There were so many life lessons my mother taught me, but I never appreciated them as a child or as a teenager. Once I became a mother 8 years ago, I developed an understanding and appreciation for the lessons I learned from her.
In this post, I discuss the lessons my mother taught me, why they’re so important and how they make me a better parent.
Lessons My Mother Taught Me
Let go of perfection
Perfection is impossible, yet so many people strive for perfection. Trying to get everything perfect is an unavoidable letdown, because perfection simply doesn’t exist. I’ve found that many moms strive for perfection, especially in today’s generation of parenting. To avoid the disappointment, let go of trying to have everything perfect. Here are some tips to let go of perfection:
My mother taught me to face consequences for poor choices I made or accept responsibility for mistakes I made. It’s not easy to do this, but it’s necessary to learn and grow from your experiences. When I learn and grow from what happened, it makes me become a better person and parent.
I once yelled at my daughter when I was having a particularly stressful day. Understandably, she didn’t receive it well and started crying. I could have easily said something like, “Well, I had a bad day and you should have listened to me.” In fact, I was extremely tempted to say that. However, I accepted responsibility for the mistake I made and apologized for yelling.
It’s okay to say no
Just say no! And I’m not talking about that campaign in the 1980’s, telling people to say no to drugs. What I’m talking about is that you end up becoming the go-to person for almost EVERYTHING, once you become a mother. You’re expected to run the household and be on top of everything.
In addition, you’re expected to be involved in your child’s school academics, activities, and events. If you work part-time or full-time while parenting, you have even more responsibilities. There’s only so much one person can do. Although I still struggle with this sometimes, my mother taught me that you need to say no sometimes and ask for help.
Once I became a mom, this lesson my mother taught me became very real. I had to say no to some things people asked of me. I also had to ask for help. There was just no way I could do everything without burning out.
Take off the “judge” hat
“Why would her mom let her wear that?” “Why did she give her kid a candy bar when she was throwing a tantrum? That’s such bad parenting.” In reality, everybody judges to some extent. But, my mom taught me not to judge mothers so easily and harshly. It’s easy to judge other mothers when you’re not a mother yourself OR you have different parenting values. It’s important to remember that a mother is not a bad parent if she has a different parenting style from you, as long as she’s not abusing or neglecting her child. As a result, I learned and try the best I can not to mom shame.
The best gifts are not always wrapped
Sometimes we think the best presents are a brand new bike or the newest video game that just came out. However, the best presents are not always wrapped with a shiny bow on top. When I look back on my childhood, some of the best gifts I got were experiences and memories that don’t break or get thrown away in the trash. Once, my mother surprised me when I got home to tell me my cousins and aunt from out of town were visiting for a week. We had the best time taking them to all the local spots and spending quality time together. The memory of my family was one of the best gifts my mom ever gave me.
Nowadays, I find that time is one of the most precious and scarce resources for parents. I try to spend as much time as I can with my child, but time and fatigue can often get in the way. As my daughter’s getting older, I’m trying to make a better effort in giving her the gift of a memory or experience that can always stay with her.
Here are some ideas you can try:
- Surprise your child with a play date with their best friend
- Bring your child to the local amusement park
- Go on a “treasure” hunt with your child
Pick your battles
It’s easy to nitpick everything that goes wrong in your household. My mother could have easily pointed out EVERY single little thing I was doing wrong. But, she knew better than this. She knew how important it was to pick your battles. Instead, my mother addressed issues that could be a real problem and we worked on those instead.
This made our relationship strong and solid. If she would have complained about every little thing (which could easily be 20+ things, depending on how negative or creative you are), our relationship would have easily been strained. For example, was it going to be the end of the world if I put away most of the dishes, but forgot to put away one fork? Pick your battles wisely.
Money doesn’t grow on trees
One of my favorite lessons my mother taught me was that money just doesn’t simply grow on trees. Money management is not really taught in schools, so it’s really up to the parents to teach their kids about responsible finances.
Me as a kid: “Mom, it’s just $10!”
My mother: “Oh, it’s ONLY $10, huh?”
When you’re not managing the household income and expenses, it’s really easy to take money for granted. Although I didn’t understand it at the time, my mother taught me that you need to work hard to earn money. You want to save, invest, and spend wisely. Once I became a mother, I began to utilize the financial skills she taught me. Now my daughter tells me, “Mom, it’s just $10!” I smile and tell her what my mom told me, “Oh, it’s ONLY $10, huh?”
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