What makes a good parent?

 

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After 20 years of caring for children and observing their behaviors I have formed many opinions on how to be a good parent and what not to do.  I am and always will be an advocate for children and I get really steamed when I see parents mistreating or neglecting a child.  It’s not easy to be a good parent, but I think it’s the most important job a person will ever have.

I truly believe every child needs love, stability and discipline in their daily lives.  Kids need to be hugged and nurtured, but they also need rules and schedules to help them cope with the stresses in life.  Without discipline kids develop bad behaviors which make school and friendships very difficult.  For instance, when I was little my friend’s sister was a brat.  Every time we tried to play together the sister would scream if she didn’t get her way.  My friend and I would try to ditch her every chance we got.  If parents spoil their kids and don’t teach them how to deal with disappointment then no one wants to be around them.  Do you want your kid to grow up alone with no friends or relationships?

A good parent can admit that they don’t know everything and need help from others.  It definitely takes a village to raise a child.  I don’t know how I would’ve survived getting my babies on a sleep schedule if it weren’t for books and my mother listening to me cry every day on the phone.  I thought my kids would never learn to nap.  Also a good parent can see that their child isn’t perfect and needs help.  I’m so sick of seeing kids behave wildly and know that they’re not getting the help they need.  Too many parents are in denial about their kids’ actions and don’t want to put their foot down and say “no” or take them to a doctor or therapist to find out why they are behaving in such a way that’s unacceptable in school and society.

Sometimes I don’t think parents realize the short term versus the long term when it comes to raising their children.  If today you teach them to be kind to others then they grow up happier because they think beyond themselves and give to others and our world.  If you don’t teach them right and wrong and discipline them for unacceptable behaviors today, then they grow up having trouble in school, can’t get or keep a job and possibly end up in jail.  Children need parents or guardians who guide them daily on their journey in life.  They need parents who will teach them how to survive and be successful in this world.

In my opinion, hugging your child and praising them daily while still enforcing the rules and setting expectations for them is the best way to raise a caring, independent, likable child.  Isn’t our goal as parents to raise our kids to be successful in life?  By this I mean able to function as an adult separate from us and having loving relationships in their lives that make them feel fulfilled all the while hopefully making a positive impact on our world??  There are some people that just shouldn’t be parents.  I wish more people would realize that about themselves instead of having kids and being a crappy parent.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a kid all I ever wanted to be was a singer. I loved to sing! I would spend hours in my bedroom singing with my stereo. I loved trying to mimic Whitney Houston. I knew my family could hear me, but having the door closed made me feel safe. I didn’t like to sing in front of people. I could sing with the stereo in the living room or in the car as long as it was loud enough that people couldn’t hear me. Also, my cousins and I would put on shows for our family at summer picnics. We would get all dressed up in costumes and have microphones and our little stereo. When it came to show time we would usually get scared and skip it.

In elementary school I would sing in the chorus because I had to, but when it came time to make a choice I would choose band over chorus. I was too afraid to join chorus for fear that I would be chosen for a solo or something. There was no way I could stand in front of a crowd and sing by myself. I always wished that I could, but I still haven’t done it. I hated being in band and didn’t enjoy playing the flute. I think it’s because singing makes me happy and I just couldn’t do it. In college I decided I would face my fears and join chorus. I took private voice lessons too. It was difficult for me to sing in front of my teacher, but I did it. Luckily I never had to sing a solo in chorus, but I’m so glad I pushed myself to pursue something I loved.

Obviously I knew I could never make a career out of it, but singing always makes me happy. To this day I enjoy belting out toons when no one is home and I regularly sing in the car and with my kids. I still have a vision in my head of me singing in a bar somewhere while playing the piano, but I doubt that will happen. One of my kids likes to sing and takes a theater class. She says that someday we will sing together onstage. Who knows! Maybe she’ll be the one that helps me get over my fear and pursue my dream of singing.

So what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you make it happen? If not, then what changed your mind?
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Do you have food issues?

I don’t know about you, but I have an issue with food. My issue is knowing what’s ok to eat and what’s not. It seems like there’s a new study out every day that says what is healthy and what will kill us. I struggle with what the hell is left to eat and what I can cook for my family!

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first child I worried about what I put in my body. This was the beginning of our organic lifestyle. Now after having two kids I am concerned even more. I’m always trying to find the healthiest food to feed to my family. Also, kids don’t always cooperate with the choices you make. For example, “I don’t like tomatoes” or “why can’t I have a hot dog?”

It’s tough deciding what to eat each day. The experts have always said to limit the amount of salt, sugar and fat you eat. That is not easy when you have a busy life, but ok we can do that. Then they tell us no artificial anything, limit the processed food you eat, become a vegetarian or a vegan. Holy shit! What’s left?

Then I snap out of it and think, I’m doing the best I can to limit these “bad” things and moderation is good. Still it’s not easy getting kids to eat healthy things on a regular basis. I splurge and I let them splurge at parties and gatherings, but for the most part I pay attention to the research and stay away from most “bad” foods. I do miss bacon and pepperoni though. Thanks World Health Organization for that. Also, I’m really pissed that alcohol can cause cancer. How am I supposed to relax about all of these food restrictions if I can’t drink? GRRRRRRR

So tell me about your healthy eating habits. Do you have the same issue with food in your home? Feel free to share information and recipes with me. Help, please!!!

 

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Do you ever look around and think “How do they afford things?”

When I was little I heard my parents talk about how much things cost and what they could afford.  I always thought you make money, buy what you need to live and save the rest for luxuries.  I didn’t understand loans, buying items with credit cards and investing money.  I just thought you get a paycheck and you buy what you can with that money.  Throughout my life I’ve seen people with good jobs have really nice things and wondered: how are they paying for it?  I guess I was very naïve and careful with my money.

I’m still conservative when it comes to spending money, but I feel like I have a better understanding of how you buy and pay for what you want in life.  I’ve learned that a lot of people in this country buy items, pay with multiple credit cards and live in debt.  I’m surprised how many credit cards a person can acquire and how much debt they can ring up without many consequences.  Others finance items like cars, furniture and home improvements.  On the other hand, my mom reminds me about how people inherit money, invest well or just know how to pinch a penny.  It’s very true.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people out there that work their tails off and have good paying jobs and make money to afford things.  I’m just amazed sometimes when I know how much my family brings in and how much we spend and I see that there isn’t always a lot left for luxuries.  That being said, my husband and I like to pay all of our bills on time and don’t have a lot of debt.  I also realize that the amount we paid in school loans could have been spent on other things.  Maybe some people don’t have school loans to pay.

When pondering these things I think: 1) what does that person or family do for a living 2) how do they spend the money they earn (food, clothing, housing, car, travel and possessions) 3) do they have a lot of debt, and 4) are they responsible with their money or do they spend frivolously?  There are lots of reasons why people are able to afford the finer things in life, but don’t you still wonder sometimes how your next door neighbor can afford their nice updated house, two beautiful cars, and a great vacation every year?  I know I do.  I’d like to be a fly on the wall when people make decisions about their money and what they buy.  So tell me how you afford things in life!!!!

What is your idea of a perfect vacation?

A couple of times a year I stop and think about taking a vacation.  I ponder where I would like to go this year and what trips I’d like to take in the future.  I’m not one of those people that thinks of it often and wishes they could fly off to get away from their life, but I do like to plan at least one long trip every year: ideally somewhere warm.  It wasn’t until I was an adult though that I realized this isn’t an ideal vacation for everyone.  Some people hate the heat and sand and would rather go to a cold location.  Other people want to see as many sites as possible in their lifetime.  So what makes a perfect vacation for you?

I myself like warm and sunny places where you can walk a lot.  I like seeing the sights and laying on the beach or lounging poolside.  I need a break from doing the dishes and making meals.  Great food, shopping, and entertainment is a plus and I prefer to rent a house rather than staying in a hotel room for a week.  The most important factor though is not rushing around.  I don’t want to get up early and rush out the door.  Sleep is nice on vacation, but I’m ok without it if I’m having fun and there’s a Starbucks nearby.  Sunsets are beautiful but I have yet to see a sunrise over the ocean.  And finally I like eating in bed when I can. Never leaving a comfortable bed is such a luxury on vacation!

I’ve been to various cities in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan, Nevada and California.  I’ve also traveled through Canada and enjoyed Aruba and Puerto Rico.  My favorite vacation spot so far is California.  I spent my honeymoon there and I loved every minute of it.  The weather is warm, the beaches are great, you can walk, shop and swim in their fabulous pools.  Someday I’d like to buy a second home near the beach in California so we can vacation there every year!

So basically I want a break from reality when I’m on vacation.  I don’t want to cook or clean or do laundry.  I don’t want to run errands or chauffer kids around.  And I definitely don’t want to freeze my ass off!  I want to relax and listen to the ocean and be outside as much as possible. But this isn’t always what my family sees in their perfect vacation.

My husband likes to get a lot of sleep and rest on the beach.  He enjoys swimming and trying new foods. Shopping and walking isn’t high on his list but thankfully he likes going somewhere warm.  My kids want to swim and eat in bed but they don’t like to walk or shop.  Growing up my dad never liked warm places or the beach.  He thinks Disney World is awful.  Too many people and too hot, he says. He’d rather travel through Europe or take an Alaskan cruise. New England is one of his favorite places. My mom loves renting a house, hanging out at the beach and eating out every night.  She wants to shop until you drop and explore new places.  This is obviously where I get my vacation tendencies from.

So what makes a perfect vacation for you?

Did your bad job launch or stunt your career?

Here’s a topic almost all of us can relate to: bad jobs. Most of us at some point in our lives have had a bad job or two or three. Looking back on them we can laugh (usually) and figure out how it made us stronger in some strange way. Let me share with you some of my gems and how they helped me.

Picture this, I’m a naïve college student who wants a summer job in the legal field. This internship entails a lot of administrative work: filing, answering phones, reviewing cases, etc. The exciting part of the job was when my boss would take me to the county jail and hearings in court. However, this was also the downside of things.

So here I am 19 years old and heading to the local lock up. I would’ve gotten off easy with just catcalls. I’ll let your imagination wander here for a second. My first solo interview in the jail was with a middle aged man who was accused of raping a young woman. Awkward! Despite my fears, the conversation went really well.

The craziest part of this job was the sexual harassment claim that I should’ve filed against one of the attorneys in the office. He would call me daily on one of the four phone lines that I answered and proposition me. That was the easiest part to handle. He brought his “A” game when he saw me in person. One time I was filing in a lower file cabinet and I was on my knees. He told me what I could do while I was down there.

After my legal experiences I decided against law school. No the internship didn’t turn me off; the work did. This decision saved me from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a career I didn’t want. But it did help me become a stronger person; one who can stand up to “bad guys” in jail and to a disgusting attorney who preys on young women.

So I dabbled with a few things and spent a lot of my time as a nanny. This made the sexual harassment situation seem like a joke. Kids and their parents can be nightmares. Speaking of nightmares, there was this child that spent half of his time in the bathroom cleaning his genitals in the sink. At first I thought it was because this child was clean. My family and friends told me otherwise. Other kids tried to pull a fast one on me. They would try to sneak candy or go to friends’ houses without telling me. Classic kid stuff. The parents are worse than the kids though. My favorite story was this highly educated dad who constantly did stupid things with his babies. For instance, he put his 1 year olds to bed with their birthday balloons tied around their waists. He also let his infant son roll off his lap into a body of water. Who does that?

Dealing with difficult kids and adults has taught me how to have patience and handle challenging situations. I discovered that if I could love children that weren’t even mine, I would cherish my own children and make a pretty good mother. I’m also one hell of a multi-tasker!

I have to say, these are mostly good stories. But there were a few doozies. Like the dirty office I worked in with mostly men who had horrible bathroom hygiene. Seriously, how do you get feces on the back of the toilet? Or the fact that my second child puked on me multiple times a day for almost a year due to her acid reflux. But all of these wild, dirty and painstaking jobs got me to where I am today. I found my career path in human resources and motherhood. I’m a hardworking, detail oriented, organized and determined person. I have a wonderful husband and two amazing children that I spend most of my time with enjoying life. I take pride in all that I do and am quite a perfectionist. Now, my family would tell you this is also what’s so annoying about me, but it’s brought me great success in life.

How have your past job experiences shaped your career?