What a shame that I’m not writing this Mother’s Day column before I had kids.
I knew all the answers back then and could have offered unending, unparalleled advice for all parents.
Even when I had one well-behaved toddler, I was still a self-appointed parenting authority. I knew so much back then.
These days, as the mother of two young adult daughters, I come to you full of parenting humility — I will be the first to say how little I know for sure.
Most of what I do know is based on gaps in knowledge. For example, I have come to believe that things work best when you develop different parenting styles for different children. Granted, I can’t tell you what parenting style to use for what child, but I know the same approach doesn’t work for every child.
I know that reading to children is good.
I know that things matter so much less that what I used to believe. If I could go back, I would be more particular about which battles I fought with and for my children. I would be much more permissive. I would draw the line much further down the road, based largely on these questions: Is the child in danger or is she putting someone else in danger? Is the child being rude? Is the child healthy?
I would do so much less.
My children don’t remember hardly any of the pre-school activities and vacations that my husband and I worked so hard to make happen. When I think back on those days, I believe now we would take the same time off, but stay home most of the time — or go visit with extended family. I would save the big vacations until they were at least until they’re in the first grade.
I asked friends about the best parenting advice they received through the years.
Alexa Corman John said, “When they drive away keep waving just in case they turn around. You want them to see that you are still there.”
Ashley Duran said, “What seems little to us is big to them.”
Sasha D. Nick said, “Answer their questions truthfully, even if it is uncomfortable for you.”
Karla Coreil said, “Let your kids fail. Don’t fix everything for them.”
Diane Sobek Coussan said, “Teach life skills and encourage music and art. You and they will learn where talents and interests lie.”
Kelly O’Reilly LaBry said, “My mom told me over 6 years ago, 'Don’t do something for him that he can do for himself.' ”
Jeannie Oubre said, “Maya Angelou said, ‘Do your eyes light up when they walk in the room?’ Referring to her kids. Make sure they do. And of course, this is good toward husbands, friends, even strangers.”
Carolyn Cooper said, “Being nice can go a long way!”
Caroline Meaux Reaux said, “Be present.”
Ashley Cerise Riley said, “Build them up. Don’t tear them down. If you raise a confident and kind child, all the other successes will fall in place. A positive self-image goes a long way!”
Katherine M. Loos said, “Your job is to raise competent adults, not children. Let them do it. Don’t helicopter or lawn mower. Their successes and failures need to be their own. You have lived your life. Let them live theirs. Teach them how to do things and let them do them.”
Yvonne Benitez Bell said, “Remember, you are his voice when he has none."
Amy Barsanti said, “Every stage is finite. So, calm down. She won't be in diapers with a pacifier at her high school graduation.”
Donna Landry said, “Be the mom.”
Kathy Roberts Cox said, “Listen to all advice. You might need to use it one day.”
In sharp contrast, Chrissy Guilbeaux Thompson said, “Don’t listen to all the advice.”
Wherever you find yourself on the mothering spectrum, here’s wishing you happy memories of your time with your mother and a day full of love for all the mothers out there.