)

5. Have you explained the guidelines to your children?

6. Do they have reasonable input?

7. Is there reasonable rewards for growth? (Sincere affirmation, encouragement, stickers, hugs, reward at the end of the week, etc.)

Why is this important?

Throwing out your good mom list and creating a family plan that fits you takes all of the personal junk out of shaping our beautiful children.

We can separate the two. There are no bad kids. They aren’t trying to wear us down. Instead, as we parent and shape them we 1) love our children who are works in progress (so are we!), and 2) create parenting tools that work with our family to address behavior calmly and consistently to help them become all that they can be.

This can be reprinted on another blog or in a newsletter as long as you add a byline and link to and Moms Together.
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