The Internet is full of educated and intelligent people with lots of experience and knowledge related to parenting. There are countless books and blogs offering advice on everything from potty training to SAT taking. It’s wonderful. I can’t even tell you how many times one of my girls will ask me something and I’ll respond with, “Let me google that.” There’s no shame in my parenting game.
There are some things, however, that I feel are overlooked. Important things that my children need to know in order to function as productive citizens in the world. There are people who don’t know these things walking amongst us and, frankly, it’s terrifying.
Here are five things I am insisting that my children learn and implement before leaving my home.
- For crying out loud, learn how to merge! I don’t care if it’s on the interstate or in a drive-thru, learning this early in life will serve you well. If you are the one merging then you should, well, merge. You do not stop and hope somebody will allow you the honor of driving on the same road as them. At some point, you will be in a position where someone else needs to merge. Pay close attention because this is where it gets tricky. You let them merge! You don’t speed up, give them the stink eye, or blow your horn.
- What can I do to help? Whether it’s helping a sibling with a chore, a grandparent with a project, or me in the kitchen, my children are taught to always ask one question. Seriously, they probably say it in their sleep. What can I do to help? Is someone working on something and your hands are idle? What can I do to help? Does someone look overwhelmed? What can I do to help? Is company coming and mama is running around like a crazy woman? What can I do to help? I could, of course, give them specific tasks to perform. But I want them to recognize a need and have a desire to be a part of the solution.
- Don’t be that person. This is another one that my children hear pretty much all of the time. Apart from love Jesus and always sleep in a bra during a nighttime storm in case the roof comes off your house and you have to run for your life, the instruction they hear most is: don’t be that person. When the light turns green and, before I can even blink, the guy behind me blows his horn – don’t be that person. When I’m standing in the crosswalk with five children and a buggy full of groceries and a car refuses to stop and let me cross – don’t be that person. When someone is unkind, ungracious or impatient – don’t be that person. When someone is selfish, greedy or unforgiving – don’t be that person. Trust me, if you implement this one, you’ll find PLENTY of opportunities to use it.
- Never miss an opportunity to use the restroom. There really isn’t much need to expound on this one. Stopping somewhere for coffee? Use the restroom. Leaving work and heading home? Use the restroom. In a waiting room somewhere? Use the restroom. Of all the potential regrets in life, one of the worst is: I wish I had used the restroom back there. Teach them while they’re young my friends. Don’t let it be your kid peeing on the side of the road during a traffic jam.
- Hang out with senior adults every chance you get. Seniors have been there, done that, and already forgot about it. They’re a wealth of wisdom and encouragement. They are proof that this too really shall pass and that there is life after whatever trial you are currently facing. Whatever you are struggling with, there is an older person who has been through it already. They have more patience with your children than you do and they lack all of the drama you find on Facebook. They are comfortable in their own skin. They are one of God’s most unrecognized blessings. They are a safe place. If you don’t, at every stage of life, have a friend significantly older than you – you are just missing out.
Happy parenting, folks. You are loved. <3