Kids and Life Lessons: Things I Got Right (and Wrong)

girl on swing

I can't believe how quickly time move sometimes.  Not sure if its because I am older (and more mature, a-hem) or if its because one of my kids is going into his senior year of high school.

LOL!  What am I thinking!!??!!  Of course its because of senior year.  Women don't get older … they only get better.  😉

It does get me thinking about when the kids were little.  Reflecting really.  Have I taught them enough lessons about life?  Do they have the tools to make their way in this world?

Like most parents, there were things I did right and most certainly things I wish I could go back and do better.

Here is what I *think* I did right.

Take Them to the Grocery Store

Wish I did this more often than I did.  Its a great opportunity to teach them the difference between cost and value.  How to read the cost per unit vs sale & retail price and what are you really getting for your money

Needs v Wants

Here we talked a lot.  What is a need?  “Clothes on our backs, food on the table and a roof over their heads.”  I would say this so often its a house mantra.  🙂

Today, as teenagers, they both prefer experiences over gifts… unless its books, they both are book worms.  Their library cards get a good workout.  lol.

Gifts on Birthdays and Holidays

Every Christmas, we would write letters to Santa Claus.  The letter format was always the same.

Dear Santa Claus,

My name is ____ and I am x years old.  This year I was (good, bad) and lets be honest, they always listed very good haha and am most proud of (list 3 good deedsit got them thinking about how they earned these gifts – kind of like a company bonus).

Since I was so good this year, could I please have:  (list 3 gifts).  I limited them to 3 things because I wanted them to think about what was most important to them.

Thank you.

This was always interesting because I never knew what they were going to say.  When my daughter was 3 and 4, she asked for only one thing each of those years.  I wish I could say a Barbie or book or some princess outfit, but she didn't.  At three, she wanted… to go to Santa Claus house.  At four, she wanted to meet a real princess.  Could we make things any harder???  Good grief.

So why three gifts only?

Because I wanted them to really think about what was truly important to them.  To think about what they appreciate and value.  Now that they are teenagers they follow the same line of thinking and hardly ever ask for stuff.  Of course now as teenagers, when they do ask, its usually a big one.

Being Part of a Team

This passed Friday was my turn to bring in breakfast for our breakfast club.  I usually bake a variety of things to bring in but Thursday was so busy that I didn't have time to do any of it.  My kids stepped up and did all the baking and clean up.

Honestly I didn't think anything of it.  At work though, people were so impressed.  Not only did they do all of the baking but cleaned up the kitchen and didn't ask for any kind of bribery to do the work.  It was a true team effort mentality.

Take Responsibility

So important.  This is one I seem to always come back to.  Not only for themselves but for myself.  Its easy to blame others for your circumstance.

[bctt tweet=”We can not fix what we do not own.” username=”PieLadyFI”]

We can not fix what we do not own.  Taking responsibility for the part we play is 50% of the battle to making things better.

My advice to them (and myself) is always to focus on your part and what you can do to make things better.  Don't waste your time and energy blaming the other person.  There is nothing you can do to make them change their ways… focus on the part you played and take steps to make things right.

Things I Could Have Done Better

Talk (a lot) Less and Listen More

While I have gotten better at this over the years, I was horrible at it in the beginning.  It is still a work in progress for me to learn to use fewer words to get the same point across, and, then, stop talking.  Oh and lets not forget, once said and understood, LET – IT – GO … until the next time it happens.  So hard for me.  Can't keep beating them up over things they did in the past.

Allow Them to Make Their Own Mistakes

Honest to goodness, if I could, I would wrap both kids up in bubble wrap.  But all that would do is make them more dependent on me.  Which is a selfish thing to do.  Its tough, as a mom, to let go after doing everything for them from birth.  It tough to see them as budding adults capable of making some decisions and taking on more responsibility.

As they grow, our relationship changes.  Some kids push back when they are ready to take on more responsibility.  Some kids need a little nudge to do the same.  All in all, the next phase is to allow them to make their own mistakes as those are the lessons that will stick with them more than anything I could ever say.

Bite my Tongue

Sometimes, I am better off not saying anything.  But its so hard when you know they are about to make a huge mistake.  Sigh … if they would only just listen to me.

Sometimes when I hear a decision they make, its all I can do to not open my mouth.  I say to myself, “ok, its not the end of the world.  Its a bad choice but the lesson they learn will be worth much more than anything I can say”.  The is what I keep telling myself until the inevitable happens.  And when it does, I am there, listening to the disappointment in their voice and not taking.  No one is asking for my opinion.  🙂


Child rearing is not for the faint of heart.  Its the hardest job I have ever had and at times thankless.  But watching them grow up and knowing that I had some small part in who they are growing up to be, makes me proud.

Oh, and that, Meet a real princess request, she eventually did get, for her birthday, a few months later.

A friend of mine's best friend has a daughter who was in the local pageant circuit.  She graciously offered to come over, all dressed up and read The Princess and the Pea (which she autographed) to my daughter and all her friends.

Maybe I did ok as a parent after all.  Raising kids is like baking, you don't really know how they are going to turn out until they come out of the oven.

+ posts