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4 of My Mom’s Parenting Traits I Hope to Leave Behind

My mom was the best. And she was doubly amazing for having raised me after my father died when I was 8. She devoted her very being, to me. I’m eternally grateful.

Aaaaaand…as with us all, there are a few things I hope to do differently.

I’m probably doomed (or blessed) to repeat what I see as mistakes, but are probably in my genetic makeup.

KEEPING UP APPEARANCES

Mom was perpetually preoccupied with outward appearances, be it state of the house or state of moods. She made Herculean efforts to present an “everything’s great” facade for the world. I just don’t feel like doing that.

For guests to come over, the house had to be immaculate. However, we tended to have dishes in the sink, papers on the dining room table, and clothes on my bedroom floor. It wasn’t embarrassing for me, but we didn’t host much.

As for moods, I don’t need everyone to think I’m stupendous every single day. Occasional crankiness isn’t shameful.

And family feuds are normal.

My kids don’t need to put up facades or (moreover), strive to impress others all the time. Just be real. It’s easier.

DON’T GET DIRTY

Mom ingrained in me paranoia about getting dirty. I marveled at other kids who had no problem running through mud, rolling in leaves, or jumping in puddles. If I somehow marred my clothing, Mom chastised me.

When I was 6, during a soccer game, I came crying to her on the sideline because I slipped in the mud. I swear it’s because I didn’t want to get in trouble, not because I hated being dirty.

Kids grow out of clothes faster than wearing them out. So who cares if jeans go through an extra dozen washings? The immediate fun of play is more important than preserving that “new clothes” look.

Puddles are meant to be jumped in, leaves are meant to be rolled in.

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN

My mom cried over spilled milk. Well, practically.

She hollered over spilled milk.

“You have to be careful!”

“Think about what you’re doing!”

“You have to pay attention!”

Now, I needed some reminders to pay attention and think before I acted. But I didn’t need to be told spilling milk was a “bad” thing.

And of course I didn’t intentionally break that bowl in the sink.

And do you really think I deliberately lost my lunch money on the street on my way to school?

And no, I didn’t spill the milk to create more work for you, Mom.

Accidents happen. Keep perspective.

TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING

Kids: ask me anything. I promise to do my utmost to answer you honestly and calmly. There’s not much that shocks me.

I’ll give advice if you’re seeking that. And I promise just to say “that sucks” when that’s what you want to hear.

My mom was a problem solver. Often, if I complained about another kid being mean or that I didn’t get a perfect grade on a test or that I was frustrated, her response was, “Well…what did you do? Did you say something to that kid first?” or “Didn’t you work hard enough?” or “You need to apply yourself!”

Often, especially as I got older, I just needed some empathy. Instead, she made me feel guilty.

So I stopped sharing with her.

I white-washed my life so that she wouldn’t worry or further criticize.

She missed out on sharing a lot of my concerns.

I really hope my kids don’t do that.

Again: my mom did a great job. Next time? – I’ll list a few of the innumerable ways she set me for success.

But complaining is so much easier, isn’t it?

What about you? What are your “complaints” about your parents’ parenting?

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2 Comments

  1. Keep it real, accidents happen, don’t sweat the small stuff … and most of it IS small stuff.
    My “complaints” would be that Mom always wanted everything PLANNED to the NTH degree, and was often crestfallen if plans didn’t turn out the way she had hoped. Plus she deferred a lot to my Dad, which was probably both a cultural and generational thing as I think back on it. Dad was the “strong silent type” and family provider, not one to show much emotion or be terribly communicative. When they went their separate ways in the mid 80’s, as much as I would have given anything to have my parents still together (and happy about it), I actually found that I liked them better as individuals. Mom had to become more independent, and Dad learned to communicate and show his feelings more. And the BIGGEST gift they both gave me and my sister? They never forced us to do anything, but supported us in virtually anything we wanted to try – which means we both tried a LOT of things before finally landing in the careers that would serve us and provide personal & professional fulfillment for a lifetime: my sister becoming a veterinarian, and me pursuing a career in ministry in the United Church of Christ … THANKS Mom & Dad!

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  2. Not sweating the small stuff, indeed. I get that it’s easier said than done. Don’t you worry. I’ll be thanking Mom in next post for all she did do. Oh, and “planning to the Nth degree”? I’m grateful mine was’t that way. In fact, I should blog about the time we went to Europe with absolutely zero plans, not even reservations for our first night’s stay. I was proud of that one.

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