I'm a mama, so naturally I spend a significant amount of time thinking about how to raise decent human beings who others would want to hang out with (now and when they're older). Parenting is not for the weak, and these kids are serious about making you earn a respectable name for yourself, even if they are the only ones who know that name.
As parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and caretakers, our goal should be simple: raise a child that is loved, confident, strong, happy, and healthy. This creates balance, and everyone needs balance. It's the single thing that will keep a person more productive and less stressed. In my opinion, that's what will also make someone successful, but there's this fine line we have to be aware of.
Most parents have experienced the fine line between making your kid aware of their surroundings, their body, and their emotions and totally screwing them up for life. For example, I will remind my toddler not to stand on a neighbor's doorstep for 5 minutes "waiting" after she's been told they cannot play. I cannot be affected if she cries out, "...but who's gonna play with me??" Her question is not real, she will not need therapy when she's older, and she just might understand social boundaries and cues in the future because of this. Hopefully, fingers crossed.
We need to be less worried about hurting our kids' feelings now and more worried about their overall outcome in a few years. Kids are so resilient and they have a 2-second bounce back rate, so please feel free to use any teachable moment to reach your child. What you teach and model for them now (whether positive or negative) will come back and either bless you or bite you in the butt later. Knowing our kids are watching us is intimidating at times because we are creating their "normal," and it's imperative that we find a balance to model for them, so they will be comfortable adopting those ways in the future.
I want my kids to know it's normal to date your spouse. I confess, this is something my husband and I are weak in, but it's one of my goals this year to be better about planning dates because it's so important to connect (especially after having kids)! If our kids don't see us doing that, it won't be something they think is important or worthwhile when they're older.
I want my daughter to know she is beautiful inside and out, but if I accidently compliment her on her tan skin, blond hair, or gorgeous face (I'm not bias, I swear), am I creating a little girl who focuses on looks??
Deep breath. The answer is no.
No because that's not the only thing I am complimenting her on or talking to her about. I also ask her to show me her muscles (to which she throws her arms in the air and "clinches her teeth and grrrrs"). I ask her what she loves. I ask her what her tummy is telling her (to make her aware if she's hungry or full). I tell her I appreciate how she is loving on or concerned for a friend when she goes and checks on a little person that is crying. I encourage her to jump or climb when she's feeling anxious or afraid to do so, and I remind her she's done it before and can do it again. I talk her to about food being her energy and eating a good amount of food that God gave us to eat. I give her dessert that she helped me make! I let her teach me how to do things that she does really well.
I also totally fail on a daily basis, and I know I'm screwing her up on some level, but I just pray at night to fix that. It's something like this: Lord, please undo any mom fails I had today. You're the ultimate, thank you for giving me a chance to help raise this particular nugget, but seriously, you need to have a bigger impact than me. Thank you! Amen.
It's about balance. Balance with food, with compliments, with discipline, with time. The only thing you don't need to try to balance is love. You can't give enough love. If you can figure out how to do everything out of a state of genuine love, and it's received with love, you're doing it ALL right.