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  • Writer's pictureMary O'Connor

Parenting One Day at a Time

As a single parent, you may sometimes feel like you are climbing a large mountain and will never see the top. A parent with a sense of humor put a sign on her children's doors. Checkout time: 18 years. It is a funny but sad reminder that we don't have our children that many years in the home compared to a lifetime of being their parent. These relationships we have with our children are preparing them for the 18 to 98 years time period. You are there to ensure they are getting that important foundation they need to develop into responsible adults. We aren't there to get love or to be their best friend. That's the hard part of parenting, to hear them say, "I don't love you anymore! You are mean!" when you tell them to pick up their toys.

As a parent you worry a lot about your child's future and how you measure up as the caretaker of this precious cargo. If you get up in the morning, oversee your child's way off to school, make sure they are fed and learning by checking on their homework, respect their teachers and other mentors, read to them or have them read to you, laugh with them at least once a day, give them encourage and compliments (yes children love compliments) make sure they go to the doctor and dentist for check ups, and set the groundwork for a spiritual compass. You are going good. If you sincerely want your child to learn how to be kind and loving and generous, then you are doing the right things. Don't worry about what college they will get into, especially if they are in the first grade!

Communication is a two way street. It is not just asking questions of our children and getting the right answer, but listening to their stories (however long they may be) and staying connected to them by being attentive to their joys and challenges. My favorite question as my kids got older was "What do you think you should do about that?" As we teach our children to develop their own inner wise person, teach them gratitude, equanimity, and patience with themselves they will find answers and gradually let go of an outer source of reference that they may rebel against if it sounds too strict and scary

Each day is a new start and children are the most forgiving creatures I have seen. They don't hold grudges unless you teach them to; they are more here-and-now type of people. Playing games with kids and taking walks with them helps fill that hole inside for companionship and attention. That's so little to ask for these miracles who didn't even ask to be born!

When you let go of their past mistakes you give them permission to be easier on themselves. Yesterday is gone and the future isn't here yet, so let's enjoy today.

One day at a time is so much easier on your mental health. I hope you plan to have a day with a positive outlook.

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