Last month our four kids, now aged 20 to 34 years old, saved up their money and sent my husband and me on an insanely great cruise. It was our first vacation in 8 years. Since then I've had so many folks ask me what we did to make our kids turn out so well (kind of like it was a cookie reciepe). I kind of want to respond "Beats the hell out of me." But I try not to say that.
First, let me tell you, all four have had some monumential, historic and terrifying fails. They all screwed up in a big way, at some point, because they are human and that's what humans do.
The truth is, I don't have any idea why our kids are so wonderful, and they really are.. But Alex and I were talking and we came up with three, maybe four, specific things that might have had an influence. The truth is, I think God just had mercy and blessed us. But if these tips help with your kiddos I'm happy for you.
From the time they were two or three years old our platinum rule was always "A yes for a yes." It's so simple and common sense even a six year old can't argue with the logic.
Example: three year old child wants chocolate pudding. "Sure, it's a yes for a yes. After you pick up five toys and put them away, you can have pudding." The ball is in their court. Eleven year old wants me to drive them and a friend to a movie. "Sure, it's a yes for a yes. You take out all the trash and take a shower, I'll drive you guys to the movie." Sixteen year old wants to use the car. "You bet, it's a yes for a yes. You mow the grass, you can have the car keys."
2. From a very young age I took the kids to all kinds of events, I mean all kinds. Art galleries to rodeos, cage fights and boxing to Episcopal Church services, Demolotion Derbies to cassical concerts. My theory: it's their planet and I wanted them to be comfortable everywhere they went. I wanted them to hang out with all kinds of different folks, not just people like us. they learned to be comfortable in all kinds of settings and they learned that people are just people, no matter where they are so it's easy for them to talk to anybody.
3. We taught the kids, from the time they were 3 to shake hands with everyone, look them in the eye and say 'nice to meet you." Their hand shakes were solid, their eye contact direct. Black ministers, white waitresses, mayors, friends,the guy at the dog pound, it didn't matter. They shook hands with everyone and all four will tell you it's paid off in life The secret was shaking hands around the house all the time starting when they were two. Sounds weird I know but it became something so natural and easy for them. When I came home from work we shook hands then I gave them a big ol bear hug. venutally it became second nature.
I hope these ideas help you a little. Raising a child is like putting together a 1000 piece puzzle. There's no magic bullet and sometimes the whole puzzle gets dumped on the floor and you have to start over. But in the end, the results are magical.
Good luck and lots of love.