The other night after a nice glass of wine, I did some online shopping. I know, sounds dangerous. My husband hates it when I do that, but that's what he gets for going out of town for work. So, I found the cutest little boots for my toddler. They are like Uggs without the insane price. I had to get them. I mean $11.99 for the cutest little boots you have ever seen?! Who could resist that? Other than my husband.
Of course that got me thinking about the fact that as parents, we all want to give our little ones the best of everything, whether it's adorable boots or organic milk. I belong to a mommy Facebook group and I get the biggest kick out of the banter back and forth about whether Johnson&Johnson soap is actually toxic and how long you should breast feed your baby for optimal health. I've heard moms preaching about not giving your children high fructose corn syrup, red dyes, and even those who insist children should avoid meat at all costs.
Every parent has the right to choose his/her own parenting style. I've said that before and I believe it with all my heart. They have the right to avoid certain foods and promote others. They have the right to use organic diapers, foods, and milks. They can dress them in name brands every day and they even have the right to choose how and where their children are schooled. Look, no judgement here on any of those things.
However, as a former middle school teacher of 9 years, I'm keenly aware of the fact that there will come a point in your child's life where they will not always be with you when important decisions are made. They will make their own choices. They will pick their own food for lunch or just trade with other kids at the table. They will eventually drink what they want and they will be put into situations where you can only hope and pray that they will make sometimes life-saving choices.
My point is, that we have to strive to engage in proactive parenting. Parenting with a purpose is a choice we make every day. It's a gift we give our children that cannot be bought in a store. It's not just about how we dress, feed or school them. Ultimately, all the cutest clothes, fanciest schools, and organic milk in the world will not make your child a good person and will not make them any more likely to make good decisions in their future. It must be our number one priority as parents to not focus solely on the physical things we give our children. But, to remember that the most important gift we will give them are things like love (sometimes tough love), a strong moral compass, a good work ethic, respect for others, and a solid role model.These things become instilled in your child and will be with them long after you are just a memory.
We have to be purposeful and proactive parents, not reactive parents. So next time you find yourself getting caught up in a heated debate about which brand of diaper wipes are safest on your baby's bum, check yourself. While that may be important to you for a few more months, don't forget about the things that will last a lifetime. Choose your battles now, but don't forget, it's your child that will make all the calls in the real world before you know it.
What do you strive to instill in your child(ren)? How do you practice proactive parenting?