I worry a lot.
My husband is always telling me, “Stop worrying.” But then I worry about worrying.
It’s very worrisome.
My biggest worry is probably the same as most parents out there: my children. What they’re eating? What they’re watching? How much they’re eating? How much they’re watching? Are they learning enough at home? Are they learning enough at school? Do they have friends? Do they feel loved?
And for crying out loud, are they ever going to stop picking their noses?
As I’ve sat and thought (and worried) about who and what is influencing my boys, I came across an interesting article from Forbes titled “7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors that Keep Children from Growing into Leaders.”
And, of course, I panicked because more than likely, I’m hindering them in some way. But as I read through the article, I found that even though I can most definitely improve on some behaviors, I have been well prepared to face the difficulties of modern parenting because of the love and instruction I received as a child.
According to Forbes contributor Kathy Caprino, one of the behaviors to watch out for is "rescu(ing) too quickly."
I remember playing outside for hours and hours as a child. I always think my kids will get bored if I don’t have every second of every day planned, but when I think back on my childhood, most of my “free time” was play time.
In elementary school, we had huge trees that grew up on the field behind our school. Every recess in early autumn and spring was spent up in those trees. We used to pretend we were falling and have one of the girls run and get a boy to “rescue” us. We would climb up to the highest branch, swing our legs over and hang over the edge.
That was probably pretty dangerous.
But we grew confident in our abilities and didn’t really think about falling. After all, even if we did, there was a very strong and capable fourth-grader waiting at the bottom with open arms.
I have often thought about my boys climbing trees and how nervous I’d be if I saw them do what I did. But I also think of the adventure and boost of self-confidence and assuredness that came from something as simple as climbing a tree.
I don’t think it’s allowed at my old school anymore. And while I understand the practical and legal reasons, I think it’s a bit of a shame. Is over protecting worse than a broken arm? Hmm.
Another hindering behavior, according to Caprino, is that "we rave too easily."
I heard this before I had kids and thought it was ridiculous. How is it possible to praise a child too much?
My boys have recently become little artists and are at their craft table drawing pictures all day long. A few days ago, both drew pictures and brought them to me. My oldest drew a picture of Thomas the Train rushing down the hill with wind in front of him, his wheels clattering down the tracks complete with grass growing underneath and the word “HELP” bubbling out of his smoke stack.
I was super impressed and hung the drawing on the fridge.
Then my 3-year-old brought me a picture of, well, what looked like a snake.
“Beckham!” I exclaimed. “That’s wonderful! That looks so good. What is it?”
He looked at me, then looked at the picture. “Um, it’s a river.”
“Wow! Look at that river!” I grabbed it and hung it up, too.
And I couldn’t help but notice the look he gave me. It was almost to say, “Yeah right, mom. It’s just some squiggly lines. Why are you freaking out?”
“Kids eventually observe that Mom and Dad are the only ones who think they’re awesome when no one else is saying it. They begin to doubt the objectivity of their parents; it feels good in the moment, but it’s not connected to reality,” writes Caprino.
But I want my children to feel like their efforts are appreciated.
A few days later, my 3-year-old brought me another picture.
“What is this?” I asked again.
“It’s a ducky, it’s a ducky, it’s a ducky!” he sang. He seemed very proud of himself.
“It is a ducky!” I said and smiled. “You drew a ducky. That looks great!”
This time, he smiled big and got out some tape to hang it up on our fridge, which is now completely covered in drawings.
His reaction to my reaction was what surprised me the most. Genuine compliments are more accepted than sugar-coated praise.
In his recent acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, actor Matthew McConaughey said his mother strongly encouraged adventure and hard work.
“If it was daylight, you had to be outside playing, and we’d go, ‘Why, mom?’ and she’d say, ‘Don’t watch somebody on TV do it for you, go out and do it for yourself.’ ” Because of her encouragement and support, McConaughey’s mother was a positive influence in her son’s life.
“Because we’re not the only influence on our kids, we must be the best influence,” Caprino writes.
The best influence. That's a lot of responsibility.
Dr. Time Elmore, author of “Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future,” “Artificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenges of Becoming Authentic Adults” and “Habitudes,” shares:
“It’s important for parents to become exceedingly self-aware of their words and actions when interacting with their children, or with others when their children are nearby. Care enough to train them, not merely treat them to a good life. Coach them, more than coddle."
Part of taking the worrying out of living is the knowledge that you’re continually striving to do your best and teach correct principles by training and coaching and then allowing your kids to fall, fail and find themselves. That, I think, is the toughest, most crucial part.
If I’ve learned one thing during these five years of mommyhood, it’s that most of us are just trying to do our best and most of the time, things work out. When knowledge is sought after, answers are found.
And sometimes, calling your son out in front of his friends will make him think twice about picking his nose.
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.