Back in my days of raising kids, there was no internet to search out mom advice. We couldn’t just leap onto the nearest computer (or phone) to search for problems too big for us to solve on our own. Instead, we cut articles out of magazines or went to the library to find books on the subject.
In my mom’s time, the most popular way to get advice was to check in with a set of twins: Dear Abby and Ann Landers. Our town’s newspaper held the Ann Landers column and my mom loved her open and gruff approach. In those days, instead of pinning things to a virtual board on a computer, articles were cut out and put on refrigerators and bulletin boards. Our house was full of yellowing news clippings by Ann Landers that my mom found particularly profound.
One of Ms. Landers’ most popular columns was her twelve steps to follow for raising kids. Moms the world over begged her to reprint it and she did again and again. And, now, many decades later, I am reprinting it for you. It’s amazing how well her advice holds up after all this time.
See if you agree with her twelve steps to raising a child.
- Remember that a child is a gift from God, the richest of all blessings. Do not attempt to mold him in the image of yourself, your father, your brother or your neighbor. Each child is an individual and should be permitted to be himself.
- Don’t crush a child’s spirit when he fails. And never compare him with others who have outshined him.
- Remember that anger and hostility are natural emotions. Help your child to find socially acceptable outlets for these normal feelings or they may be turned inward and erupt in the form of physical or mental illness.
- Discipline your child with firmness and reason. Don’t let your anger throw you off balance. If he knows you are fair, you will not lose his respect or his love. And make sure the punishment fits the crime. Even the youngest child has a keen sense of justice.
- Remember that each child needs two parents. Present a united front. Never join with your child against your mate. This can create in your child (as well as in yourself) emotional conflicts. It can also create feelings of guilt and insecurity.
- Do not hand your child everything his little heart desires. Permit him to know the thrill of earning and the joy of receiving.
- Do not set yourself up as the epitome of perfection. This is a difficult role to play 24 hours a day. You will find it easier to communicate with your child if you let him know that mom and dad can err too.
- Don’t make threats in anger or impossible promises when you are in a generous mood. Threaten or promise only that which you can live up to. To a child, a parent’s word means everything. The child who has lost faith in his parents has difficulty believing in anything.
- Do not smother your child with superficial manifestations of “love”. The healthiest love expresses itself in day-in, day-out training, which breeds self-confidence and independence.
- Teach your child there is dignity in hard work, whether it is performed with callused hands that shovel coal or skilled fingers that manipulate surgical instruments. Let him know a useful life is a blessed one and a life of ease and pleasure-seeking is empty.
- Do not try to protect your child against every small blow and disappointment. Adversity strengthens character and makes us compassionate. Trouble is the great equalizer.
- Teach your child to love God and to love his fellow humans. Don’t SEND your child to a place of worship, TAKE him there. Children learn from example. Telling him something is not teaching him. If you give your child a deep and abiding faith in God, it can be his strength and his light when all else fails.
What would you add to the list?
Read more of Ann’s contributions to allmomdoes here.