I wrote down these parenting tips around 20 years ago, as little reminders to myself when my sons were quite young -- they are 28 and 25 years old now. Yet, these observations still feel as true to me today, as they did back then. I found them recently, on note paper neatly stacked in the corner of my nightstand drawer, and thought to share them with other parents, new and seasoned. May they help us mindfully embrace "the wonder years" in what we soon discover, is an all too fleeting time.
1. If a child is whining, it's not because the child is spoiled it's because he or she needs you.
2. People look at life and think of what they should become when they grow up, rather than discovering who they are and finding out how to make the most use of that.
3. It is easier to become soulful when you spend some time with nature. Take walks with your kids. They'll never forget it.
4. When your child is having a temper tantrum, rather than punishing, hug him or her instead.
5. If you tell your children how beautiful they are every day, by the time they're grown up they'll actually believe it.
6. Cuddle with your children as often as possible.
7. Above all, listen to your children.
8. Show considerable interest in your child's life.
9. When children show interest in a particular area, encourage them by praising their talent, even if that talent is questionable. Their subsequent growth in that area may astound you.
10. Live life with your children as an adventure.
11. Get excited about the little things. Nothing is mundane.
12. The truest happiness comes from giving.
13. Your children aren't possessions. They are people you get to spend time with.
14. Children are the wisest teachers.
Donna Rockwell, PsyD is a licensed clinical psychologist in New York City and Farmington Hills, Michigan. She is author of: Mindfulness as Therapy: How Buddhist psychology contributes to enhancing therapist efficacy and client outcomes, in The Changing Faces of Therapy: Evolving perspectives in clinical practice and assessment (Ron Valle, Ed., in press), San Francisco, CA: Argosy University.
Dr. Rockwell was trained in relationship play therapy by Humanistic child psychologist, Clark Moustakas, PhD.
Photo of parenting notes circa 1995-2000