The good news is that they are cute and little. The bad news is that you’re going to have to grow up.
The parenting books don’t tell you how to do that. But don’t sweat it. Here’s everything they left out, in ten simple points:
1. Feed Thyself
Always carry a snack. Not for the kids and for yourself. Hungry parents make lousy parents.
One piece of fruit or a rice cake with almond butter can do wonders for your parenting skills.
2. Grow Up
To be a parent, you need to become an adult. Who will teach you to be an adult? Your parents failed. Your teachers failed. Your manager failed. But your child can do it.
Your child, after all, made you a parent—just by being born. Pay real close attention and you’ll hear how he or she is trying to make you into an adult as well.
When the kids are bouncing off the walls, sit still and do nothing. Close your eyes, calm down and relax. Open your eyes, and all the kids have calmed down as well.
Okay, maybe they haven’t. But you’ll be in better condition to deal with the situation. Works better than chocolate (which you can now save for your voracious sweet tooth later.)
Your children are tuned into your thoughts. If you’re having problems with your kids, fix up your thoughts.
4. Be There For Them
When the teacher calls to complain that your kid is doing lousy and needs help with homework, take the kid out and play catch. He has enough enemies already. He needs a friend.
And when the principal calls you with that “I know you really don’t want to hear this” voice, explain that we’re both on the same side—the side of your kid. You are your child’s only advocate in the world.
By being on your child’s side, you become their most cherished and valued friend.
5. Listen Up
Good parents talk a lot to their kids. Great parents mostly listen. Especially to the ones that don’t say anything. They need the most listening to.
Everything you disliked about your parents, you ended up imitating. The same will happen with your kids. It’s an instinct. Maybe they’re not imitating you now, but in ten years, twenty years—at some point, they will, whether they like it or not.
So keep doing the good stuff, even when they don’t like it. And whatever you don’t want your child to do, don’t do it yourself.
Want your kids to speak politely? Speak politely to them. Don’t want them to yell? Don’t yell at them. Want them to be good people? Do good things.
Whatever it is—imagine what you want them to be, and act that way yourself.
And if you fail, admit your failure and make amends. They’ll imitate that too.
7. Show enjoyment, satisfaction and pride
Nachas is the Jewish word for enjoyment, satisfaction, and pride—all bundled together. If you like ice cream, the feeling of nachas is like your entire innards becoming one big vanilla fudge ice cream sundae.
If you want nachas for your kids, the best way to get it is by getting nachas from your kids.
That means letting slide the stupid little things that kids do, and getting a kick out of the cute, smart and beautiful little things they do. Let them see your smile.
For every “No!” there’s got to be at least five hugs, kisses, pats on the back, cheek-pinching and just plain, loving smiles. Kids thrive on your enjoyment of them.
8. Eat Food Together
Want a family? Eat food together.
Shut off the tv. Make a big deal of turning off your cell phone. Set a place where all devices will stay put for the half hour of dinner time. Including yours. No exceptions—nothing is more important than this time now.
Enjoy each other’s company. Be happy to be with your kids.
Each day, find some story or interesting fact to say at the table.
Never come to the dinner table exhausted. Be prepared. One of the best things you can do for your family is to take a nap before dinner or in the afternoon.
9. Bungee Ropes of Love
When your kids morph into interesting teenagers, hold tight to the bungee ropes. If they know you love them no matter what, they won’t want to do things that will hurt you. And if they do, eventually they’ll bounce back up. Those ropes you have created are like thick cords of love. They’re the only way to pull someone back.
10. Be Together
Make family trips. Squeeze into the car together. Take pictures.
Okay, so you won’t get out until 3 in the afternoon. Okay, you’ll spend more time packing, making sandwiches, loading the van, unpacking, etc., than you will spend having fun.
But you’ll be a family, the kids will have good memories, and when they have their own families, they’ll take you along on their own family trips.
But, nevertheless, make sure to have time to take out each child alone. Even if it’s just to run an errand, grab a kid—but just one kid—and throw him or her in the back seat. It’s just the two of you, and that’s what counts.
G‑d treats each of us as an only child. Our kids deserve the same.
Parenting is not a hobby, and children are not the collateral damage of marriage. These are people’s lives you are dealing with, a divine mission.
Besides, these are also the people who might one day sign you into some horrible retirement home—or, do things right, and they’ll make you the king and queen of the palace.
Basically, they’re the biggest investment you’ll make in life—the only one that’s for perpetuity.
Invest all you got. You’ll reap the dividends now, and when you need it the most; with grandchildren who think you’re the greatest grandparents in the world.
What greater wealth could there be? OH YES, YOUR HEALTH, OF COURSE!!!!
Dr. Diana Joy Ostroff has been practicing Naturopathic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine on Oahu since 1989. She was motivated into her career of choice by a desire and drive to heal herself. Realizing when she was a teenager that life could be so much richer if she felt amazingly healthy in mind, body and spirit, Dr. Joy began her quest for knowledge, skill, and mastery in 1978. Holding to a philosophy that we are able to heal our own bodies through elements found in nature guided, Dr. Joy decided to seek out the field of naturopathy. Sixteen years of additional study in pre-med and medical sciences as well as Naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Hawaiian healing arts and study abroad in Asia; plus 27 solid years of treating over 25,000 patients gives Dr. Joy the experience and credibility to make a deep and long lasting impact and impression on how her patients’ bodies work, and how they can work with greater efficiency and vitality.
In 1989 Dr. Joy founded the Center for Natural Healing Hawaii to focus on: • Optimal Health for the MIND, BODY, AND SOUL • Balanced Wellness For Mothers And Children – Holistic Pediatric Care • Restorative Health For Mothers • Emotional Well-Being – Freedom From Depression And Anxiety • Nutritional Health, Digestive Health – Freedom From Eating Disorders, Weight Gain, Cravings, And Bloating • Hormonal Balance – Freedom From PMS, Happiness After Menopause, Male Virility.
She is the author of the “Wisdom of Well-Being Book series” – “Your Health is in Your Hands”, “The Joy of Eating – for Kids and their Moms”, and “Get the Skinny on Getting Skinny”.
*Results may vary from person to person.
Dr. Diana Joy Ostroff
N.D., D.O.M., L.Ac.
5283 Kimokeo Street
Honolulu, HI 96821