Tell your kids that you love them all the time– especially when you are upset with them. Do it even when they mess up and you are mad at them. Do it when you don’t feel like it and you are too tired. In other words, do it all the time.
Give them lots of hugs– especially as they get older. Do it even when they don’t hug you back and feel embarrassed by it. Do it when they are mad, angry, sad, disappointed, frustrated and tell you that they don’t like you very much. Never stop giving hugs.
Don’t always give them what they want- Don’t be afraid to say no even if they beg, yell, scream, stomp, slam doors, and tell you that you are ruining their life. You are the adult; don’t be afraid to set limits. Please do give legitimate reasons when you set those limits. Please remember that stuff will never make them happy even when they think it will. Don’t let society decide for you what your kids need.
Spend lots of time with them- prioritize them even if it requires sacrifice on your career. This is not just for mothers who tend to do this more often. This applies to both mothers and fathers. Don’t be afraid to take a job that makes less money so you can spend more time with your family. When you are old and about to die, you will not regret it. Please remember that you can’t get to know your kids well if you don’t spend lots of time with them. You have a very small window to do this before they are out of the house. Your kids want to do things with you even when they get older. Plan time alone with each of your children if you have more than one child.
Teach them right from wrong- Don’t let someone else do it. It is your responsibility to guide them and to give them direction in their life. Don’t be afraid to go against the culture. Don’t assume that they won’t listen or care what you think. Be willing to have hard and tough conversations to explain some difficult subject matters. Remember that you are the adult and they are the kid. You do know more than them.
Understand your own imperfections and weaknesses- You are not perfect as a parent and you are going to mess up frequently. You need to be honest with yourself about your negative tendencies and habits. We all do and say many things out of selfishness and self-absorption on a daily basis. You need to own up to your short-comings. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge them to your kids and to ask for their forgiveness.
Provide a secure environment- They are going to make mistakes. Be careful with your comments and reactions when their performance falls short of your expectations. Don’t treat them based on their performance. Make sure your home is a safe place to be when they make poor decisions and mess up. Acknowledge your own mistakes readily.
Teach them to think- Help them to evaluate ideas and to think critically. Encourage them to not focus on being popular, but to pursue truth. Give them good books to read that will challenge them. Read with them. Discuss these books and ideas with them. This will require a time commitment on your part. It will force you to say no to many things- including many good things.
Mohab Hanna, M.D. is co-founder of Full Fathom Wellness. He is Board Certified in Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatry. He has been in full time clinical practice since 2002 during which he has treated thousands of patients. Dr. Hanna is the author of the book: Making the Connection: A Parent's Guide to Medication in AD/HD and Expert Review Series presents: ADHD medication rules every parent needs to know: a Special Report 2014 edition. Dr. Hanna completed his training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Hanna seeks to use an integrative approach to treatment. As a result, he seeks to help his patients pursue a healthy lifestyle that emphasizes wellness and prioritizes the right things in life. Over the last few years, he has introduced a variety of supplements to his treatment regimens with many patients to achieve optimal treatment. Dr. Hanna and his wife have three children and reside in Northern New Jersey.