It’s NOT about luck

This past week, our family vacationed in Hawaii. I’ve been taking my kids there since they were little and I’m sure it’s part of their core memories, as most family rituals become. We’re a friendly crew and as we waited on the beach we began chatting with another family. My children, at 17 & 19, introduce themselves, shake hands with parents, and engage in easy conversation. I always watch with pleasure as they can engage with people of any age with grace and respect. As we were talking about our kids with pride, exchanging information about our activities, schedules, and commiserating about the common struggles of parenting, one of the other parents commented, “Aren’t we so lucky?” I know her intention was positive and that what she meant was, given all the things that kids could get into trouble with, struggle over, and confront, we’re lucky that our kids, almost adults, are good people that we’re proud of. I remarked, “It’s not luck.” 

Friends – hear me loud and clear – parenting is not about luck. Parenting is intentional. Parenting is tough. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s about confronting past demons, making decisions about time, expense, sacrifices, energy, and resources. The exchange is tremendous. There are no two people that fill my heart with such joy. But raising them was not about luck, or #blessings, or following a prescriptive parenting book. Mostly, parenting is about soul searching. It’s deciding what you want to take from the way you were parented and what you want to leave behind. It’s often about shattering generational trauma. Parenting is deciding what you want to model for safety, love, and relationships. I later said to this mom, “There are a LOT of right ways to parent great kids. But there are definite wrong ways. Ways that will surely damage and harm children.” If you didn’t read last week’s newsletter on resilience & parenting – check it out here. In the meantime, here are 5 factors I’ve been VERY intentional about in raising my children. Two humans who I am immensely proud of. Two imperfect people who’ve had their own struggles. But two people, who, at the end of the day, are humans I want to be friends with now that they’re becoming adults. They’re genuinely good people. 

  • I love them unconditionally. There is NOTHING they could do that I would stop loving them. They make mistakes, they’re imperfect, and there are times I completely disagree with the decisions they make; but there is nothing that would make me love them less. 

You could stop here. If you’re not doing this already with your children, change this factor now. So many of you did not grow up with unconditional love. You can break generational trauma by showing your kids unconditional love today and always

  • I am the bottom line. Loving my kids unconditionally does NOT mean there are no consequences in life. But the consequence is NEVER my love or our relationship. When my kids make mistakes, which they do and will continue to, I allow them to face natural consequences. You’ve hurt someone? You apologize. You steal? You repay. You miss a deadline or a class or practice? You face the music with the adult in charge. And if you’re not certain where the line is, I’ll show you. I am firm. I am fair. But I am the bottom line and my kids know this. 
  • If we sign up, we show up. This has been such a huge life lesson for my kids. Follow through. My husband and I model it in every way we can and we work hard! If my kids sign up for a lesson, a sport, an outing, or any other commitment, we DO NOT QUIT. This is so critical for children to see – other people depend on you to show up. 
  • They have jobs. I don’t entertain the idea that school is kids’ work – so we may disagree here. I’ve worked since I was able to babysit at age 12. My husband began bailing hay at about the same age. So, no matter how much money we make, our kids have jobs. Part time during sports and the school year and mostly full time in the summer. My kids have paid for their own gas and expenses (think Dutch Bros and movies) for years. It’s important to show them financial integrity and responsibility. I don’t want them to be nervous about money, but I do want them to respect it. If your kids are 3 or 5 or 7 years old, start now. Give them small jobs & chores around the house. They’ll grow an appreciation for contribution. 
  • We are the safety net. Because my kids know that our love is unconditional, they call us when they’re in trouble, hurt, scared, or confused. We talk it through. We talk it out. We have HARD, DISAGREEABLE, DIFFICULT conversations, but we have them often. It started when they were little about seemingly small things; but I’m so grateful, because now, when we talk about smoking pot, driving cars, hating jobs, struggling with friends, with sex, with relationships, with US, they know that we can always talk it out. We will always be there for them.

I could go on and on…these are not my TOP 5, they are simply the first five that came to me when I thought about intentional decisions I’ve made as a mom. 

Oh, one bonus? One that I’ve had to really practice given my own childhood experiences? We play! We play hard, laugh, and enjoy each other immensely! 

Tell me, what are yours? What are the intentional ways you’re parenting?

Want more? Subscribe for weekly insights from Dr. Amy here!