When you're young and kid-free, everything seems easy. But after you become a parent, your world turns upside down, leaving you to realize that your mother and father may have been on to something. In fact, they were great parents, who dealt with all kinds of kid antics without losing their cool (well, most of the time). So now that you're the one in charge of a human being, it's time to reflect on your own parents' efforts and say a few important words.
To start, you might try these: Thank you.
Here are eight others to consider:
1. "I'm glad you said 'no.'" Every kid wants to stay up late, eat only spaghetti (and not the green beans), and watch TV until his eyes glaze over. But by setting limits, your parents kept you healthy and safe—and showed that they cared. Now, when your own child acts like she's been set on fire when you say 'no' to something (and you really want to cave ), you realize that standing firm is important.
2. "The reading really mattered." Nancy Drew, Judy Moody, Little House on the Prairie, and more. Rather than being quickly sent off to bed, your parents took the time to cozy up and help you learn. All those evenings of reading have likely made you into a book lover and you're passing this important skill and tradition on to your own kids.
3. "Your dinners rocked!" As you stand in the kitchen trying to spin the same ol' chicken dinner for your youngsters, it's high time you salute your mom. Wrangling kids while still putting something pretty tasty on the table nearly every night is a minor miracle. P.S.: You also shouldn't have ignored the repeated calls to the table and pushed those peas under the mashed potatoes...
4. "We actually liked the Saturday-night babysitter." Nursing a baby and keeping a preschooler from scaling the curtains all day is exasperating, so naturally mom and dad needed a night off. As they sailed away on their date night, the wails they heard behind them were not the result of some child torture program. The crying stopped instantly because the neighbor girl they hired played games, made funny faces, and let you braid her hair.
5. "You were right about that girl." Your dad said she wasn't being fair and that a real friend wouldn't treat people like that. But not listening is par for the course in childhood. So even though the advice you give your own child is likely being ignored, you'll just say it anyway (maybe it'll sink in down the road).
6. "I'm lucky you waited up." Other moms tucked into bed while their teens went off to a party or on a date. But yours was there, dozing on the couch, ready to hear whether the event was dull or the boy was a cad. And while you insisted you could take care of yourself, your mom wanted to be sure you got home safe. Your kid may not be there yet, but you'll probably do the same when she is...
7. "Aunt Ginny was a lot of fun." Kids don't often leap for joy at the prospect of driving to see relatives for the weekend. Moaning about wanting to be with friends instead and complaining that the ride is too long are just two of the ways your parents suffered. But family ties are important and they wanted you to have this bond. Because you got together with them at holidays and in summer, you're closer to your family now—and grateful.
8. "I'm sorry." Arguing, yelling, telling fibs, hitting your brother—the list goes on—and it's eerily similar to the life you're leading now! Why not text your mom and tell her she was a saint to put up with you? She knows this, of course, but she'll be happy you took the time to say it.