Marla Smart: Word to the wise

It’s amazing to think how much time and energy goes into raising a family.

I had a rough few years after my oldest was born. Trying to figure out how best to handle each new step of her life was a challenge to me. I judged myself based on what I thought others thought of my child-rearing and there were some pretty miserable years in there.

I learned a few things along the way. Some by trial and error on my part, some from observing others. Some worked well for child number one but were totally ineffective for number three.

Yet, there are a few lessons that have always been constant in our home. So, humbly, here are my Top Six Parenting Tips:

1. You are the mom. It is valuable to listen to others’ advice, but use your own judgement to make decisions for your children. Don’t be bullied by friends or relatives into doing things their way. Some of the things spoken will be well worth the time you’ve taken to listen and some just won’t work. It’s your right to decide for your family. (Even if that means disregarding the rest of what I say here!)

2. Every child adds something to your home. The personality of the whole family changes. There are things you will not be able to do the same way with each child, maybe not even equally. And that’s OK.

3. Let your children navigate their friendships. It’s great to help them make wise decisions, but if you involve yourself in every conflict that arises, they will not learn to deal with what life throws at them.

4. Make your children responsible for their own actions. It is very easy to brush away a small complaint by someone who “doesn’t know my child well enough to speak into her life,” but be honest with yourself about what your child should own up to.

5. Don’t be afraid to let your children try things. I’ve seen parents not letting their children run because they might fall or play in the mud because their clothes will get dirty. Let them explore and have those growing, learning experiences. Grab a box of Band-aids and some wet wipes!

6. Be yourself to your kids. Don’t hide your failures, but include them in your life. Show your children how to learn from mistakes. Be real, apologize and love big.

I am still learning with each step my children take. I make mistakes and have to rethink strategies, but I am confident of my love and commitment to my children. We'll all make it through.

Marla Smart is married with three children. Read her Fridays on Douglas County Moms. Also check out her personal blog here.

You are the mom. It is valuable to listen to others’ advice, but use your own judgement to make decisions for your children.


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The News-Review Updated Nov 18, 2013 07:29PM Published May 26, 2013 05:07PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.