It’s not a secret that time marches on. Days turn into weeks, which turn into months, which turn into years. Before we know it several decades have passed, and the world looks nothing like it did “back then”. Gone are the days of front porch sitting, face to face conversations, and hanging clothes out to dry on the line. Or as my grandmother would have called them, the good old days. Mayberry seems to have all but disappeared, and in its place we are now surrounded by mayhem. Instead of sitting on the porch, we now sit behind the wheel of a car or in front of a myriad of screens. Face to face conversations have been replaced by Facebook, and while clothes are seldom hung to dry on a line, as a mom of four children, I must say, “Bless you, dryer.” And while I am a firm believer that there is nothing new under the sun, times HAVE changed. Yet our responsibility as mothers remains the same: to raise strong, respectful, hardworking members of society. A daunting task on the best of days.
How can we raise world changers amidst a world that feels as though it’s falling apart?
When unsure of how to move forward, I’ve often found it helpful to begin by looking back. So as any good 21st century mother would do, I polled Facebook and asked mothers who’ve gone before to help light our path. (Please note: the irony is not lost on me that I used Facebook to conduct my research about parenting in the past rather than having actual conversations.)
What do mothers with grown children think that mothers who are currently in the trenches should know? What parenting tips did they have for rising above the mayhem and bringing a bit of Mayberry back into the lives of those we love most?
Here is what they had to say:
Put the Screens Away
While technology has its place in both education and entertainment, it will never be a worthy substitute for imagination and play.
You have heard it said that the days are long, but the years are short. We have only 18 years with our babies at home, a span that will pass in the blink of an eye. Remember that time is one thing you can never get back.
We live in the era of the participation ribbon, but in real life, no work means no reward. Set your children up for success by teaching and modeling for them the concept of hard work.
Chores for the Win
If we want to live in a world filled with responsible adults, we must not grow weary in raising responsible children. Mothers are not maids. Children should not be paid for doing household chores. If you want to teach your children about the concept of money, find another way to do so. Do not rob them of the character building that completing chores creates.
Bring Back Respect
Children should be taught to stand when greeting someone, to look people in the eye while speaking, and to address their elders with proper titles.
Demand Direct Obedience
Obey all the way, right away, and then you are free to politely ask questions. Bribing children into obedience is never beneficial. Discipline should be swift! If you threaten a consequence you MUST follow through. Nothing makes kids feel insecure like the uncertainty of who is in charge.
Boredom is Sometimes Best
In the good old days, if children were bored they got to work! Now children expect to be entertained. Remember that less is more. I promise your children won’t die from boredom. In fact, it might help their imaginations to come alive!
Talking Brings Families Together
There is a huge disconnect in the family unit. Thanks to screens, families seldom even converse in the car, and dinner tables are used for folding laundry more than they’re used for sharing a meal and a piece of your day. Make it a point to spend more time talking to your family than sending texts on your phone.
Family Before Friends
See to it that siblings spend time together each day. Select sports or extracurricular activities that promote family togetherness rather than individual activities that pull your family apart. Your family will be close only if you make it a point to foster those relationships.
The good old days don’t have to be a thing of the past. Make the most of each moment you have with your children.
The future is counting on you.