After living for more than thirty years with people who are under eighteen years old, I would pass on a few simple but effective tips to new mothers:
1. Ignore the bad and praise the good.
2. Don’t get upset over messes; they happen every day, so just let disasters roll off.
3. Laugh—a lot—because a sense of humour and humility is crucial to sanity.
4. Don’t worry when kids say they’re bored; they soon will pick up a book or a pencil.
Now, if I could offer only one piece of advice to young mothers, I would begin by asking them, “Want to know how to avoid a temper tantrum?” There is a common image stuck in our brains of a screaming toddler throwing a tantrum on the floor of a grocery store. Even the best parent becomes a helpless victim in these situations because nobody is as miserable and disagreeable as a hungry and irritable baby or small child. This so-called temper tantrum is really a baby breakdown. Babies lack the tools to vent their frustration and anger.
Think what it’s like to be in a position of total submission to another person’s control, unable to meet your own needs. When I ignored the warning signs of my kids’ reaching their limit of endurance, I created either a clinging, whiny wimp or a screaming monster. By then, nothing I did or said seemed to help the situation. Putting our kids’ needs first is never self-sacrificing but rather a form of self-preservation.
Mothering taught me the most important Christian lesson; I am not the centre of the universe but God is. Almost important is the fact that when we give, we receive joy in abundance from the heart of the Father.
Copyright 2015, Melanie Jean Juneau
Image by Mary Cassatt, Mother and Child, 1897