Self

Now That My Children Are Grown, There Are A Few Things I Wish I Had Done Differently

Photo: Raisa Kanarevajpg / shutterstock.com
blonde mother and grown daughter

As a mother to four beautiful, intelligent, wise and loving children, I sometimes find myself looking back at how I parented. 

Am I proud of each and every moment? If I am being completely honest, I have to admit the answer is no.  

Does this mean I wasn't a good mom? No. But could I have been a better mom? Yes.

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Could I have done a better job as a parent?

When I look back there are many moments for which I feel pride. 

Among them is that I always made sure that each of my children always knew (and still know) how much they're loved.  

I've always worked hard to instill good morals within them. I worked to teach them the importance of compassion and respect. I tried to teach them the importance of faith and spirituality. 

I always told them they could be anything they wanted to be and that the world is their oyster. 

Most of all, I made sure they always knew that I will always believe in them.

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Specific ways I could have been a better mom

I believe there were times when I could have been a better listener. I could have been more attentive. 

I could have spent more quality time with them. Perhaps I should have been a little bit less of a friend and more of a mom.  

Yes, I drove them back and forth to practices and games when they were old enough to participate in sports/events. They attended religious classes. They participated in Scouts or 4-H. 

I attended school functions and events. I went on field trips. 

In my heart, I still believe that I could have done more.

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Where does parenting guilt come from?

My guilt comes from knowing that I wasn't always present. By this I mean that I was often preoccupied with work, taking care of our home, cooking meals, doing laundry — being a domestic engineer when I wasn't working.  

I believe it's important to remember that spending quality time with those we love isn’t just about money or lack thereof. It’s about being present and attentive.

I believe I could have been a little less selfish and thought more about their needs. 

This isn't to say that I didn't think to make them a priority, but I also have to admit that I made some mistakes, and I made some excuses. These are things I'm not proud of.

Sometimes we have to remember what it was like to be a kid.

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I'm still learning how to be a mom

I don't know that I did a great job in teaching them patience (although they all seem more patient than I was when I was their age). 

Patience is something I have acquired more of now that I am a bit older. This is still and always will be a work in progress.

I believe I could have really listened when they were whining or complaining because they needed to know they were being heard. 

Often when kids are acting out it’s because they want attention. Sometimes we need to stop what we are doing to ask them how they are doing or feeling.

When we get to the bottom of the situation, we often overcome the real issues.

I always told them that there are consequences for each and every decision they made. 

And we have to live with the consequences of our decisions. 

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The words we use matter

I do remember though that I never told any of my kids that they were bad.  

Instead, I said, "Please don't be naughty." 

And I absolutely despised the word, "hate." I believe that hate is such a strong word and always tried to remind them that dislike is a much better term to describe something or someone we don't care for. 

It's also important to remember compassion. When we teach our children that not everyone has the same things in life, they understand the importance of not taking life or luxuries for granted.  

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Learning how to parent from my own children

Now I watch my oldest daughter and her wife as they raise their amazing boys (my beloved grandsons). 

I see through them how I believe that I could have done better. I can't take credit for their parenting skills, but I can surely admire them. 

I see patience and kindness. When one of the boys is upset and crying, they kneel down to their level and remind them to "use their words." 

How beautiful is that? I wish I would have known this life skill.

Someone once told me that my kids would never amount to anything. I won't dwell on that, but I will say that they have all turned out to be amazing young adults. 

They have successful careers. They have positions that any mother would be proud of . . . and I am. 

Can I take credit for their hard work? No. They took the initiative. They had the will and desire to go after what they wanted. 

I'm beyond proud of who each and every one of my children has become.  

My oldest daughter and her family make a point of scheduling movie or game nights. Some days they do crafts. They share the kitchen with the kiddos and teach them important life skills.

They take them to the zoo or the park. I wish I would have done more of these things with my kids. 

Kudos to making quality time with your children. Hats off to you for thinking outside of the playroom or backyard.

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What can I do differently as a grandparent?  

I can be more present. I can learn to say "yes" to more things and adventures. This doesn't mean I have to say "yes" to everything.

After all, I do have a life of my own. But I can take time to make time.  

I have found that I try to make more time to do quality things with my grandchildren. 

We sit down on the floor and play. We color and draw together. Sometimes we make things with Play-Doh. We build things with connecting blocks. We do puzzles and play cars. 

We watch movies or TV shows.

I look back now and wish I would have done more of these things with my own children. 

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It's important to maintain balance 

I have learned so much from my children. I feel very blessed because we can talk about day-to-day things.

We can talk about problems or concerns. And when they see actions they don't agree with, they are not afraid to call me out. 

This isn't to say that we always see eye-to-eye on all parenting techniques but who am I to tell anyone how parenting should or should not be done? 

I know when I was their age, I certainly did not want to hear some of the suggestions that my parents made.

There were times when I didn't get much time to myself. Needing balance is not selfish. It's realistic.

Everyone was very busy doing their activities and there were often weeks on end when there was something going on every single day or night.

We have to make time for ourselves to be centered. It's OK to take a break every now and then. 

We can't stop nurturing ourselves just because we have children. 

In order for us to be better versions of ourselves we must remember the importance of self-care — a healthy balance between work and play.

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A little advice from a mom who knows

Be present. Take time to really listen. 

Remember, everyone has bad days — even our children and grandchildren.  

While we have to learn how to maneuver through these days, we also must teach our children that this is a realistic part of life. 

These are important life skills. We have to teach them that every single day is only going to be as good as we want to make it. 

We all have choices. Tomorrow is a new day, another chance to get it right. 

No one is perfect, not even moms or dads. But that's OK because we are all human. 

Every day is an opportunity for us to learn something new, to make a difference, to work at doing better.

See the good in others and teach your children the value of being kind and loving. At least I can say I got that part right!

They say that parents are meant to teach their children and while I believe I have done so in my own imperfect style, I will always acknowledge and be grateful for the many ways my children have taught me to love.

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Kathy Thielen is an energy healer and life coach who focuses on happiness, self-care, psychic healing, and relationships.

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