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2019 Jan

Be Grateful

We can change the world in little ways, and now is the perfect time to start. Here's some inspiration to be better parents and raise better kids as we move into the new year. 

When we started Tidewater Family in 2013, I decided to call this column Take Five to remind parents to make time for themselves. I envisioned two moms—or dads—chatting over the back fence about their kids’ latest antics. Or parents sharing best practices in a cozy kitchen over steaming cups of coffee. It’s been my privilege and pleasure to share my own take on parenting with you for the past 5+ years. Thanks for being loyal readers and for being the fabulous parents and human beings you are.

Now as the New Year rolls in, I wonder what words of wisdom I can conjure up to inspire Tidewater Family readers to be better parents and raise better kids. What comes to mind first is to be grateful for what you have, especially your darling child. For you have created a miracle: a special being that lives and breathes and looks to you for love and guidance. You are so lucky to have your child, and your child is so fortunate that you are his or her parent. You were meant to be together. Remember to feel gratitude for this amazing parent-child bond you share.

Next, let’s remember to be kind. In this savage world where violence is on display everywhere from video games to the evening news, we may feel there’s not much we can do to change things. But there is. We can practice kindness everywhere we go and everywhere we turn. Smile at strangers. Let cars into your lane in busy traffic. Visit someone who’s lonely. Share your good fortune with those less fortunate.

And teach your child to be kind, first and foremost by being kind to them. I learned a long time ago that getting angry at kids isn’t an effective way to teach them to follow a better path. It takes practice, but you can control your anger and remind yourself that your child is just that, a child, and sometimes your child makes mistakes because he is learning. Don’t get angry at those mistakes. Teach your child that we can learn from our failures, and each one is a stepping stone to success.

Being more mindful is another goal we can set for the new year. Start by practicing mindfulness yourself. Stop and listen to the sounds of nature. Turn off electronics and write in a journal or make some art. Be in the moment. Your child will want to share these moments with you. Your own peaceful attitude will convey to your child. Practice enjoying simple pleasures with your child, like drawing, reading, cooking wholesome food, and walking in nature.

Lastly talk to your children. Talk about your own dreams and ask about theirs. Share your day with your child and listen to your child share hers. I know we are all addicted to our phones and computers, but our children are so much more precious than electronic devices. Be with them. Talk to them. Be grateful for them. And most of all be kind to them and everyone else you meet. We can change the world in little ways, and now is the perfect time to start.

Happy New Year!

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and co-publisher of Tidewater Family and Tidewater Women magazines. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com