This morning, I was dropping my children off at school and I said my usually goodbye. "I love you. Remember to make good choices today." As the words came out of my mouth a memory flashed through my head.
When they were in pre-school I started saying "Make good choices today" at drop off. I am a stay at home mom and this was the only time they were out of my care. There teachers always looked at me odd when I said my phrase. Both children's teachers at one point or another scolded me about the words. They told me that my kids were very well behaved and didn't need reminders.
I tried experimenting with each child, back then. I made myself not say those words. I dropped them off and told them I loved them. At pick up, each child had not had a great day. The teachers were flabbergasted and said both had been outside their normal character. This made me wonder how it is that those few words could make such a difference. I tried the experiment a few more times with the same result. This was puzzling me.
You see, I am a parent that does not believe in ever hitting children. I don't believe in raising my voices at them. I don't believe in calling them names. I believe in firm discipline in love and understanding. I believe that lowering your voice in anger has better results than yelling. I believe that hitting is a lazy way of parenting because follow through takes more time. I believe that name calling results in broken spirits.
I have never been the type of parent that thinks my kids are beyond bad behavior. I know exactly what they are capable of but also believe that, with the right guidance, they will make the right choices. I am a firm disciplinarian. I will never spank but my children know "Yes ma'am and no ma'am". I don't yell but when I say I want something done I don't get talked back to. I don't call names so I hear "I love you mommy and I want to live with you forever".
My children are not an extension of me. They are their own feeling, thinking person. It has been my job, from the moment of their birth, to raise them to leave me. They will go and be a strong independent adults that control their emotions and show love to others. In this knowledge, I find the will to be the parent I should be rather than smother them. You don't know how hard that is for me.
I am, by far, not a perfect parent. I did learn from the mistakes that were made in my childhood. Kindness, compassion, and a listening ear will get you further with children. I have no problem telling them that I am wrong or made a bad choice myself. It takes 10 positive words to replace one negative word. Affection is paramount.
This brings me today. As I said those my mantra they said, "I love you mommy". Those 4 words that melt my heart several times a day. They both kissed me in front of their friends and wrapped their arms around me. I knew they would make good choices. I am proud to call them mine.