Passing the parenting baton — lessons learned

Janice Rubin
Janice Rubin

Welcome to the Collaborative Youth Team’s column, “Parenting Matters!” The Collaborative Youth Team is a partnership of 24 youth and family service organizations and agencies that are here to serve you. Each month, a different partner will offer practical tips for restoring balance within our families and for building resiliency in our youth. This month’s column is shared by Janice Rubin, the Collaborative Youth Team Faith Communities Liaison and Director of Family Life — Student Ministries at Good Shepherd Church, Naperville.

“The most important thing we can pass on to our children is a good example.” Have you ever pondered what your life is teaching your children? As I consider that actions so often speak louder than words, I think about how my own mom’s example is inspiring my thoughts about parenting. Today is her 80th birthday, and she has certainly given me a long-term view of being a parent. Here are my top five lessons from my mom. I hope as I pass them on to you, that I’ve also passed them on to my three adult children.

First, faith taught me to trust rather than worry. In spite of financial challenges, health issues (cancer, a stroke, and a brain tumor, to name a few), and my dad and sister passing away way too young, my memories are that of joy in the suffering. We didn’t dwell in sadness, but looked to trust that our lives are in the hands of a God who knows and cares.

Second, intergenerational relationships are positive ingredients for raising a family. Every week we gathered with several families to share a meal. Everyone was interested in each other’s lives whether it was the great-grandmas or the youngest children. When our children, especially teenagers, have the support of other adults and families, it helps them grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.

Third, attitude is a choice. Our thoughts influence our beliefs, our beliefs influence our actions, and our actions display our attitude. The joy in our lives depends on the lens with which we view our circumstances. Mom always saw things at least as a “cup half full” if not more.

Next, use discretion in giving opinions. Mom has always been the easiest house guest. She would explain that she only shares her opinion “if asked.” She didn’t comment on every way she disagreed with how we were raising our kids. I’ve learned to invest in helping my children to become critical thinkers and then to trust them to make their own decisions … and to learn their own lessons along the way.

Fifth, work is honorable. Growing up with both parents working afforded my sisters and me the opportunity to contribute at home. Having fun helping family friends with their projects taught me the joy of serving others. When youth are given opportunities to have useful roles, they feel empowered and their self-esteem and sense of responsibility increase.

This column is courtesy of KidsMatter, Collaborative Youth Team Facilitator. To access the Community Resource Guide and Partner contact information, visit KidsMatter2us.org and ParentsMatterToo.org.

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