I love kids. I ADORE THEM. I feel like we can learn SO much from children because they are the purest, honest, and most innocent kind of being. Likewise, children learn everything from us. I think that we adults underestimate the significance that we play in a child’s life. Their self-worth, ideas about the world, values, and intelligence is largely created by the environment in which they are nurtured in. Through how we raise our children, we are creating the future generation in our hands.
I am not yet a mom, but I have been around children my entire life. Growing up, my mother was a stay-at-home mom who managed a daycare. She raised me and my two younger sisters while practically raising a few other kids at the same time. In college, I was employed as a daycare provider, a nanny, and a School-Age employee at my local YMCA, in addition to volunteering with local children in the community and having a school counseling internship at a high school. I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in school counseling. Although I do not plan on having children until after establishing my career, I am so excited about motherhood. I know that it will be the single most important job that I will ever have in my life, and my most treasured role.
I have thought a lot throughout the past few years about how I will raise my children someday. With that in mind, here are some lessons that I will teach my children.
#1.) Don’t be a quitter
When I was in 6th grade, I wanted to join track. So my parents let me join, and I HATED IT. I cried every night and begged my mom to quit. But she never let me. And boy, was I ANGRY. Looking back, I’m so glad that she made me stick out my commitment. The lesson has carried on throughout my life; it’s not okay to give up. You don’t just “quit” your job on the third day if you don’t like it right away. You don’t just “quit” your marriage after having a few bad fights. I will teach my children to stick out their commitments so they don’t give up easily on everything else in life.
#2.) How the media portrays life is not real life
Media sickens me. Children consume on average about 7 hours a day viewing media. 7 hours. Do you understand how detrimental that is for one’s well-being, let alone a child?! Depictions of violence, sex, and disrespect are shown every single day, which in turn causes eating disorders, abuse, and misinformed ideas about sex, negative body image, and disrespect in general. I will teach my child that the media is not accurate of real life, and that individuality is admirable.
#3.) Things don’t get handed to you in life
I will teach my children that if they want something, they have to work hard for it. I will not be a helicopter parent and constantly be holding my child’s hand throughout life. Instead, I will guide them with encouragement and let them make their own choices with full understanding that they will learn from the bad choices. I will not pay a cent for my child’s college education, nor will I give my child money whenever they want. There is no “free ride” in the real world, so why should I give my children a free ride?
#4.) It’s not okay to bully
My child will know that it is not okay to put others down and it is not okay to belittle people, whether it is physically or mentally. Zero tolerance. And if my child does make a mistake, I will take them to the home of the victim to personally apologize to both the child and the parent.
#5.) All you can do is try your best
I will praise my children if they tried their absolute best in math class and still get a C. I will praise my child if they went out for a sport, gave it their all, and still sat the bench every game. I will praise my child for making mistakes because that at least means that they tried. If my child gives their best effort to what they are trying to achieve, I will be the proudest parent in the world.
#6.) Love is real at any age
When people say to their children, “Honey, you don’t know what love is, you’re only ___ years old” it makes me SICK. Love is raw, true, agonizing, and deep. At any age. I remember crushes I had from kindergarten to middle school to high school. Obviously, the love I felt in kindergarten is a different form of love than the love I feel now at this stage in my life. But I don’t ever deny that my feelings weren’t “real.” Love is love; whether it is puppy love, to first-kiss smitten love, to falling in love with your soulmate or first child. Love is pure in all forms, and it is real. I vow to never put down my child and tell them that their feelings are not real; it is their life, not mine. Who am I to judge what is in their heart? The world needs more love, anyways.
#7.) You cannot judge someone until you step into their shoes
I will teach my children that you do not know someone else’s story because you are not them. Maybe that kid who is a bully to my child at school comes from an abusive home. My children will learn to forgive the wrong and realize that everybody comes from a different situation. They will be brought up to understand that it is wrong to judge someone without knowing where they came from.
#8.) Respect your body
I will teach my children that their body is sacred and not to throw it away. To drugs, to substances, to undeserving hearts. I will teach my children to respect people as people with intrinsic personalities and not objects, and to guard their hearts. This is a lesson I will emphasis heavily for both my sons and my daughters.
#9.) Respect others
My children will be taught to treat others with respect. I will teach them not to talk back to their teachers or their coaches; to be polite to their friends’ parents and use manners when invited as a guest; to be kind to their elders and appreciate their wealth of knowledge. A lot of children today lack respect, but my child will not be one of them.
I will teach my children that forgiveness is one of the most powerful traits in the world. As soon as you make the choice to forgive, you are setting your burden free. It does not mean that you brush aside the unfair justice that ensued to you; it means that you have the power to choose a happy life, which requires moving on and not holding grudges.
#11.) Value your education
My children will understand that free public education is a gift and something to be thankful for. I will teach them that not all children around the world are as blessed as they are to live in this wonderful country and to be given the opportunity to be taught every day. I will teach them to not take this granted.
I will teach my children the value of giving rather than receiving. One Christmas, my aunt took my little cousins to a homeless shelter to volunteer at on Christmas Eve. I thought this was absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. I would like to do the same for my own children someday to show them the value of giving to others and helping those in need.
#13.) Appreciate what you have
I can’t stress enough how important this is to me. My children will be taught to be thankful for what they have, and that greed has no place in our household. I will teach my children that the reason why I went to college was to get a job to create and support a family. My children will be brought up to understand the sacrifices it takes to provide, and will be grateful for their food on the table.
Don’t forget that children are like sponges. They learn soak everything up, learn quickly and adapt. Set a good example and teach your children some morals. Today’s society needs you to do your part.