They Say The Best Things in Life are Free…
From cultivating a sense of humour, to proving the importance of hard work, there is so much money can’t buy. Thinking about what your own mama has taught you, you’re sure to find similarities in what you’re now teaching your own little ones (unique family customs and traditions included!). Mums are often the person we expect to have (literally) all the answers – and while we know there’s something to be learned from everyone (yes, dad, you too!), there’s just so very much to take-away from the wonder-woman who raised you:
1. To Have Good Manners:
All those times you whispered, “say please!” as a gentle reminder, start to pay off when politeness becomes a practice your kiddo adopts. Holding the door open for strangers, giving up your seat on a bus, serving your gran at the table first, picking up dropped groceries, cleaning up after yourself, and even just pausing what you’re doing to help someone in need. Living in a busy city sometimes means that manners are not made a priority, but no amount of money in the world can make a person polite, or grant them social etiquette. That “old fashioned” chivalry will never go out of style.
2. To Be Confident:
From their very first step and first word, to all the important steps and speeches they’ll go on to make throughout their life, you are the one who gives them the confidence to do so. That sense of inner contentment is established, and nurtured, when you grow up surrounded by unconditional love. And no one knows more about unconditional love than parents! No matter how big your little one gets, there’s one reoccurring person they’ll call when they need a pick-me-up, one person who they’ll ask for an opinion when they want an honest one (followed by a compliment) – and yup, that’s you, mama. Its reassuring to know that, no matter what, they can count on you to believe in them at all times – that’s enough to give anyone self-confidence!
3. To Stay Creative and Imaginative:
A child’s imagination is the most extraordinary intangible (even superior to the, ahem, masterpieces now proudly resting on the mantelpiece). We talk a lot about how future generations will not be exposed to creativity in the same way – they won’t, and that’s okay. With 13 year olds texting faster and far more frequently than I do, it’s not surprising that growing up in a city can mean less outdoor-time and more TV-time. I think as long as parents are still encouraging art, in all it’s engaging forms (painting, dancing, designing, performing, writing – just creating!) then they’re still encouraging growth in a beautiful and necessary way. Our creativity is an aspect of our character that no person and no thing could ever replicate. Machines and apps are all very well when producing iPhones and calling an Uber, but it’s the brain behind the idea that made technology successful in the first place. It’s important to grow up knowing that.
4. To Be Optimistic:
Growing up, when I was asked if I believed in superstitions, I would proudly declare, “no, I only believe in good luck”. It was only later, when people pointed out how ridiculous that was, that I realised they may be right. I thought for a while about why I still make wishes when I blow out birthday candles, yet I’ve never believed black cats to be bad luck – I realised, quite simply, that it was because the people who raised me, raised me to focus on the positive. From searching for that silver lining, to counting my blessings: I realised I may not be a realist. I know, at times, I can be a world-class pessimist and at others, a hopeless optimist. But somewhere between being a chronic cynic and a heartbreaking romantic, I found positivity – and I know I owe that (almost entirely) to my upbringing.
5. To Be Kind:
Arguably, compassion cannot be taught. But if children learn by example then this is something you’ve been teaching from day one! Sure, everyone needs a moment in the naughty corner (or a month of being grounded) but generally, I was taught: “If in doubt, be kind”, “Be true: to yourself and to others”, and of course “Stand up for what is right”. Having a mum who has spent most of her life devoted to (well, her family, and…) teaching students with special needs, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing just how far a mama’s kindness can go. It’s pretty impressive to see compassion demonstrated every day, in so many ways. Role model? Tick!
6. To Practice Patience:
Anxious, annoyed, irritable kids are not fun – least of all when you’re feeling anxious, annoyed and irritable yourself. Deep breath, mamas. Practice patience. Now, this is a virtue that my mum has (in excess) that hasn’t quite rubbed off on me as much as I’d like. Patience with yourself, and patience with those around you – neither are easy, and I seem to have inherited my Dad’s need to check the time every 7 minutes (luckily, I also inherited his punctuality). From waiting in line, waiting for replies, waiting for the calm and waiting for the future, I guess good things do come to those who (work hard whilst they) patiently wait.
7. To Remain Respectful:
Having self-respect and giving respect to all those around you – whether it’s mutual or not (you don’t represent other people, you represent yourself). With respect as a key family value comes the ability to treat others the way you’d like to be treated, the ability to forgive, the ability to apologise with words AND with actions – and so much more! With true respect for others, comes modesty and appreciation. If you’re teaching your child to respect the elderly man who sweeps the street every morning, you know they’ll never litter. If you’re teaching them to respect their siblings, you know you’re giving them a playmate for life. And if you’re teaching them to realise that no job or chore will ever be beneath them, regardless of their age and status, then you just might get some help with those unwashed dishes!
8. To Take Care of Yourself:
Said “eat those greens” and “brush those teeth” one too many times? It’ll be worth it when they grow into healthy, happy, vitamin-taking adults. From the cortisone content in eczema cream, to making sure that brown asthma inhaler is used, a mum is a full-time doc (spare plasters in every handbag – check!). And if you’re worried about making sure that they can take care of others? Don’t be. You’ve been showing them how to do that their whole life! So don’t stress, mamas, if your child ever wants an example of how to live life for others, you can be sure they’ll look to their parents – you guys have been doing it without even realising.
9. To Be Aware and Accepting:
Common sense. Enough said? Even the self-proclaimed-finest education in the world can’t teach this. There are things you can change and there’s plenty you can’t – no amount of money can change that. Persevering through life’s hiccups, whilst maintaining a sense of acceptance is a real skill, and it’s a skill that’s hard to teach! Simultaneously raising awareness, whilst raising little ones can be tricky, especially when there is so much you want them to learn. Awareness of their culture, heritage and family history, awareness about (past and present) world issues, human rights, diversity and inclusion, and of course, the basic awareness that comes with recognising just how lucky they are…
10. To Be Grateful:
“Thank you” is definitely a universal phrase (on my bucket list to learn how to say it in 31 languages!) and, I’m lucky that those two little words have been so deeply ingrained in my family culture, that they’ve moved past being a last minute add-on, and become a feeling I can always rely on. Whether it’s appreciation for bare necessities (it’s easy to forget parents are the ones who gave you food, shelter, warmth… oh, and life!), or just a passing “thanks” when you top up a glass of water at the dining table, it’s nice to know you’re raising children that aren’t taking all the small things for granted. That’s something worth being thankful for in itself!
They say parents lead by example (a slightly worrying thought), but frankly, if your little ones are growing up happy (most of the time), and you’re raising them happily (some of the time), then you’ve got to be doing something right!
Don’t worry, mamas, we know the list goes on WAY past 10!