If you can put up with a grandma’s musing, you might be interested in what I have to say. Many rules, many things, and many activities will not a good child create. It takes a love connection and rapport to do that. Sadly, there are parents who try to establish a connection with their children and fail. I pondered why this is, and it occurred to me it’s because we have forgotten our own childhoods. If our memories were better, perhaps we wouldn’t accidentally inflict the wounds that cause our children to clam up, the wounds that teach a child to keep his or her thoughts to themselves.

So, this aging woman thought about raising her own kidsmany years agoand wrote down ways to keep rapport alive with our precious little ones: 

1. Your child—whatever age—is not your confidant regarding your relationship with your spouse. Such poison destroys respect and trust for your spouse, and eventually for you. Never put your child in the position of choosing sides: not by word, tone of voice, or facial expression. This is vile and destroys the relationship your children needby necessitywith your spouse in order to have a future, happy marriage themselves.

2. Regarding their romances: recognize your child’s feelings as valid, whatever their age may be. Absolutely never mock the romances in any waythe joys or the hurts. Such teasing will teach them to stifle information from you in fear that it will be thrown back at them. Abstain from handing out romance advice. They’re entitled to make their own mistakes, not yours.

3. Absolutely never criticize your child in front of anyone outside of the immediate family. Diligently seek to keep all confrontations in private, otherwise lifelong bitterness will root that greatly outweighs the damage of the behavior that needed discipline. Compassion can encourage a child to change his or her way often far better than keeping every letter of the law.  A child who deeply loves and feels close to a parent is far less likely to do anything that would disappoint them and is far more likely to confide in them.

4. Young mother/young father, the day your first child was born was the day you mastered your self-control. No more door slamming, pouty faces or screaming. You have 18 years to teach a child self-control, but for you, the learning period has ended. You received your diploma the day your baby was born. Now, you will consider how what you do affects your new family. No more acting on a whim. Let me be the first to compliment you: you look great as a grown up! As long as you behave like a grown up, your child will feel safe to confide in you, but if you behave like a child, he might as well trust in his own peers. 

5. If you hold grudges against your parents, your in-laws, your siblings or their spouses, never, ever air such grievances in the presence of your children. These grievances aren’t their problems, and such gossip can only harm your child. No good thing comes from severing your child’s relationship with his/her kindred. But great good comes from having an extended family that can forgive and get along.

RELATED: 50 Questions To Ask Your Kids Instead Of Asking “How Was Your Day”

6. Be very careful: that same little child who appears to meekly accept ruthless behavior you hand out will, by age 16, rebel. You will look at this stranger, this bundle of anger, and think to yourself, “How can this be? He accepted our discipline so quietly.”  Discipline that is unreasonable and unfair is understood even by a young child for what it is: loveless. Repeated often enough, it will plant the seed for the day it can be fought against. Every human desperately needs respect, and not receiving it will one day be forced to demand it. 

7. Don’t make so many rules in your house that it is virtually impossible to make a move without breaking a rule. A child is, after all, a child. Don’t break his spirit by being a taskmaster. Simplify, simplify. Otherwise, your child may simply give up and believe he or she can’t be anything but a trouble-maker. Let home be a lighthearted place, not a prison. Every home must have rules but not pageful after pageful.  

8. Please remember your youth. Remember how vitally important physical appearance was during your teenage years? Please refrain from being judgmental, then, about your kids’ narcissism. Your understanding of this need in their lives gives the message to them that you’re not an old fuddy-duddy. In their minds, if you don’t understand this important issue, how can you be trusted to understand anything? If you encourage inner beauty when your child is little, that will prevail after the teen years without much more prompting. Children need our help to love themselves in this competitive society. Such help allows them to lose their self-consciousness and to reach out and love others. Defeated people rarely reach out or notice anyonethey’re too self-absorbed to care.

9. Please don’t blame principals or teachers for your parental inadequacies or your child’s lack of responsibility. Principals and teachers may stumble trying to fix a problem, but it is doubtful that they created it. You’re not fooling your child. They know you’re making excuses so they can be less than their potential. It doesn’t help real exchange to place a facade between your child and yourself.

10. Now we must discuss something very unloving that hurts so deeply, anyone with a conscience must seek to rectify it: a parent who loves one of their children more than another. It must be corrected, and if humans still have free will, it can be. Let me assure you such favoritism is not hidden from the rest of the family! It is wrong and causes enormous discord and resentment that builds walls separating people who would otherwise be close. 

11. Please do not compare your child to any other child. Keep your lips free from ever verbalizing such a thought, especially regarding a sibling. Comparison kills the spirit and lasts a lifetime, separating siblings who should naturally love each other but now cannot because of the wedge you’ve placed between them through comparison.

12. If your child is struggling to be a good child but failing a lot, be mighty sure you clearly acknowledge to that child that you know their desire to be good. Believe in your child’s highest motives and he/she will love you. If you expect them to fail, it will have a profound influence on them. Tell your child that they have good traits before they exhibit them. Who wouldn’t want to talk to a parent who believes in them so much?

13. Praise your children and encourage them but not to set the standard. Remember the play Death of A Salesman? In the play, the sons took to lying rather than disappoint their dad’s dreams for them.

14. A wife who presents her husband as a buffoon and a husband who presents his wife as a nag will soon lose the respect of their children. One does not consult with people one does not respect.

15. It is so important to teach children to verbalize the words “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.” These two phrases are the glue that holds together any long lasting relationships they will ever have, including the relationship they have with you.

16. When you speak to your child regarding wrong behavior, always begin with positives. Try things like as, “You are usually so patient and kind with your little sister that today, your actions surprised me.”

17. Make up stories with your child: you say one line and they the next. Listen very carefully to what they say, for what is in the heart overflows in the speech.

18. Never humiliate a child by sharing foolish things they’ve done or showing photos or videos they don’t want to be shown. “Do unto others as you want them to do to you” applies to little children too. Sharing stories with other parents changes its name to gossip when the children are old enough to care what’s being shared.

19. Children who have lots of aches and pains to tell you about when they’re really not physically ill often have one big ache in their hearts. Look for it.

20. Just because you welcome all children in your home doesn’t mean you welcome all behavior. It is your home. If something needs to be said to a youthful guest, it can be stated in such a way without finger-pointingleave the guest corrected, but with their dignity. It is so important to show respect for your children’s guests. Your children’s honor for you will grow and your children will likely hang out at your home with their friends. 

21. May your house be an open home where your children’s friends are welcome: a home where a variety of children gather will teach tolerance and love for all humanity. A home where friends are welcome will help your children learn social skills and how to live in close quarters with other people. Your children will love you for loving whom they love.

22. Never cut down your children’s friends or their parents. Regrettably, when you criticize your child’s friends, you are criticizing your child’s own judgment. Look for the good in each child that graces your home and hope other parents are doing that regarding your child. Your child can learn at a very young age to mix with all sorts of people but not copy bad behavior. In fact, your son or daughter should learn that when they’re young, or they’ll fall prey to anyone once they’re out on their own.

23. Parents should realize that children love their pets nearly as deeply as they love their parents. Ask any kindergarten teacher. Because of this, parents much show enormous kindness to all creatures. All handling of pets should be extremely gentle. It is extremely important to show your acceptance of all emotions your child has regarding their pets as valid. Share these emotions with them; it’s one of the first and best chances to establish rapport. Don’t lose this opportunity.

24. Notice if your child becomes crabby, but yet reins in his/her emotions and gets over it quickly. This is a wonderful thing! How many adults spoil a beautiful day because they hold onto a petty grudge? Reward your child’s maturity. How much easier it will be to communicate with an individual when you don’t have to check out their mood-temperature before you speak.

25. Parents, reach out to your children—do not wait for them to come to you. You are to be the emotionally mature one. You are to nourish them, not the other way around.

RELATED: The Bedtime Hoops: 4 Important Questions to Ask Your Kids Every Night

26. It is important you raise children who are “good,” children who obey you. I say this because children who are allowed to misbehave grow up being most critical of themselves. Children who lack self-control grow up to question the parents who refused to discipline them. Without proper discipline in a child’s life, there can be no establishment of rapport with a parent. In truth, there is no parent-child relationship. Who is doing the parenting?

27. If you don’t patiently and clearly teach your child to do a job, don’t expect it to be done right the first time. You must go through step-by-step what you expect of them. Don’t expect the job to be perfect the second time either. Maturity takes time. Praise whatever has been done well and wait until at least the second try to correct some oversight. Thus encouraged, your child will eventually do a beautiful job to please his/her loving parents. 

28. Not everything needs to be sugar-coated. If you do this, your child will eventually question everything you say. You simply must be truthful because moments are going to come up when your child must know that he can bank on your words for his own stability.

29. Dad, shake hands with any young boy or young man who visits your home for the first time. Given such dignity, they will behave like the gentleman you showed them you believe they are.

30. There are so many important things that need guidance in a child’s life that I hope you don’t get hung up on things like clothes or hairdos. Your demands that they meet your standards or appearance may be met, but at an awesome price: the cost of cutting off communication from you and the cost of real priorities being overlooked. Why lock horns with them over something superficial?

31. Do you hear that? The delightful sound of your children’s laughter in your yard? Get up, go out there! Throw the ball and play hide and seek. Now is the moment. Now is the day. Tomorrow they will be playing in someone else’s yard, and the next day they will be living somewhere else. Time is a fleeting thingask any parent sending their child off to college for the first time! 

32. In regards to children and electronic devices, we all know the obvious answer: limitations, oversight, and parental knowledge of fluid technology. How much we do the obvious will determine to a large degree how close we stay to our children.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Carol Fellin

As I near 80 years old, I look back at the years I raised children and the five decades I taught Sunday School to young children. I've learned invaluable lessons and want to give young parents incredibly important ideas to build strong relationships with their children. I've been published in The Milwaukee Journal, Reminisce Magazine, and The Oconomowoc Enterprise.

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