Children don’t come with instruction manuals, and many times, as we cuddle our new baby, we can’t imagine that love won’t override all our mistakes, and our child will turn out to be the most amazing people ever born.
But fast forward fifteen years, and you may wonder if that angry teenager with her hands on her hips, defying you, is the same sweet baby you brought home that short time ago.
How can a parent go about instilling the morals and behavior they want to see in their teenagers? It can be quite a daunting thing. But years ago, a very wise mother gave me the best piece of parenting advice I have received: “If you want to save the child, you have to save the parent.”
As the mother of ten children, I have learned over the years that your children will do as you do, not as you say, and not only that, they will go farther than you yourself have gone. You cannot fool them, they see through hypocrisy quickly. You yourself must become the person you wish your child to be. Not only that, you must become even better than the person you want your child to be.
When my oldest daughter was around sixteen or seventeen years old she was able to get into R rated movies. Either they didn’t check her ID, or members of my family would take her against my wishes, telling me she was “mature enough to handle it.” When I protested to her, she said, “You watch them.” Well, she was right. And it didn’t matter if I told her I was an adult; she certainly was almost one, herself. So I made her a deal. If she promised not to watch R rated movies, I wouldn’t either. She was skeptical, but it opened a whole new way of thinking for me. I realized that I needed to be the person I wanted my children to be.
I learned that the best way to teach my children what to do and what not to do was to model it myself. And before long, I realized that I was better for it, too.
If you don’t want your underage child to drink, then model that yourself. Can’t you do without alcohol to teach your child to do without it? Rather than alcohol, learn to make fun drinks for special occasions. Some can be pretty simple, like mixing orange juice with lemon lime soda. Or you can go online and find wonderful, pretty nonalcoholic drinks for special occasions or even everyday. Serve them in pretty glasses and teach your child you don’t need alcohol to have fun.
Stay away from impure movies and TV shows. Really, it will be better for your own mind. You can enjoy movies that are fine for your whole family. The old classics are great. Show your children that movies don’t have to have sexual content, violence or nasty words to be good. The better quality films will usually leave these out, and you will both be better off without it. Even better, skip the movies and TV, and teach your children to enjoy good books.
If you want you child to be modest, be modest yourself, and buy your children modest, pretty clothes. You can find your own unique style without showing a lot of skin. Help your son or daughter with this. They will be surprised at the compliments they get.
Be totally honest in everything you do. Did the clerk give you a dollar too much in change? Return it. The surprise in the clerks face that you would go to all that trouble to be so honest will be a good teaching moment for your child. Never lie, even if it is to your own harm-which it will rarely, if ever, be.
Work hard, and let your child work along beside you. Don’t let them see you be lazy and not get your work done. Stay at home moms have the best opportunity to do this. Let your child see you take seriously the work before you, and let them help. Stay busy most of the day, and when you do relax, both of you will know it’s well deserved.
Being the person you want your child to be is not so hard, and your child will respect that you live what you teach. You will be a solid rock for them to lean on and learn from. You will be a better person, as well as your child.