Becoming a parent 18 years ago caught me unawares and unprepared (but that’s another blog post), and so I always question my skills as a mom. Everything I know came from observation (my parents) and trial-and-error (me). However, I always want to be better in what I do and so I have become an avid reader of ANY and ALL parental advice articles. The most recent ones I came across included something about how American parents are doing it wrong (poor American parents–they always have it bad) and one about how to listen to your teen-age child.
Although reading these articles do instruct me on how to become a better mother, many times I feel quite inadequate when I can’t practice everything they preach. “5 Keys to Raising Smart Kids,” “10 Steps to Giving your Child More Confidence,” “8 Best Kid-Healthy Tips,” “12 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Your Kids Start a Sport.” Really now, aren’t those titles a little too intimidating?
I have, therefore, learned to accept my own strengths and weaknesses as a mom, and have developed my own strategies in bringing up my kids to become the adults I want them to be.
Here are my own parenting practices in no particular order of preference or prominence (Whew! That was a lot of Ps!):
- I feed the kids as much healthy food as they can swallow. In my case, that would be two strands of kangkong, followed by a full glass of water, and a banana for dessert. When they eat chips or drink soda, I just close my eyes and pretend it’s not happening. I also try to be a good example by eating vegetables in front of them (I should stop with the brownies though).
- I ALWAYS remind them speak to and treat people–any people–with the utmost respect. (“Any people” includes their own siblings.) They have to greet elder people–mom, dad, lolo, lola, tito, tita, teacher, priest, doctor, yaya, driver, etc–every time they enter a room. This is a non-negotiable, and non-compliance usually means a slap in the face (I’m kidding Bantay Bata!).
- Using of the computer, iPad, iTouch, iPhone, X-box during school days is not allowed. But truthfully, I pick my battles. How can you win against a child telling you, “But I neeeeeeeeeed the computer to do research for my homework,” OR “I have to keep my iPhone on! That’s how my classmates get in touch with me so we can do our project together”??? Sometimes, I do feel my head explode.
- Team sports is a must! (Physical health, cooperation, and perseverance–what more can you ask?) We attend all the games to cheer for them, shout out things they should do to their opponent, groan out loud when they lose the ball, and hug them whether they win or lose.
- I train my kids to study independently (fact: my husband has forbidden me from tutoring my own kids lest I “accidentally” strangle them), yet when they need help I am there for them. I sharpen their pencils, help them with the printer, or buy art supplies. But I will NEVER: write a paper, answer math problems, draw the digestive system, or research the gross domestic products of the Central Asian countries. Oh, I also tell them everyday when they arrive home from school: “Do your homework. Study na!”
- I teach my kids to live within their allowance. If they want a new shirt, bag, toy, musical instrument, or iPad game, they have to either save their money, work for it, or wait until their birthday comes around (because that is the only occasion we allow them to go to their grandparents to ask for anything). And if they’re hungry because they don’t have enough money to buy food, I just tell them to eat less (again, I’m kidding Bantay Bata!).
- I allow them to experience new things without us. Sometimes, the first soiree, camping trip, or non-animated movie is best enjoyed with their barkada.
- Their friends are always welcome to come over to the house, but they have to make sure that they greet us when they arrive. That is our kids’ most important responsibility when they host. And we expect that they do the same when they visit their friends’ houses.
- I constantly ask them what went about in their day, and encourage them to tell stories about their friends. And I always (try to) listen without judgement and laugh with abandon.
- I hug and kiss my kids as much as they allow me to–when they wake up, before they leave the house, when they arrive at home, after taking a shower (to check how clean they are), and before they go to bed. Sometimes, I also try to do this in public but I’m usually met with
somea lot of resistance.
In the end, whatever it is I do, I just hope and pray that they grow-up to be good and happy people. That’s all a mother (like me) could ask.