By Kelly Sipe, author and teacher
We recently gathered some loyal TMoM readers to discuss “Mom Mistakes” with Michelle Kennedy from WXII 12 News. The segment will air tomorrow at 5 pm, 10pm and 11 pm, so be sure to tune in! To accompany this segment, we asked educator, Kelly Sipe, to share some of her advice, which you will read below! ~Rachel Hoeing
We strive to be good parents. We want the best for our children. We have the best of intentions; however, sometimes our good intentions may not fully support nor coincide with the goals we have for them. Happiness, success, resiliency, well-roundedness, strength, perseverance, these are just a few of the many traits that we hope to develop in our children.
As a mother, experience has taught me a number of things about my own good intentions. As a teacher, I’ve witnessed a similar pattern of common parenting best intentions that don’t always deliver the outcome we had hoped for. Here are the top three that come to mind:
1) The Blessing of a Skinned Knee (title borrowed from one of my favorite parenting reads)
Inside all of us is that innate Mama/Papa Bear that lays dormant until one of our young is perceived to be in danger. We innately want to shelter our children from every hurt and injustice; however, it is actually through childhood trials and tribulations that our children find their inner strength and learn the necessary social-emotional skills that enable them to find success and happiness. If they can come through a challenging situation and get to the other side, it paves the way for future successes. Watching your child experience a difficult social situation is especially difficult. And, difficult social situations seem to begin so much earlier in life these days. However, the earlier the better! I would rather have young children navigate uncomfortable social situations early with the guidance of caring adults as opposed to on their own in middle/high school. These early situations can be teachable moments and your child will gain important social skills and social confidence.
2) Losing is Winning
When was the last time you allowed your child to lose at a game of Monopoly or Guess Who? When was the last time that your child did not receive an award for participation alone in a sport? Good sportsmanship is a fundamental lesson in beginning to develop self awareness, perseverance, resiliency and empathy. Your child’s development of self awareness includes the ability for them to see what their innate strengths are and what areas of growth are available. It is learning and loving (and accepting) an accurate picture of themselves. Perseverance is developed through the understanding that we all aren’t born Mia Hamm but if that is a goal we want to set for ourselves – most anything is possible with hard work and effort. Resiliency is built the more times we work through something from the bottom up and make it to the other side. Empathy and the ability to recognize (and appreciate) the best in others are invaluable life skills! Losing not only allows for self reflection and learning, but it also delivers a load of winning life lessons if the right mindset is applied.
3) Monkey See. Monkey Do.
Children may not always do what we say but you can be sure that they will always do what we do! I think we have all had those moments when we’ve lost our cool either with our children or with others in the presence of our children. It’s OK and even healthy for our children to witness that we are not perfect. We have feelings and needs too. What is most important in these situations is not to keep those feelings under wraps but to model what to do with strong emotions. Modeling is key! Explain to your child why you were frustrated or angry and, if appropriate, apologize to them for the way you initially reacted, stating what you think you should have done differently. Your child will benefit greatly from this extra step of purposeful dialogue. Walking through these scenarios with your child can be beneficial and can help them build their own social-emotional tool box!
Be present, be open, and, most of all, be forgiving (especially of ourselves!). If your child comes out of these child-rearing years able to say that my mom/dad was the best because they spent time with me, they encouraged me through the rough patches and they taught me that I had everything I needed in order to accomplish great things already inside of me (just waiting to be realized) – then you have redefined good parenting! It’s no longer about perfection but about learning to overcome and learning to grow through life’s imperfect moments.
Some of my favorite parenting reads (in no particular order):
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, by John Gottman
The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, by Dr. Wendy Mogel
Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne, M.Ed.
and a new entertaining, interesting read…
Bringing Up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman
*Photo Credit – Kathy Miller, One Shot Photography