Life is a beautiful mess. It comes at us so fast, at times, we are spun around and lose sight of who we are and what is important.
This is true for parents and children alike – we almost need a map to navigate this ever-changing world. Yes, there will always be ups and downs, which makes life both challenging and a joyful adventure.
Helping your children learn their centering place, and knowing your own as a parent, are key to growing with your child. As we all know, perfect parenting doesn’t exist, but it sure helps to have a few guideposts to help us on our way.
That’s how I came up with my Parenting Pledge: 10 of the most important aspects of parenting for me, and what I aspire to in becoming the best mom I can be.
1. I will guide, not control
Control is for those who are insecure and unsure. If I catch myself trying to control, I will stop, reflect and redirect in an attempt to guide you towards the right decisions.
I will always try to let you lead where you are capable and it is appropriate. The sooner you learn to make the right decisions on your own, the more confident and better off we will all be.
2. I will discipline, not punish
The original Latin meaning of discipline is “to teach by example.” Punishment means to chastise, get even with, or penalize. In our home discipline is welcome, punishment is not.
I will always set you up for success to right your wrong, seeking solutions instead of criticizing. Kindness, love and compassion will be at the root of all discipline, not anger.
3. I will respect your individuality
You are a beautifully unique person with individual interests, feelings, and motivations. What works for you, may not work for your brother/sister.
I will always respect your individuality by listening, paying attention to your cues, and trying to understand your needs and who you are as a person.
4. I will laugh with you every day
As Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
Every day, I will find moments to pause, connect, and laugh with you. It doesn’t have to be roaring-out-loud, pee-your-pants laughter. Some days a simple smile will do.
5. I will ignite your imagination
I will encourage your talents, give you opportunities to explore your interests, and discover the beauty of the world around us in as many ways as possible through arts, dance, music, reading, spirituality, math, science, travel.
I will encourage your interests, even if they are not mine, because I want you to discover what you love and who you are.
6. I will let you fail
This might be one of the most challenging pledges for me, but also one of the most important. As Albert Einstein said, “Someone who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
I want you to be okay with failure. We all fail, but those who succeed in life pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try again.
I will encourage you to try new things and not coddle you through the process. Learning from failure can teach us more than succeeding the first try. The more you learn, the less afraid you are, the more confident you become, and the greater your chances for success.
7. I will be a good role model
You will learn about growing up by watching me. I will always try to be the best example possible. And that means behaving in a way that is in line with the aspirations I have for you: living a balanced life, staying healthy by eating right and being active, having fun and being responsible.
But most importantly, I will love and be kind to myself, and have a positive self-image by accepting myself as I am, strengths and weaknesses, ups and downs. For without love of the self, life can pull you down quite easily.
8. We will learn all we can together
There is so much to learn in life and it’s a bit daunting to think of all the values that make up a good human being: gratitude, self-control, empathy, love of learning, spirituality, positive thinking, solution-oriented, community-minded, charity and generosity.
I will strive to be present and in the moment each and every day, so that when a teachable moment presents itself, we can enjoy it and learn together. Inspiration and discovery are all around us; we just have to be present to realize them.
9. I will let you know you are #1
No matter how busy life and our daily routines become, we will have family time where we stop the world of noise and busyness (cell phones off, TV’s silent) and you will be my #1 priority above anything else. We will talk, listen, laugh and have fun together, and remember what really matters: there is nothing more important than you.
10. I will make sure you always feel loved
Last, but certainly not least, I will make you feel loved each and every day. I will say, “I love you” loudly, softly, in whispers and tickles, many times a day. I will hug you, cuddle and kiss you, look deep in to your eyes and smile with you. Sorry kiddos, but this is going to last a lifetime, yes, even into your teenage years. As a mommy, this is already becoming a daily habit – and you know how hard those are to break. So look forward to it for years to come.