Parenting: 10 Years and 10 Lessons

This has been a year of milestones for ZJ. He turned 10 years old on April 6th  and will be officially entering school this fall as a Jr High Schooler. I can go on and on about all the 1st we have entered this year but I’ll spare the details. Having had ZJ just 4 months shy of my 21st birthday I had no idea what to expect nor was I prepared for the bumps along the way. With the help of my mom and just about everyone in my family I’ve been able to survive the first 10 years.

Here are 10 lesson/ pieces of advise I’d like to share.

  1. Pick and choose your battles.
    • There are curtain things I will refuse to fight about. Wearing a Buzz Lightyear costume to the store was one of them. Trust me! There are definitely worse things they can possible want. Fighting over wearing a costume well passed Halloween was one battle I wouldn’t even bother with.
  2. Its okay to give options
    • I’ve always tried to give ZJ the option to choose certain things for himself, insuring that he knows the consequence for the decisions he makes. Life is all about options, making decisions and understanding that there are consequences for every decision you make.
  3. Keep them up during those super energetic moments.
    • One thing that’s more stressful than anything is trying to keep kids calm and quiet during a sugar rush or those days when they wake up full of energy. My little method of dealing with times like this is to simply keep them up. Basically help them burn all that energy off, take them to the park or the yard and have them run around until they can’t anymore, put on some music and have dance party because when they finally crash, and believe me they will, it will be the best silence you have ever heard. Sometimes, when ZJ was about to hit his wall  I would set up a bubble bath with lavender essential oils than rub him down in some calming lotion. Knocks him out every time.
  4. Stand your ground.
    • I’m very easy going, I’ve been known to give second and third chances even when someone doesn’t deserve it. There is no denying that I have the biggest soft spot when it comes to ZJ. He’s charming , cute and knows just what he’s doing when he bats his eyes and tells me how pretty I am and how much he loves me. I’d be lying if I said those green eyes don’t make me just want to melt. However, after a few times of falling into this trap I knew I could’t continue to let him run all over me. If he did something unacceptable I had to stand my ground, let him know he was wrong and not show any signs of weakness.  If I said he was going to be punished I have to stick to my word even if seeing him upset or sad broke my heart
  5. If you say something mean it. Keep your word.
    • Along with standing your ground, keeping your word is important on things much more than just punishments.  ZJ holds me to my word especially when it comes to doing something cool. If told ZJ we would do something he’d get really excited than plans will fall through and I’m left feeling extremely bad. I learned to use words and phrases like “it’s a big maybe” and “I’m going to try” instead of promising anything I wasn’t 100% sure on. Sometimes I wouldn’t say anything until the day has come and we need to start getting ready to go.
  6. No baby talk! They are people too.
    • From day one I’ve made it a point to never baby talk to ZJ. Of course when he was a cute tiny little baby I would coo him up and down, I’m not made of stone for crying out loud. But when it came down to talking to him I never used “baby talk” I spoke clear so that he can understand me which also tough him how use his words and express himself clearly. I don’t do the whining and pointing with any child. Sorry, not sorry!
  7. Don’t underestimate how much they understand.
    • Often times as parents we find ourself having to explain difficult or even uncomfortable situations to our kids but never underestimate how much they understand. I am appropriately open with ZJ when it comes to a lot of things. Especially when it comes to friendships, changes in his body and most recently girls and why he’s heart races every time one in particular talks to him. Sometimes we as parents stress about how to break things down making the conversation more difficult or uncomfortable than it has to be.
  8. Don’t hover. Its okay for them to learn on there own.
    • This is still a learning process for me. I have some what of a difficult time letting ZJ do things on his own. I’m guilty of still serving him his dinner plate, sometimes even heating up left overs for him and even up until a year ago getting him something to drink when he was thirsty! I know he’s fully capable. But it’s the mom and the hispanic in me that won’t let me stop catering to my little king. So now with one eye on him and a few tips I let him figure things out on his own. Not only in the kitchen but when it comes to cleaning and organizing. They’re not going to learn survival skills if we as parents do EVERYTHING for them. A lesson I have to still keep reminding myself about. Like I said, still a learning process.
  9. EVERYONE needs to be on the same page. 
    • Most recently I’ve been having to deal with “pre-adolescent” behavior. Luckily for me I have a lot of family behind me to back up all of the ground rules I set into place. I like to make it a point with everyone who’s involved in ZJs life to be on the same page. If I say no TV for a week as a form of punishment than that rule needs to apply in everyone’s house. That doesn’t mean that even if we go to my moms house during his no tv punishment that he’s going to get a free pass because we’re at “Momma’s house” (Momma is what ZJ calls my mom). And it surely doesn’t mean that if he acts up at Momma or his Dad’s house that his consequences aren’t going to follow once he’s home.
  10. Hug, kiss and tell them you love them everyday as many times as possible. 
    • Finally, the last and most important thing to do when it comes to your child it to not be afraid to hug them and kiss them everyday. Build their confidence let them know that they are loved and they matter. The most important things that they can ever learn starts at home. I do my best to remind ZJ everyday not only about how much he is loved but to also love in return, to be kind, to be patient (something he constantly needs to be reminded of), to show compassion, to be brave and to give his all in every little thing he does. Because when you put all of those things together, the greatest blessings are sure to follow.

 

I am in no way an expert at kids. I don’t even believe that “experts” are actually experts. I believe that every child and every person are unique and different. No two kids are alike and it definitely takes a village. I believe in taking advise but also trusting your instincts.  Patience and having my family behind me has always been key for me. However, I can only hope I’m doing this parenting thing right.

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