|Monica Quiroga Maldonado
A very dear friend of mine, Monica, wrote this and I felt compelled to share it with all of you:
Quite often, I am asked how I managed to raise such great kids; especially being a single mother with such humble beginnings. Whether it’s Rico holding the door for people without being told, cleaning, taking out the trash, saying yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir or no sir; or Lynette excelling at school, in community service, or in a pageant, my children elicit raised eyebrows almost any where we go because they are so well mannered.
It wasn’t easy, but it is doable. And, today, I will share my secrets with you.
1. START EARLY- my children, from the time they were old enough to crawl, have had their manners instilled in them. They never knew how to throw a tantrum, suck on a pacifier, or run around a restaurant.
2. BE JUDGMENTAL- If there is a child acting up in public, express your disgust with the behavior, i.e., “I can’t believe anybody would let their kids act like that! What awful parents they must have; thank goodness YOU are better behaved.”
3. BE A PAIN- know where your kids are, and make sure that they know that you know. For every ten times you trust them expressly, drop in on where they say they are going to be by surprise. That keeps them on their toes.
4. BE PUBLIC- make sure you have a positive reputation in your community. Do community service, join a church, be political- be ANYTHING that keeps your name and your kids in the public eye.
Make sure you take your kids with you to events, so other parents and community leaders keep an eye on them for you- AND your kids are fully aware of it.
5. INFORM YOUR KIDS- talk to them about what you do every day, at work, at home, and in the community; include how your day benefits the family, specifically their lives.
6. ENCOURAGE THEM- Praise their accomplishments, even minor ones, as though they just won the Nobel Prize. Discipline them when they have done wrong, then move on.
7. DON’T CALL THEM NAMES- Your kids are not “Stupid”. They may do stupid things. They are not “Bad”; they did something bad. Children internalize the names they are called at school, and accept those names as factual if ratified at home.
8. BRAG ON YOUR CHILDREN- NOBODY ELSE will do this for them, including themselves. At school, kids are taught that they are all equal, so it is up to YOU to let them know they are special.
9. NEVER EVER EVER EVER INSULT THEIR OTHER PARENT- No matter what you think of your partner/ ex partner, no matter how wrong they are, no matter WHAT- remember that kids get 1/2 of their DNA from their other parent; therefore when you say something bad about them, your child will hear “1/2 of YOU is an @*&!!”. If you are a single parent, NEVER keep your kids from them; if the other parent truly isn’t worth a hoot, your child will find that out on their own. Be the good parent and catch them when they fall; they will lean on you when the other parent lets them down. This is often the hardest rule to follow, because we carry pain from a broken relationship, bitterness and heartache; and the best way to hurt the other adult is through your children. However, there can come no good from being bitter.
10. BE A REAL “ADOPTED PARENT” TO THEIR FRIENDS- If your child has company, automatically adopt the friend; they get the same rules, they are held to the same manners, they help clean, etc. Kids, particularly teenagers, will gravitate to the most steady parent of their friends- BE THAT PARENT. If both kids do wrong, lecture them both, and at the same time. If you ground your kids, ground the friend from contacting your kid too; then make them all earn your trust again. Friends WANT you to like them- as do your kids. And YES- accept FB friend requests from your kids’ friends. That’s often the best way to ensure that all the kids are doing right.
11. IF YOU DON’T LIKE YOUR KID’S FRIEND LET THEM BOTH KNOW- it might offend the other kid, but it’s the best way to make sure everyone understands whether or not they are welcome in your home. If necessary, explain to the other parent that their child is not welcome, as well as the reasons why. If nothing else, it puts the other parent on alert to keep an eye on their kid.
12. TELL THEM EVERY DAY THAT YOU LOVE THEM- and mean it! They remember as they grow this simple act. If you simply cannot love them, by all means let them live with someone that does.
13. LET THEM PLAY- if they are not disruptive, encourage their silliness, their playful side, their desire to dance in public, or tell jokes! They are, after all, children. There is plenty of time for them to be serious- like for the rest of their lives.
14. SET THE EXAMPLE- Be the person you want your children to be. My kids speak English because I speak English. They sleep at night because I sleep at night. They learn from us first and foremost. SO, if you are negative, self-conscious, pessimistic, or unhappy, your children will reflect your attitude. Embrace your flaws- I often tell my kids that I am the happiest fat girl in the world! Be happy with yourself, and your children will love themselves as well!
15. SET CLEAR RULES- my children know exactly what I expect from them; that makes it very easy for them to comply. Confuse your children, and they will act out from frustration in not understanding their parameters. Kind of like cueing a horse, you must be consistent or you’ll wind up on your hind end.
16. LOVE YOURSELF, RESPECT YOURSELF, MAKE YOURSELF HAPPY. This seems so simple, but if you do not, your children will not respect you, and believe that they themselves deserve to be unhappy adults.
These simple guidelines can and will help single parents, couples, and anyone else raising kids- I promise. This, my friend, is the road map for happy, emotionally healthy, and respectful kids.
Mommy loves you both so much, kiddos. I am so proud of you, and fortunate to have earned my “Mommy Badge” with you. You are the most amazing gifts I could ever have oped for. Kisses and hugs forever and ever.