Becoming a mom has been one of the craziest rollercoasters my life has put me on so far. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the oldest of seven kids, so raising children was not a practice with which I was unfamiliar. However, the rules of the game change pretty drastically when the little face staring back at you is your own child and not a sibling.
After I had my son and we had been moved up to my hospital room for the night, my family was visiting and meeting their new family member. I was a bit zoned out, just sitting in my bed and watching everything, when someone mentioned that a diaper change might be in order. It took me a good five seconds before I realized that was now my job. The mom that the baby would be handed to for said diaper change was ME. That was my first massive dose of reality as a new mom.
As my son has grown and developed his little personality, my husband and I are delving into the new world of “discipline.” Again, I’m definitely not used to being the one dishing out punishments and reprimands. Usually I was the one avoiding them. To this day, it still feels a little odd to me to be telling another human being how they should be living their life and making decisions!
As part of my parenting mind shift, I’ve realized over the past few weeks (as my son battles through yet another development leap) that these basic principles I’m introducing to him are more than just ways to keep me sane. I’m instilling in him common sense and foundational knowledge he will use for the rest of his life. (No pressure on me!)
It’s a bit mind blowing, going from being the child to being the parent. (I know, I know, I’m still technically someone’s child.) What began to push my mental comprehension to the edge lately is that in addition to raising someone’s someday spouse and parent, I’m also raising someone’s future co-worker and/or boss.
I’m a millennial. I’m used to reading about how different we are and how we’re shifting the work culture. I’m also used to having amazing leaders over me, telling me what to do and mentoring me through various situations. In short, I’m used to being the one being led. Now, not only am I keeping someone alive, I’m also (essentially) mentoring him to become the best human being he can be. The millennial is now the master. (Sorry, I had to.)
As I prepared to write this article, this verse kept running through my mind on a loop:
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 KJV
How can I give my child the strongest foundation? What can I do now to give him the best chance of succeeding later in life? Here’s what I’ve come up with:
Now: How to play well with others. Later: How to get along with co-workers.
This might not be THAT surprising, but many of the “playground etiquette” rules we were taught early in life still apply in our offices today. Share your toys (supplies/coffee creamer/ideas). Don’t fight (have self-restraint). Speak kindly to others (don’t be an office gossip/speak fairly/don’t discriminate). If your child learns to play nice on the swings, chances are he’ll play nice in the boardroom.
Now: Listening to authority. Later: Being a good employee (and leader).
Like most children, my son really struggles with “no.” He acts like I’ve dumped a bucket of stinging ants on him every time I have to tell him to not touch all of the delicate (and expensive) electronics. Truthfully, it pains my heart to tell him no and watch his little lip puff out and his eyes well up. Yet I know this is a concept he must come to terms with. Not everything in this world is free game. Rules and restrictions are in place for a reason, and those tasked with protecting them should be heeded. Someday, my son might be on the giving end of this scenario. My utmost prayer is that he is a firm but fair enforcer.
Now: Make the right decision. Later: Make the right decision.
This is probably the most terrifying part of being a parent: activating and nurturing your child’s moral compass. Teaching that adorable ball of destructive infectious energy how to do right, even when it appears to be the least appealing option. Since my son isn’t even really talking yet, I’ve not had to explore this territory too much. (The closest I’ve come is power outlets). Yet I understand the rewards of firm parenting when it comes to scruples and good judgment. Years from now, when my son is faced with the opportunity to pocket extra money on a deal, or asked to gloss over some aspects of a contract in order to get a signature, will my parenting have given him enough of a moral backbone to choose the right path, even if it means a less than desirable outcome?
So what has this millennial mom learned? That I still have so much learning left to do, but now is also my time to mold from scratch a member of the next generation. I have the opportunity to contribute to the workforce of the future, so I better make sure he masters “please” and “thank you.”
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