Without hesitation I always tell new parents the best thing you can do is LOVE THEM. Show them love, demonstrate it, say it, prove it through your actions consistently for their entire lives.
Baby – Toddler age
Begin teaching right from wrong.
Everything may seem cute but you still need to teach it.
For example, if they’re talking back to adults, but you notice that their word pronunciation is very cute, first recognize and teach that talking back isn’t acceptable. Sometimes their way of saying things makes you want to laugh, but I recommend you laugh about how cute they are when they can’t see you. Not in front of them at that moment. Otherwise it’s all a game to them and you will have this issue again due to your misleading cues.
Teach them to love mom, dad, and others.
Dads, teach them to give mom a hug and speak to her in the morning, or when she comes home and enters the house
Teach them to speak first when entering into a room of people. It’s a display respect.
Teach them to respect adults (and everyone else as well).
Yes, some of us have been through painful situations, sometimes caused by others. But don’t hold on to bitterness and then pass it to the kids. Kids will automatically love others. It’s lost when parents remove love from their everyday experience.
Don’t worry about all the people who hurt you
Don’t fret over all the people you distrust. Raise your kids to love and respect people anyways. They don’t need to start off with the same level of distrust that you unfortunately may have grown accustomed to.
Teach them to be aware, to use their thinking, and to make good decisions.
Pre-teen – Teen Years
They’re going to be into things you don’t understand. Support them. Maybe they like a fashion style that you’re not into, or an instrument that you’re not too fond of…support them.
Listen to them with enthusiasm when they talk about life. Sometimes things that are important to them may not seem important to you…doesn’t matter. Make it become important to you.
Care about what they’re sharing and encourage them to share more with you.
Enjoy it! It won’t always be this way. Pretty soon they may not come to you with certain topics. It’s best if you build the relationship so much that they always talk to you, about everything.
Help them through school. Remember the pressures they’re experiencing between loving mom and dad, vs being valuable (sometimes being accepted) in the eyes of their peers.
It may not matter to you what people think anymore because you’re older, but you know dang well it matters to them. Try to teach them not to worry about what others think, but don’t act like it’s not natural when they actually care about their image and reputation. Some kids may take longer than others to grow out of that. Keep teaching and keep being patient.
Be empathetic. Put yourself in their shoes. Let them become who they are. Whoever they are at 12 WILL change. Don’t worry. Whoever they are at 15 WILL change too. And it won’t stop changing, so let them grow and figure some things out, like what style of sneakers they like, or when they decide the cartoon t-shirt’s and sports figure t-shirts are no longer cool, and now they like clothes with brand names or clothes with a certain type of zippers, or whatever, try to be flexible and allow them to express their new image if it’s not vulgar or disrespectful, or unacceptable to your standards, etc…
End of high school years
Celebrate their achievements with them. These are critical days to them. All of their friends are around, finishing up high school soon, trying to spend a lot of time together, and you might be falling out of the picture compared to the younger years. You’re still important. Don’t be offended. Be supportive. Back off a little. Let them breathe. Continue to instill life lessons and support them as they begin coming up with out-of-the-box ideas with their friends like getting a place together, being roommates, sharing a car, etc…before shooting it all down because you have enough wisdom to know what they didn’t think of, lend them your ear. Listen attentively. Offer advice. Ask lots of questions, not to oppose them, not sarcastically, but supportive questions to help them put together a plan for how they’ll accomplish their goals. They will either be well equipped and have a great plan that you helped them through, or they’ll realize this dream is more than what they thought and they’ll quickly move on to more ideas, and they’ll probably never bring that one up again because they’re full of so much more.
It’s the fun part of their lives. Don’t discourage them. Encourage them. Help them have brilliant minds and adventurous dreams. Don’t show them all the roadblocks and all the reasons why they can’t do something. Instead show them all the hope. All the ways around the roadblocks. And give them confidence. Don’t get caught up in the “reality” that they can’t achieve certain goals. Let them figure that part out. Your personal failures and shortcomings don’t have to be theirs. Maybe they’re smarter, faster, better, more talented then you. That’s a good thing. Give them confidence and encourage them.
In all of this, be their number one supporter, and also their parent. One who holds them accountable and teaches them what’s right.
Enjoy the journey