Becoming a mother brings a range of roles that any stage or film actress might envy. Nurse, teacher, administrator, chauffeur, and coach are just some of the many duties a typical mom may have to perform.
But if you are a new mom or someone who is a little confused about the type of parent a mother should be, here are a few basic guidelines that may help you become a more effective mother:
- Have integrity. From an early age, kids look up to their parents as role models and even heroes. They will learn many of their attitudes, language patterns, and behaviors from observing you. As you go about the daily events of your life, make values-based decisions. Your children need to see you respond to others in a consistent, honorable way. When you treat others with respect, they will too. If you are kind and polite, expect it from the kids as well. Integrity is perhaps the most important quality a parent can model.
- Set good standards. Expect your kids to try hard at school, to treat authorities with courtesy, and to follow parental guidelines. When you lower the bar or issue contradictory mandates, the kids will become confused and possibly get off track. Clearly explain what you want them to do, and if applicable, tell them why. Start when they are young and they will never know to do anything else until they become teens and are exposed to other ideas and examples.
- Be fair. Treat all your children in the same manner without favoring one over another. Be consistent in setting rules as well as issuing rewards and punishments. Kids quickly sense hypocrisy or favoritism, so do your best to treat them all the same. Don’t say one thing and do another; rather, set the example as far as following the same rules yourself.
- Have fun with them. Be sure to include time for play in your schedule. From tots to teens, your children love to see Mom laugh, and they are delighted when that laughter includes them. Read together, tell jokes, talk over the school day, wash dishes together, bathe the dog, shoot hoops, take a drive, have a milk shake. As they grow older, plan individual outings with each child to talk over dinner or go bowling, for example. Kids love being part of a family, but they want to know they matter as individuals, too.
- Honor their father. Perhaps the greatest gift you can give your children is the gift of family security. When they see you kiss Dad or avoid a sharp argument, you reinforce their notion of unconditional love and relational forgiveness. They, in turn, will learn to base their future marriages on similar principles. Even if their father no longer lives in the home due to divorce or death, talk about him courteously, point out his good qualities, and mention the problem behaviors only when you must.
Moms play a pivotal role in children’s development. Take time to reflect on your many opportunities to make family life meaningful and fun. Kids grow up quickly, and you won’t get a second chance.