As Mother’s Day arrives and we give thanks to our wonderful wives and mothers, I can’t help but think about the journey we all have taken as parents, and some of the lessons we’ve learned from our own parents.
Learning to parent is tricky business. By the time we know all the best tricks and tactics, our kids are grown and it’s too late to implement them. At that point, it often feels like younger parents aren’t much interested in our lessons learned; instead, understandably, they want to take their own journeys and come to their own conclusions about parenting. This seems to hold double for grandparents: despite their wealth of experience, for some reason we’re often reluctant to listen (sorry Mom!).
All that said, I think every parent has certain core lessons that we learned from our own parents. That is, we’ve taken a few core principles of parenting from the prior generation and have blended them into our own parenting styles.
So, for Mother’s Day, here are the top 3 parenting lessons I learned from my mother…
 “I Love You, No Matter What”. I never once questioned my parents’ love and devotion, and that’s particularly true for my mother. To me, she provided the best example in my life of what it means to love unconditionally, to accept us for who we are, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. It created a foundation of love in my life and offered a model of how to love my own kids.
I don’t want my own kids to ever forget or question my love for them, so I tell them every day. My daughter sometimes responds, “Dad, I already know that, you don’t have to tell me every day.” “Yes, I do, Sweetie, because I never want you to forget it.” They know that there’s no scenario where their mother or father would ever stop loving them, in part because we tell them over and over and show it by our actions.
 “I’m Sorry”. We all lose our tempers, from time to time, and say things we don’t mean, even to our kids. But it’s important that we say “I’m sorry” when we were wrong.
I remember countless examples of my mother and I getting into a fight or disagreement — and then my Mom would come downstairs to my room 15-20 minutes later to say, “I’m sorry. I love you. Let’s both try to be better.” It mattered so much to me that she was willing to do this. It sets a great example and precedent for moving past disagreements.
I often try the same with my own kids. We have a “clean slate” policy, which means we can apologize and wipe away our tempers, tears, and disagreements. We can start afresh after a fight without the weight of the past pulling us down. Acknowledging that we’re sorry, at least over what we can control, is often a necessary prerequisite to starting over.
 “Be a good person”. Lastly, my mother taught me the importance of trying to be a good person and do the right thing at all times. Let’s face it: none of us are perfect. But we’re all better off if we try to be good people as best we can. And to try to teach our own kids the importance of basic decency and goodness.
Being a good person seems like one area where we can have real influence over our children. Teaching them right from wrong, teaching them to think beyond “what’s in it for me?” For me, I trace my own basic decency and goodness back to my mother.
Each of our parenting styles is a blend of so many factors, but our own parents are often influential to that blend. The best lessons from my mother were about fostering love, responsibility, and goodness wherever possible. And I try to carry those lessons forward to the next generation, as best I can.
Thanks Mom! I love you.