Lessons from my Mom, Lessons to my Daughter
May 8th, 2012 | By Sharon Hurley Hall | Category: Family Matters, Relationships
By Sharon Hurley Hall –
We older parents do a lot of analyzing and reflecting on parenting – at least, that’s what I’ve found. Get a group of us together and we can spend hours talking about how we parent our children and agonizing over whether we’re doing it right. Are we as good mothers as our own moms were? There’s no easy answer to that, but in parenting my own daughter, I’ve found that many of the lessons my mom taught me still apply today (even if I don’t deliver them in exactly the same way).
Do As I Do
We’ve all heard the saying ‘do as I say not as I do’ – that doesn’t work in parenting. In fact, you have to model the behavior you want your kids to display. My mom was ace at doing this. For example, she had a strict rule that we were not allowed to read at the table. That was time for eating and, occasionally, conversation. The rule was never broken during my childhood, but as an adult, I was shocked one day to see her reading a book over breakfast. With an impish smile, she explained that she loved to read over a meal, but felt it was important to model the polite behavior she wanted us to have. I do the same with my daughter, even when it kills me to leave a juicy chapter half read.
Keep Your Promises
If ever there was a good life lesson, it’s that your word is your bond. Always keep your promises. My mom never willfully broke a promise to us and I knew I could rely on her implicitly if she ever said she would do something. I do the same thing with my daughter. A phrase often heard in my house is “I’m not going to promise until I know I can deliver”. (That works pretty well in business too, by the way). At the age of 9, she already knows that if I promise to do something, I’ll do it – and with this example I hope she will grow to be a woman of her word too.
Beware of Cutting Corners
My mom was a stickler for doing things right. Everything had to be just-so and there were no shortcuts to excellence. That was a good life lesson in itself. But she also knew when to look for more efficient ways of doing things. The lesson there was that they had to be better not simply easier and you had to come out with something equally good at the end of it. What I learned from that was to think creatively about making improvements and to assess whether changing the way we did things really made a difference. My daughter’s a creative thinker and we have many lively discussions on this issue.
Don’t Be Led Astray
My mother always seemed a pillar of rectitude, not in a boring way, but with a strong moral compass. She would come home and discuss an incident where someone was asking her to do something that conflicted with her sense of right and wrong. After weighing it up, she would say: ‘I really don’t feel I want to do that’ and that was the end of it.
I’m trying to teach my daughter to listen to that inner voice which lets you know when others are steering you down the wrong path. More than that, it’s essential to have the fortitude to stand up for your principles even when they don’t make you popular. I’m happy to say that she’s already shown proof that she’s learning that lesson well.
Remember to Play
Have you ever seen your parents with their childhood or college friends? It can be a revelation. The first time one of my mom’s university friends came calling, the two of them spent the evening giggling – and there wasn’t even a bottle of wine in sight. My mom has always been able to spot the humor in any situation and to be in touch with her inner child. When I was a girl, my sister and I would entice her to play our games, whether those happened to be doing jigsaw puzzles or dressing up dolls and she entered into them wholeheartedly. It’s something I do now with my own daughter (though probably not as often as she would like. Playing games with your kids keeps you young at heart even if your body sometimes begs for a rest (as mine did the other day when I was skipping with my daughter.)
These are just a few examples of the life lessons I learned from my mom that I’m passing on to the next generation. What are yours?
Sharon Hurley Hall has been writing professionally for almost 25 years, and she does it because she loves it. She is a word nerd, a Scrabble fiend, fanatical about grammar, and is fascinated by learning new things. Since 2005, Sharon has mentored other writers at Get Paid To Write Online to help them improve and build sustainable and successful writing careers. Sharon subscribes to the ‘fine wine’ theory of aging – getting older also means getting better! Find Sharon on her website, Twitter and Facebook.