- When your child shares about their day, LISTEN. Even if you have to bite your tongue. I’ve learned a lot about my children from listening to them and not reacting. I also listened to their friends, who seemed quite willing to share “funny” stories that my children were involved in. Don’t judge; don’t react. Just listen. If you must put your two cents in, wait until they are finished. Start with something neutral. Hmmm…interesting. How do you feel about that?
- When your children come to you with a sticky situation, ask, “Is this something you can handle on your own or do you need my help?” Let them vent, talk, process with you. Ask them how they think it should be handled. And then ask if they can handle it on their own. You’re giving them the skills to navigate the world on their own, knowing they are supported by you if they need you. You’re also giving them belief in their ability to deal with their own situations.
- Say, “yes” to your children as often as possible. This doesn’t mean spoil them and give them everything they want. It means replacing, “We can’t afford that.” with, “Maybe.” “Let’s make a plan.” Or “Let’s see how you can earn that!” When my son was 7 he wanted a go-kart. We put a chart on the fridge. I told him if he earned half we would pay for the rest. He did little things around the house, saved money from birthdays and he earned his half. We were on a tight budget, but we never said we couldn’t afford it. There’s always a way.
- Believe that anything is possible …if you want it bad enough and are willing to work hard enough to get it. I didn’t want to limit my children. I’ve seen people with very little money find ways of traveling overseas. A female President? Sure, why not?
Our family took a vacation every year on a shoestring. We went to Disney world, Dollywood, Cherokee, the shore. I was committed to giving my children wonderful experiences even though we weren’t rich. They had dance lessons and beautiful clothes (from consignment shops!) I believed in them and they believe in themselves.
- Family First. Not friends; not baseball games, not work. Parties out of town? We figured it out. We fit in family time on Friday evening. We ate together most evenings. My children were running in many directions – one was in theatre, another in sports. But since my priority was family, we found a way.
By Angela DiCicco