Fostering peaceful and lasting childhood memories. Written by Rachel
When you think back to your childhood, what do you remember most? Is it the good times or the bad. The times that you went on vacation or just the simple times at home? Making memories with your children does not have to be complex. However you should try to keep in mind that childhood is when lasting memories form. If you want to give your child good memories of their childhood try to think back to your own:
Anger – One thing that can taint many childhood memories is anger. I remember my mother telling me about her childhood and the thing that stuck out to me most was how afraid she was. Her father had a very bad temper and was verbally abusive to her and her siblings. This affected her memories of childhood greatly. Even the good times are marred by bouts of irritation, impatience and angry words. As a mother she always tried to protect us from anger though she had many difficulties with it herself. Thankfully she had enough love for us, her children, to overcome her issues and become the parent she had always wanted. Shouting, hitting, and insults can greatly hurt a child, and even an adult child can be affected by a parent’s anger. If a parent has anger issues they should find ways to resolve this without letting it out on their children. Anger management classes and other techniques can be a great way for a parent to deal with anger issues before their child has a lifetime of bad memories from it. I am very thankful to my mother for keeping control of her temper as much as she did. I do not lose my temper with my children often and when I do I always channel it into something healthy instead of yelling at them.
Anxiousness – Also going back to my mother’s childhood her mother was a very anxious person. You could understand how that could be when living with an angry spouse, but it went beyond just that. The helicopter parent is not a new invention for this era. My grandmother would not allow my mother to go out with friends, to go to parties, to make her own decisions about clothing or style, or even to pick what chores she did around the house. As my mother grew older she rebelled and resented her mother’s anxious overprotectiveness. However in running away from it she did not get away from its effects. She went through her early adult years afraid of many things in life and that really held her back from enjoying her life. Making your children full of fear will not make them safer. In fact you will just be setting them up for a life of fear and pain. It is only by enabling your child to go into the world with confidence and the ability to cope and recognize truly dangerous situations that you actually succeed in making them safer. Unfortunately my mother did not recognize this aspect of her life as negative until her children started being fearful. Then it opened her eyes and she made an effort to teach us how to be more confident and less afraid of the world around us. I try to allow y children to take control of their lives as soon as they are able to do so. From picking out clothes to deciding on chores to paying the cashier and talking to the clerk at the pharmacy, everyday experiences can help your children to be confident and conscientious people.
Disrespect – Last in the list of bad is disrespect. When it comes to children I see two different kinds of parents. One kind treats children like they are not people. They drag them around, tell them to be quiet and generally do not interact with them beyond punishments or corrections. Then there are those parents who respect their children and treat them like people. They talk to them and tell them what they are doing and why they are doing it. They answer their questions happily and explain their reasoning. Even when they correct their child they offer solutions to prevent a problem in the future. As you can tell, my grandfather did not fall in the ‘good parent’ category. He put down his children and often said things like “your daughter” or “that child” in front of them. This created a situation in which his children did not respect themselves. They reacted to this lack of respect in different ways. One got angry and demanded respect from others with yelling and fighting. One decided to live a life free from any thought through addiction. Then the last, my mother, tried to win respect by being beautiful and fun to talk to. They all had unhealthy ways of finding respect in their lives. I try to make sure I always tell my children why I would like them to behave a certain way, like being quiet in a hospital, and try to help them draw connections to the world around them. Children can pick up on complex ideas at a very young age. All you have to do is take the time to respect them enough to explain how the world around them works and what the proper ways are to function in it.
Admitting Mistakes – One thing my mother was very good at was admitting her mistakes. She was constantly asking us for forgiveness when she had discovered she had messed up. This made a big impact on my life, especially as a teen. How can you stay angry with your parents when they admit they messed up? Asking for forgiveness is a great way to teach a child that parents are people too. Many children grow up with the idea that parents are perfect, so when a mistake happens it shatters their lives. Parents are just people trying to do their best. If you can admit your mistakes to your children and explain why you were wrong you are setting a good example for them to live up to their mistakes also. By teaching your children that you can make errors but still be successful you can help them not to be perfectionists or overly critical of themselves too. Although I do not admit to my mistakes as easily as my mother did, I still make sure I tell my children when I was wrong. For example if I hear the same question thirty times I will tend to get a bit snappy in my response. I always apologize right away and tell them I should have just stopped and explained that now was not the time for questions.
Taking Time – If you ask a child what they most want from their parents they will not say money or toys or things. They will say time. All kids want is their parents to pay attention to them. Play with your kids. Enjoy time together. Talk without the television or the phones out. Giving children your time is the best investment you can make. Every childhood memory I have starts with my parents taking time to be with me. Even if it was just a talk on the way to the store or a captured moment between chores it was still valuable time spent. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be ‘quality’. What matters is paying loving attention to your child without correcting or teaching. Just listening and talking to your children is a great way to form good memories. I remember that even though my mother worked she always made time to tell us a bedtime story with puppets, funny voices and the whole shebang. In my children’s lives I try to make sure I spend at least a few minutes several times a day listening to them. I will ask what game they are playing and have them explain it to me. Or I will talk to them about what they think about when they see clouds or the wind blowing. Simple things make the best memories sometimes.
Adaptability –The last thing on the good list is adaptability. This can mean a lot of things. Two of them re the ability of parents to change when things happen, and second is the ability to adapt to different children’s needs. The first is very important. Sometimes plans do not work out. For a child this is usually not a problem unless the parent makes it one. If you have planned a trip and you are running late don’t make it into a big deal. Parents often get caught up in schedules and plans and forget to live. There is more to life than being on time or getting all the dishes done. Live life and relax; your children will remember those times. Secondly every child is different. If you have more than one child you can’t treat them the same. While one may love cuddles and kisses the other may need more physical play like running and jumping. Where one needs to be reminded to pick up the toys the other may need to be told only once and resents the constant badgering. There are many different types of children and you need to be able to adapt to each child’s needs. It is not a one size fits all world. My mother constantly reminds us of this when she talks about getting us a car as teens. She got me a car when I came to driving age and I was very responsible with it. However my younger brother also got a car when he came of age and it was a very bad thing to do. He could not handle the freedom and it caused a lot of trouble. My children are also very different. One requires a lot of structure while the other enjoys more freedom. Although it is hard I have learned to set up a lot of activities for the first and let the other one play freely. Although sometimes it can cause arguments I have taught my children that I respect them as individuals and try to meet their needs. When they say things like “not fair” I ask them if fair should always mean the same? Of course not. Teaching children to take others into consideration by adapting to their needs is a great way to build understanding and thoughtfulness into a child’s life.
Childhood is a time of forming memories and thought patters that will last the rest of their lives. You want to make sure that your children have memories that build them up and make them better adults, not ones that tear them down and make them resentful and afraid. As parents we will always make mistakes, however we can still make our children’s memories something to cling to when it comes time for them to raise their own children.
Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.