If only there were a manual for motherhood!
The internet overflows with tips. Your friends may offer all kinds of advice. But like most mothers, you may wonder, “Is that right for my child, in this situation?”
To help build your confidence as a mom, we asked a few moms we know to share a piece of “big-picture” wisdom. These are all moms with kids who have become good, strong adults. Moms who learned a lot during their parenting years.
Here’s what they had to say.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Carrie, mom to nine children, says, “Sometimes there are decisions that, at the time, seem really crucial and important… but they’re not. I’ve breastfed some of my children, while others received infant formula. There are advantages and disadvantages of both. The same goes for diapers: I’ve used disposables, and I’ve used cloth diapers. I’ve been strict about bedtime, and I’ve been relaxed about bedtime. I’ve enrolled my children in public school, and I’ve chosen to homeschool. I’ve fed my children healthy food, and (sometimes) I’ve let them eat a piece of cake for dinner.
“In the end, I had to make the decision that worked best for my family at the time. Make the best decisions you can, and don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Trust Your Gut
Sandi, a mother whose third child has special needs, learned that when it came to her own children, she could depend on her instincts.
“Trust your gut,” she says. “You know your child better than anyone. You’ve seen them when they’re happy and healthy, so you’re likely to know when they’re sad or sick. Talk to your child’s doctor or teacher with courage. There may be things you see that they don’t. Your input can help make sure your child gets the kind of help they really need.”
Train Your Child’s Heart
Carrie added, “Be diligent, above all, about training your child’s heart and character. You don’t have to be a mom for very long before you realize that your baby is hard-wired to be selfish, just like the rest of us on the planet! One of the most difficult parts of parenting, but the most important in my mind, is to consistently train that little person’s heart towards GOOD. Love your child enough to tell her, “No.” Teach him how to share. Teach her how to be kind. Show him what it looks like to help a friend or neighbor. Train her to not be rude at the dinner table.
“The opportunities for teaching and training go on and on. As a parent, make the most of each day, looking for the ‘teachable moments’ that happen as you play, work, learn, and read together.”
Treat Each Child as an Individual
Karen, a mother of five children, said, “Remember that each child is unique. Don’t expect each of your own children to be like the others—or like anyone else’s kids. Get to know each child as an individual. One may be strong-willed and another compliant. One may be creative and imaginative while another is methodical and analytical.
“Encourage their personalities to blossom and prepare to be surprised.”
Keep Your Eyes on the Road Ahead
Darlene, who is a mother to three, grandmother to ten, and great-grandmother to two (so far), reminds today’s moms to take a long view of the motherhood journey.
“You’ve got to pause and look beyond the frustrations of the moment,” she says. “Your children won’t be fussy toddlers forever. Someday they’ll grow up.”
When she remembers the long nights and all the diapers, she says, “I don’t know how I did it!” But today it all seems worth it. “The kiddos I raised have turned into wonderful adults. They are great parents and grandparents. And now they are taking care of me.”
Karen agrees. “Keep your eyes on the goal,” she says. “You’re not raising children. You’re raising adults.”
Consistency is Key
Another Karen with two grown children learned not to worry if she wasn’t the perfect Super Mom. “Perfection is not required, but consistency is essential,” she says. Consistency tells your kids they can count on you, giving them a solid foundation on which to build their lives.
And one of the most consistent messages you can send your child needs to be, “I love you.” Loving your child no matter what helps them feel safe, even when they know they’ve messed up. Karen says, “Unconditional love corrects behavior but does not demean the child.”
Gather a Support Group
“I found out quickly that I needed a connection with other moms that had done this ‘mothering’ thing before me!” Carrie says. “I needed someone I could call and talk to.”
Because her mom lived far away, Carrie joined a moms group at her church and found some more experienced moms who could answer a lot of her questions. “I wish I had known that every new mom has questions, and it’s okay to ask them! Finding other moms to ‘do life’ with can be such an encouragement. Pretty soon I found that I could be an encouragement to moms that were younger and newer to ‘mothering’ than me!”
Grab These Support Opportunities
If you’re a mom in or near Redwood Falls, Minnesota, take advantage of these three kinds of support your mothering journey.
- Mom Time. Mom Time is for moms with children of any age, and meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month during the school year.
- Parent Circles. These groups meet weekly, alternating between Tuesdays at 11:30am and Wednesday evenings at 5:30pm. A meal is served before each meeting begins. Schedules are available at Choices Pregnancy Center. Call Gwenn at 507-637-2534 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. No registration needed. Circles meet in the Restorative Justice room on the second floor of the Redwood Falls courthouse. If you’d like a friend to go with, meet Gwenn at the Choices office and walk over together.
- Choices Pregnancy Center. For one-on-one support from experienced mothers, you can’t beat Choices. We’re here to make sure mothers get all the help they need. Want your parenting questions answered? Need help providing for your baby’s needs—or your own? Want to develop a healthier relationship? Find out what Choices Pregnancy Center can do for you. Call or text us today!