You know, I am by no means a parenting expert. I’ve never even read a parenting book in my life. I bought one last month, but when I opened it on my plane ride yesterday, I made it about three minutes in before my flying anxiety took over and I gave up. Regardless, I think I’m raising a pretty amazing kid (biased I know). And each and every single day, I receive at least one message from a stranger asking me about my parenting with Marlowe… or complimenting on my awesome kid… or asking if I’ll help raise their kids (haha).
You know, I know very well that it’s not easy to see how someone truly is via the internet. (It’s determined that I’m a hell of a lot more wacky than I give off on this space.) There are plenty of sweet and awesome looking photos of probably nightmarish kids out there. I mean, who wants to post about all the wrong-doings of their kid? Hopefully not a lot of people…
But I have to tell you, with Marlowe, what you see is what you get. She has had maybe three tantrums— EVER. MAYBE THREE. I know there are all types of people (kids) in the world. Some of us are more adventurous and loud, some are more timid and book types. People and kids can be all over a spectrum of energy and personality. But quiet or loud, doesn’t determine your manners, empathy, kindness, curiosity and more. Marlowe does fall on the more quiet side, this I am aware of, but she has her silly adventurous side too. Yes, she can totally get a case of the grumps here and there (don’t we all?) but overall she is a kind, obedient, really, really sweet and well-behaved kid. I’m certain both nature and nurture play a role.
I never, not ever thought I’d be writing a post, especially one bordering on a “how to” post on child raising, but since I receive so many messages from you guys about mothering, here we are. I could probably ramble and give so many more details about our relationship on the day-to-day, but here are my simple thoughts on living and growing a kid at home and in the world. This isn’t a super bullet point list of rules, but more like a gathering ideas that I think help aid in being able to raise an awesome a child, then this is it.
My Simple Parenting Rules To Raise A Kind, Happy, & Awesome Human:
Children are little humans:
Maybe you guys didn’t realize this, but children are people too, haha. I’m half kidding, but I honestly think a lot of adults overlook this. Children are tiny humans capable of a lot of things. And I think one of the most important things we can do for kids is to treat them this way. They deserve the same respect as any other human in the world. Treat them like incapable and needy children, and they’ll act like incapable and needy children. Make them feel capable, even when challenged, and they’ll grow.
At times, I’ll offer help to Marlowe, but mostly I let her attempt to do things for herself. Adults don’t like to feel belittled, and I’m guessing most children don’t either. When deciding to offer help/assistance to a kiddo, consider how your offer would make them feel. Whether it’s making the bed or building a giant lego tower, they’ll feel more accomplished without you telling them how to do these things, or telling them what they did wrong. Instead lend a hand when necessary, but not as boss, but rather a fellow human. Kids are people too, treat them this way.
Say yes often:
I mean, you gotta say no too. But I think it’s important to say yes when you can. “Can we stay another five minutes?” Those five minutes might not mean much to you, but they can be big for a kiddo. Marlowe knows when I say, “no” it’s because I have to– not necessarily because I want to. I do my best to say yes when and where I can and then say no, only when I have to. And yes, sometimes “no” comes because I’ve had a really hard day and just don’t have the emotional or physical capacity to say yes anymore. But she understands that if I could, I would say YES.
This rule also applies to can’t/won’t /negative conversation terms. You want them to liven a world of yes too. The world should be an endless place of possibility and wonder for kids. You don’t know need to crush them. Build them up! YES, the world can be hard, but YES everything is possible. Tell them yes. YES, it is a big and sometimes scary world out there, but YES they have a ton of power inside of them and they should know this.
Flowers or weeds:
One of my absolute favorite quotes is: “the difference between a flower and a weed is judgement.” We live by this. We see flowers. Raise your kid to see flowers with you. Do this by seeing flowers yourself. You see flower, you show flowers, you teach flowers, you breathe flowers, they do too.
How do you introduce the world to your kids? With positivity and hope? Do you show them that the glass is half full? Or do you have a negative attitude yourself? Are you bummed that your kid complains or whines often? Do you want your kid to be positive and happy? They’re attitude is directly related to yours. See flowers.
Speak how spoken to
This goes hand in hand with my other ideas– but if I want Marlowe to treat me with respect, I have to show her what respect looks like. I can’t yell at her, put her down, or be a completely negative person and not expect her to think that’s the norm. And not expect her to speak to me and others that way. If I want her to be a kind and empathetic human being, I have to be a kind and empathetic human being.
This last week we traveled and had a really rocky plane experience. You guys know that I don’t do well on planes. Well, I broke down. I cried. And as we arrived to our stop-over location I told Marlowe, “I think we might drive the rest of the way. I don’t think I can handle being on another plane. I don’t want to pass my fears to you and I don’t want to break down in front of you again”.
She responded, “It’s okay mama. I’ve been on planes my whole life. I’m not scared of planes. I know you have a fear of planes. I respect your fears, because they’re your fears. We all have fears. It’s normal. And its okay.”
How does my eight year old child speak to me this way? Because I treat her like a tiny respect deserving human. We have conversations about her emotions and her life. And I give her positive light and outlook, even when things get rough. I speak to her this way. And she has learned to treat others the same in return.
You know those kids who whine at their parents or yell or talk back to them? Kids don’t come out of the womb this way. They learn to act this way because it’s what they’ve been shown. I treat her with respect the same way I treat others around me with respect. Now she does too.
You are what you eat… and how you sleep… and more…
The other thing that will affect how your child reacts in the world is diet. 100% I am a huge believer that this affects EVERYTHING. Obviously what you eat directly affects your health. You guys know how we feed Marlowe. She gets desserts and treats on occasion. But we leave out most of the junk most of the time. How do you feel after eating a large not-great-for-you meal? Do you feel energized and ready to take on the day? Or do you feel lethargic or maybe anxious? What you put in your body will either make you feel better or worse.
Now imagine eating high processed high fat or maybe high sugar foods and being 1/3 of your size. Imagine how that non-food gets processed in a tiny body. We can’t feed kids “food” and expect them to function at optimal levels and process emotions and energy properly. It doesn’t work that way.
Marlowe is expected to eat well. I can’t expect her to behave well unless I feed her well. Simple.
Also sleep. Sleeps is so so so important for everyone, but especially growing kids. There are of course exceptions, but cranky kids often just need a good, healthy meal and proper sleep. Oh and hydration– WATER is so important! I could go on and on, but all these things matter. You can read my post on not getting sick while traveling, this post explains not only how we travel, but essentially how we try to function at optimal levels all the time.
ps. Waffles are a treat, not the norm for us. pps. Now I’m craving waffles.
Silly but stern
I believe in being Marlowe’s friend. I’m silly with her. Create art with her. Laugh and joke with her. I don’t take myself too seriously ever, but I especially try to do this with her. I think this helps her put trust and comfort in me– and it also shows her to never take herself too seriously. I want her to embrace all the creative and silly parts of herself without feeling judged.
But on the same side, I’m stern when I need to be. If she breaks a rule, isn’t kind, or if I need her to listen, I’ll take a more serious tone. Not that I’ll yell, I don’t need to yell, but she knows there’s fun time and time to be serious in life time too. This is one of the harder things– as there is a delicate balance between friendship and parenting– and I know the boundaries will get more difficult as she gets older. But I do want/need her to trust me and find comfort and friendship in me, while knowing that I’m going to put her best interest first, even if she doesn’t always love it.
Happy moms make happy kids
I’ve said “happy moms make happy kids” for the past 8 years or so. Every interview I’ve ever done about parenting has included this quote. And it’s true. It’s not easy to show a positive and happy world to your kids, if you don’t see a happy and positive world for yourself. Taking care of yourself is vital to being a good and happy human, and in turn, a good and happy mom. Take care of yourself for yourself— and for your kids.
But also remember, that no one is perfect. And striving for perfection doesn’t necessarily bring happiness. It’s okay to be down and have a hard days. But try to make hard days the exception, not the rule.
At the end of the day, we’re all human. So I think the most important thing is to kind, be respectful, and just do your best 🙂 Again, these are just the simple, unspoken rules we live by in our home. I’m not telling anyone that their parenting style is wrong– we all are different parents in the world. But since you asked, I just wanted to share a few things I believe in for parenting my kid 🙂
ps. I was only planning on listing about four things. And here we are. I seriously could go on and on <3
pps. just to keep it real: here’s a photo of a tired, dehydrated, in need of food Marlowe 😉
pops. she made that dress. I’m forever impressed.
all photos taken by Celia D. Luna <3<3