Editor’s Note: To celebrate Mother’s Day, we asked our friends in the dad-o-sphere and beyond what was the greatest lesson their mom taught them that they apply to their own children. Here’s the first wave of responses. Come back tomorrow for more. – KMcK.
My mom taught me to play soccer. My mom didn’t know anything about soccer other than that it involved a ball people kick with their feet for some reason, but that was enough for her to spend hours every day kicking the ball around with me. And that was enough to give me a lifelong love of soccer and a lifelong appreciation of my mom’s dedication.
My mom taught me you don’t have to be an expert at anything to be a good parent. You want your kids to love playing music? Get them a cheap guitar and show them the two chords you barely know. You want them to love science? Show them the one easy experiment you saw on YouTube. You want your kids to love writing? Sit down with them, make up a story and write it down. Your kids’ passions won’t come from seeing you excel, but from seeing you get involved.
Dedication and imagination
My mother taught me enough dedication and imagination for a two-parent family. She raised me and my brother by herself. My sons are the beneficiaries of so much more love as the result of her parenting and my experience as a father, so far, couldn’t have been as full and embracive without her influence. My mother helped teach me to be a loving father.
My mom was the one in the neighborhood who always was available to drive to and from any activity, and she insisted on taking anyone home who did not have a ride. She worked full-time as an elementary school teacher but always managed to make the time, be there for anything and everything, and show sincere interest. She was also welcome at all sporting events until the day she walked on a wrestling mat to tell the referee how to do his job. After that she was banned – LOL. Because of her example of always being available, I am the one my girls look to whenever they need a ride anywhere, even Philadelphia and Boston to visit camp friends … if I am in town, they can count on me driving.
The power of speech
One of the things I remember clearly from my childhood is how my mother spoke to me. As early as I can remember, my mother spoke to me in a way that treated me less like a baby and more like a developing young man. We were certainly not peers, so let’s be clear about that. But, my mother wanted me to develop my language skills and expand my vocabulary, so that I might be able to express my thoughts and feelings clearly.
My wife and I have since applied this philosophy into our parenting. Our 3-year-old daughter articulates her thoughts clearly, listens well and is advanced verbally for her age. I believe this is due in large part to how we have spoken to her since birth. Thank you, Mom, for showing me that this is a sound and impactful parenting style. Your granddaughter thanks you, too!
Give them space to grow
One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my mother was to give your kids space to develop their own interests, and once they do, you do whatever you can to support them in the pursuit of it. I was read to from a very early age and quickly became enamored with comic books once I could read myself. From there my interests expanded to include drawing and art. I remember my mom carting me all over town to convenience stores and flea markets find comics and searching art supply stores for the right paper and pencils. I would run home and retreat to my room for hours reading and drawing.
I am sure my mom would have rather me hang out with the rest of the family and be social, but she saw how passionate I was about drawing and supported me unconditionally. I am keeping a close eye on our son to see what he becomes passionate about, but it’s hard when kids today get scheduled to do so much. I often wonder, “Is this something he really wants to be doing or is the schedule keeping him from discovering his passion?”
My mom taught me that it was OK to be who I was. If I’m a good person and do the right thing it doesn’t matter what other people think. I try to take that lesson with me in my interactions and relationships today. Accepting people for who they are.