Every single mom wants to be the best mom ever, whether she is going it alone or the childs father is in the picture. This is not always an easy task. It takes work and dedication to be the best mom you can, and this guide was created to help you along that path.
In part 1, we are consentrating on teaching children valuable lessons. Ones they will take with them out into the world both as children and later as adults. Ones they really need their mom to teach them.
First, remember a few things:
- If we do not show our children that we have these character traits, they will not likely believe the traits are necessary.
- We teach our children about character and morals with our every day actions.
- Our children are watching us, and listening.
- Children need to learn to take responsibility for their own actions. We can not always fight their battles for them. If we do, they wont learn the proper skills needed to do this on their own. I am not saying that anyone should be able to physically hurt them or that they should be put in harms way. But children do need to know how to handle situations and they have to know that being rude or violent themselves is not usually the answer to a problem.
- We want what is best for our children, so treating them well and with respect is necessary. If parents do not do this now, they cannot expect their children to respect them as the children grow up or when they are adults. And, they may well grow up without respect for anyone. Who can be truly happy if they have no respect for anyone?
- We all want what is best for our children.
Now, how do we go about raising children with good character and morals?
First, we exhibit good character and morals ourselves. This is the most important step. If we always get angry too easily, hollaring and swearing and overreacting to situations and people, that is what our children will learn. If we stop for a moment to consider what is going on around us, then act in a responsible way to deal with a situation, that is what our children will learn. If we treat our elders with respect, our children will learn to do so. If we fight injustice in a moral, responsible way, our children will learn to do so. If we refrain from being ignorant to the person who pulled out in front of us, and calmly explain why that kind of thing is not okay, our children will learn a more valuable lesson from us than if we yell and swear at a person who can't hear us anyway. If we gossip behind another persons back but are nice to their face, this is what our children will learn, and it may well be worse when they are doing it as they get older. However, if we are kind to people this is what our children will learn. If we are good to them they will learn to be good to others, including their own children some day. If we help others, they will learn to be of service to others and to care about someone other than just themselves. They will learn that they are not the most important person in the world, and that we are all created equal. If we do not give them every little thing their heart desires, and if we set up a system for them to earn things they want, they will learn how to work instead of feeling a sense of entitlement. If they are given shores from an early age and are expected to do them in the proper manner before earning a privelege, they will learn responsibility.
Second, expect good behaviour from the get-go. If we don't they will not necessary give it. Reward good behaviour, not bad behaviour. If they are being unruly, it is not a good idea to treat them to dinner out or a new toy. If they act up in line for something, or at a store while we are there to get something for them, leave without them getting it. Be careful not to fall into the trap of trying to bribe them, either. "If you are good on the bus I will get you a toy." This is not a good idea, and rarely works in the long run. Telling a child the same thing three or four times because they are not behaving should not necessitate the need to buy them anything. They will learn they can have what they want whether they behave or not, causing problems for them as they get older at home, school and work, as well as in society itself.
Third, remember they are our responsibility and not societies. While it is wonderful if friends and family are their for support and to help us along our parenting paths, they and other members of society are not responsible for our children. Be their parent first and friendship will grow while they are young adults.
Fourth, no matter what people want to believe parenting style is at least partially responsible for what their children do even when they are outside the home. Free will only goes so far. If a child is not treated well growing up, it is entirely likely that they will grow up with problems that are not only their own fault. The parents are partially to blame for their adult childs behaviour just as they were when the children were growing up. This is a hard truth, for sure. But it is one that needs to be taken into consideration. How we treat a child can, and often will, dictate the kind of person that child will become. Now, sometimes there is a child who is honary at best, even when the parents are responsible and treat their children well. This is an entirely different situation. Still, they need to have consistency.
Fifth, remember that parents are not perfect. We do make mistakes. Just because we make a mistake does not mean our child will grow up wrong. It just means that we have a lesson to learn ourselves, and this is okay. We should learn it and move on. Not beat ourselves up over it.
Sixth, let children of all ages learn from natural consequences. But be aware that we may have to add to them. Groundation teaches good lessons, especially when you take away things like television, cell phones, laptops and other things they find important. Doing so tells our children that we are very unhappy with their choices, and that we expect better from them in the future. Try not to take away family time, as these are bonding experiences. But, it is fine if you bring a dinner from home for one child who does not deserve pizza out. The family get-together part is important, but the sandwich from home lets them know you are serious.
Seventh, be sure to raise them to help others. If we have an ailing or elderly family member, we can reasonably have our children help us to help them. As teenagers, they can do more on their own. If we have elderly neighbors, it is fine to expect our children to aid aid in doing things for them. Volunteer as a family. Help someone cross the street. Carry bags out of the store for someone who does not get around easily. This further teachers children how to care. How to love.
And, allow them to make mistakes. This goes hand-in-hand with natural consequences. No one is perfect. Going overboard with punishment will not help our cause, but disciplining will. However, really consider the discipline. Is there an important lesson that the child learned already. Perhaps a discussion letting them know what is expected of them in the future, and what the disciplinary action (on top of whatever natural consequences) will be.
Last, we need to be careful how we treat the childs father. And how we react to situations with him. As well as how we talk about him behind his back. It is not only important for a child to learn to respect his or her mother, but the father as well. If the father is in the picture, meet with him alone to discuss how important it is to show respect for each other not only in front of the children but also with others. We may not always agree, but the important thing is the children involved. Do it for them.
With these guidelines, single moms will have an excellent chance of raising morally sound children with good character.
In my next article, we will further explore how you can be a great single mom.
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