11 September 2014

Mommy Reflections: How We've Raised Our Daughter to Not Only Be Good but to Do Good




If there's one thing I've learned over the last three years of being a parent it's that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I’m just being honest. I read all the books, took all the classes, listened to all the unwanted wanted advice, and watched all the parenting videos but let's be real - there is nothing that can prepare you for having your first child. It's a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions. Between the lack of sleep, adjusting to a new life and new normal, and learning about your child, it's easy to get caught up in the day to day hum-drum of life and forget our focus as parents. 

So while I admit that I’m still learning how to do this parenting gig right, there was one concept that I was certain of from the day that Chickie was born that I wanted her to understand: How to not only be good but to do good in this world. 

I believe this is a characteristic that starts early in childhood development and is either fostered to its full potential or thrown to the wayside by the parents as a child grows up to be an adult. I would say that from her sixth month on, Michael and I made it a point to begin instilling the ‘Not only be good but do good’ mentality to Chickie. It’s not a method that comes easy because it requires constant attention to our own actions, but it’s something that we work towards on a daily basis in getting her to understand good works.


Fast forward three years later, and I’d say our hard work is paying off. I see how attentive and caring she is with her friends at school. Just the other day I saw her rubbing the back of a classmate that was having a hard morning and asking, “Logan, you OK?” {Heart. Melt} I see how she does nice things around the house for us without asking and how she uses her manners to express herself and her needs. I see the kindness she expresses to strangers and the acute awareness she’s developed in recognizing that she’s not alone in the universe and that other people’s feelings and needs matter.

Now, don’t get me wrong. She can totally test my patience and my will. We have plenty of bad days, and there are times that I feel like the majority of my time is spent being the behavior police but overall, I think we’re on the right track. We expect a lot from Chickie which most parents would poo-poo for a three year old but I don’t understand why to be perfectly honest. I’ve always felt that our kids, even the babies and toddlers while they are still young, are people just like adults so why do we set such low expectations for them? I think that sometimes we shortchange our toddlers and pigeonhole them into a category of, “Well, she/he is only three. What can a three year old possibly learn about doing good??” 

My response? A lot.

I've come up with four ideas I think that fit the mold of teaching our children to not only be good but to do good as well. These are things that we’ve worked on each day since Chickie was a baby to make habit and routine in her life. They have proven to be beneficial in shaping the person that she’s becoming so I hope you find them helpful for your little one as well.


{ONE}
Catch my child being good and make sure she knows how proud I am of her.

When the days are long and crazy, it's easy to see the disruptive or negative behavior. I need to do a better job at seeing the positive behavior while letting Chickie know that I see and approve of her choices and decisions to do good throughout the day. Our children relish and crave our attention, adoration, and applause. They learn through our reactions to their behavior what doing good looks and feels like and they want to continue doing those things which feel good. It's a win-win for everyone, really.


{TWO}
Be the model for doing good.

Through a child's eye, everyone counts. Everyone is important - the sales person who is rude to me, the person who cuts me off in traffic, the neighbor who never picks up after their dog - each of these situations are opportunities to show our children how to treat others with kindness even when we feel it's hard to do. How I handle these types of situations sends a message that our children hold onto for a long time and remember. I can only hope that Maddy sees me as being kind?


{THREE}
Make sure that my words and actions are aligned with my values.

It's one thing to constantly say, "Share your toys with so and so. Share the slide. Be nice to Sally." But what do your actions say? Force your child to give up their seat on the swings if you see other children waiting - this is a perfect opportunity to show your child what it means to give and share. When another child falls down on the playground, have your child offer a helping hand. Our children may be too young at this point to truly understand the value of what they are doing but they will soon learn to associate kindness with helping others. 


{FOUR}
Teach them to do good and big things in their small world.

In our busy lives, I think it's easy to get caught up in the larger community service projects because they're highly publicized and well-defined. Sometimes it's harder to notice the smaller acts of good that can be, or are done, by our little ones. 

While our children are young, I think it's important to make doing good meaningful to them on a level that they can understand easily through small acts of kindness; sending thank you cards to family and friends for gifts, sharing their special or favorite toys with friends, being mommy or daddy's helper, saying "Please" and "Thank you", giving small gifts of appreciation to day care and school teachers. All of these small acts of kindness make big impressions on the hearts and minds of our little ones.

These are my thoughts on ways to raise a generous and kind child. What are your thoughts? What advice do you have to share with other parents looking to raise kind, thoughtful, and generous children?


Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.

28 comments:

  1. Oh the role modeling can be the hardest part of this! Especially when we get caught up in the day to day of it all. This is a great post! and I can just see Maddy asking her friend if he's ok. So sweet!

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    1. The role modeling is the hardest for me too. I'm sure it is for most people. I catch myself doing or saying things all the time but in the end, as long as we try, that's what's important.

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  2. Totally agree with Jenny ^. It is VERY humbling when I catch myself having a bad attitude and setting a poor example. And apologizing to your kid is never easy. But needed and it is a good lesson for them to see to.

    Great post.

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  3. Doing good is so important. Actions often speak louder than words - though we are adamant about using manners, being polite, respectful, and courteous.
    A few things we do, that may be a bit over Marcus' head now, but we hope he will take note include: weekly tithing at church, donating and volunteering for various organizations, and the one that particularly humbles me is when we are out and about and see homeless men and women. Instead of giving money we often provide a small meal or snack.

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    1. Those are GREAT things, Desiree!! Awesome list. We do the same with the homeless we find. It really does make a difference to our children. Hope you're having a great weekend!

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  4. I agree with Jenny. The role model thing is so hard for me! I can snap at him in a second. Always working on my patience.

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    1. Yes, me too. My patience has always been short, even before kids, so that takes a lot of work for me.

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  5. Hello =) I'm a new follower! And can I just say how much I love this post!!! I have 2 little girls. One is going to be 8 next week, and the other is 10 months old. My husband and I have worked so hard the last 8 years teaching our oldest to not only be good but to do good things. She makes me super proud because she has a heart of gold. She was just telling me yesterday how a friend of hers fell off the monkey bars at school. I asked her what she did when she saw this and she said she ran right over and asked her if she was ok. And then she told me that all the other kids just stood far away and watched as the friend cried. In instances like this, it makes me feel like I am raising her to be good and do good!! I can't wait to read more of your blog =)

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    1. Hi Johannah! Thanks so much for stopping by! :-) It sounds like you have some pretty awesome little ladies!!

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  6. I looooove this post! You are an amazing momma! 2 and 3 are my fave! Such a good reminder that teaching my example is huge! Mia is learning from my every action (and reaction) in every situation! I want to raise her with this same mentality!

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    1. Thank you, Courtney! And thanks for stopping by. Mia is such a sweetheart!

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  7. Spot on advice.
    I tell myself daily, I am Connor's example of good and right and polite so I have to be on point. He is watching and listening to me alllllll day. I have to be the best example of a good person with a kind heart and a loving mouth. Some days shit hits the fan and I'm none of those but that's okay. Tomorrow is a new day to be a better example.

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    1. Exactly! We get new days and new chances all the time. The important thing is that we try! XO

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  8. I've been meaning to read this one for days!!! Such a great post. I love it. It is perfect.

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  9. Very nice post! It's so great so see parents actually 'parenting' their children. Kids are a product of their environment, so, much love, time, attention and patience is necessary to raise thoughtful, kind, caring and giving children into adulthood. You're doing an awesome job!!

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    1. Thank you, Cathi. We are trying. We have our good and bad days like everyone but we do our best. Thanks for reading and stopping by!

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  10. What a great post! And I completely agree with you! BE THE GOOD. I stand by that statement so much. My son is 11 and I've tried so hard to raise him to be a respectful and kind young man. I think it's so important to praise our children, but also guide them in the right direction when they are doing wrong.

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    1. Thanks, Laurie and yes - open and honest communication is a must with raising kids. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read. I appreciate it. :)

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  11. Oh my goodness, I adore this post. We try to do the same for Mason. My MIL would get upset when we’d make Mason be polite and use manners at such a young age…but our thought was that if we didn’t teach him now he certainly wouldn’t do it later. Be the model = amen!!!

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    1. Thanks so much! My theory is that it's too late to parent effectively once they get past a certain age so it's imperative to do it NOW while they are young. My mother does the same thing. She will say, "Oh she doesn't have to say thank you. I know she appreciates it" and I always say, "No. It's unacceptable." Not to mention that my mother would have never even DREAMED of letting me just not use manners. They get soft in their old age, haha. Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. I love this post so much. The message at church last Sunday was "Fight the Good Fight". Basically the same message you wrote here. I needed to read this again.

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  13. What great tips! I'm going to have to share these with my husband too. Thanks for sharing. =)

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  14. Love love love!!! Kids are like sponges and they take in everything (verbal and non-verbal) from us and even when we think they aren't watching, they are. Marli has surprised me a few times (more and more now that she's a little older) with words or actions that she heard/saw me saying/doing and it astonishes me. Leading my example is always the best way and I also try to explain everything to her because I know she will eventually understand me. Great post!
    Linh
    http://abeautifulrawr.com

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  15. I love that you and your husband are so intent on putting in the work now and not waiting until teenage years to do it. So many parents just allow their children to "be who they are" and in 10 years are flabbergasted when they don't like what they see. We are very similar in our parenting techniques and get a bad rep for being too stringent or hard on our kids. We don't see it that way at all, we just want to raise good people and respectful people. I love this post! You're doing great!

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  16. I love this post! As I try to raise a girl that does good I know that mainly it all lies in what she sees us do. We try our hardest to show her good even at 9 months old we take her with us to feed the homeless and other ministries we are involved with. Eventually when she is older I would love to mission trips with her as well!

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  17. I love this post so much! I think as parents we all kind of just learn to do what we personally think is best. I love that you came up with those four steps and want to make sure that I aALWAYS do them as well.

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