A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.
– Irish Proverb
A man shares a special bond with his mother. She is the first woman he loved and the one all other women are measured against. More importantly, mothers teach us many lessons about life.
My mom raised me as a single parent. Although it wasn’t easy, she managed to shepherd my sister and I through hard times. By watching her, I learned the importance of hard work, serving others, and staying connected with family.
Most of all she taught me the importance of being involved in my children’s lives. My mother always found time to attend school programs, take me to the library, play a game of dominoes, or give me a word of encouragement.
But my mom wasn’t the only one who taught her son valuable parenting lessons. I talked to a group of fathers who shared some parenting lessons they learned from their mothers.
My mom taught me to be patient when dealing with people, which led to how I deal with my daughter. She was never quick to fly off the handle…even though I gave her many reasons. Maybe a few times did she speak out of anger, but even then it was not detrimental to my psyche. I did some pretty bad things and her reactions were never condescending. However, she did acknowledge what I did and why it was wrong. And after such a scolding, she never left me wounded. She would always build me up to show me I was better than the mistake I made. So with that, today I am slow to anger, and I always make sure that I give more positive reinforcement even in my daughter’s wrong doing.
My mom taught me the importance of punctuality and always being on time, if not a tad early. After all, no one wants to be around people who don’t value their time. Sure she taught me this by CONSTANTLY being late to every game, practice and event I ever attended, but it benefited me in the long run.
My mother taught me many great lessons and some of them I still use today! For instance, did you know that a warm bath is also a great place to thaw out chicken for dinner? That’s a little something we call two birds with one dirt clod. Also, a soap dish doubles easily as an ashtray. The possibilities are endless.
But seriously, folks. My mom is a world-class worrier. If worrying was an Olympic event my mom would its Michael Phelps, which just made me picture my mother in a swimsuit and frankly, I didn’t need that. But she worries. I tend to lean that way as well, but less so. However, despite her worry my mother was a big fan of letting kids be kids. My childhood was full of forts in the living room, puddles in the backyard and views from treetops that went on forever. In hindsight I’m surprised my mom survived, but she did and that’s the lesson I’ve taken from her: Let the kids be kids. Let them get their hands dirty. They will try and they will fail. They will climb and they will fall. It’s nothing a bath and some love can’t fix. Their success will bring strength, happiness and a road paved from milestones. And somedays they’ll take your hand and skip upon it. I’m good with that.
The greatest thing I learned about parenting from my mother is to love unconditionally.
First the back story. My mother was a long time educator in the city of Memphis. And sometime during her long tenure as an educator, she and another educator she began her career with, entered into a bitter feud for reasons I still do not know. And when I entered high school, this other educator, her arch enemy, just happened to be the vice-principal. My mother considered sending me to another school because she did not want me to be harassed, but in the end she decided against it. Everything went fine for a season. The vice-principal, my mother’s nemesis, seemed to be always lurking around, waiting for me to slip up, but maybe I was just paranoid. However, the day finally came when I did make a mistake.
Nothing very big, mind you, just the impetuous actions of a school boy. But it was serious enough that I was suspended and my parents called. And throughout this whole thing, the vice-principal is strutting around grinning like the Cheshire cat.
Finally, we saw my mother entering the school through the floor to ceiling glass of the office. And the moment the vice-principal saw my mother enter the office, she strutted over to where I was sitting, and announced with great fanfare, “WHOSE FOOL IS THIS?”
I really felt bad for my mother. I felt bad because I could only imagine the embarrassment and humiliation I was causing her. But she strode right over to where I sat, put her hand on my shoulder, and announced right back, “THIS IS MY FOOL, AND I’LL BE TAKING HIM HOME WITH ME NOW!”.
I stood, and she kissed me on the cheek, put her arm around my shoulders, and we walked out leaving the vice-principal standing there looking quite dumbfounded. From that experience, I learned to love my children regardless of what they do or don’t do, what they are or are not. After all, even if they grow up to be complete and utter fools, they are nonetheless mine.
Aside from her nurturing warmth which was in direct contrast to my father’s results based parenting, one of THE most important things my mother ever taught me was something I don’t believe she was consciously trying to teach. It was something she said in passing nearly everyday of my young adult life.
“Boy, ain’t nobody thinking about you!”
As a teen I found this assertion offensive. Being a boy who sought attention and friendships, the last thing I wanted to hear was that I wasn’t important.
It finally clicked in adulthood that my mother was in essence telling me not to allow the thoughts and opinions of others or more importantly what I thought those thoughts and opinions might be to rule me. I needed to do what I needed to do no matter what. More times than not, no one is thinking about you at all.
This is a lesson I’m strive to instill in my children whenever possible and I seek to do so in a nurturing, encouraging way by assuring them to do their best regardless of what others may think or say.
My mom taught me the importance of helping out around the house. When I was a kid, my mom offered me a nickel to vacuum the carpet. I demanded a quarter. My mother gave me one of those “I’m disappointed in you look” and vacuumed the carpet herself. After that, I was willing vacuum the house weekly for free. I’m hoping to teach my kids the importance of helping around the house too. But it has been tough going so far. I have not mastered the “look.”
Question: What parenting lessons did your mother teach you?