Parents: Know your mandate

Parents: Know your mandate

My daughter is not a particularly big fan of mine at the moment. Not. At. All. Because, well...because she's 12 1/2. Let's leave it at that.

When my husband and I were doing a post-bedtime postmortem of our rocky evening, I started to second guess a few of our decisions.

And then I stopped.

I remembered what football coach Lou Holtz often says in his motivation speeches: Know Your Mandate. When I thought about that, I felt really okay about my parenting decisions. They all served my mandate.

Here's what I believe my mandate is as a parent:

- Keep the child safe;

- Do what I can to keep the child healthy;

- Display love and affection for the child;

- Make sure the child is educated; and

- Teach the child to be respectful and responsible.

I feel pretty confident in saying that all of those fall under the umbrella of parenthood. I'm sure there are more, and everyone may see their mandate somewhat differently, but in the hierarchy of needs, these are at the top for me.

I also know what my mandate does not include:

- I am not my child's friend;

- I am not my child's sole entertainment committee; and

- I am not responsible for my child's happiness.

That last one may be the sticky wicket for the aforementioned tween this evening. It isn't easy for me, either, knowing that she's upset, but I remind myself that she alone is responsible for her happiness.

That's the thing about tweens and teens. They're capable of being responsible for themselves. Whether or not they choose to be, however, is a different story.

Making good choices often leads to greater happiness. That's a tough but hugely important lesson to learn. It's that learning process that can be painful for all involved.

Lou Holtz may not have meant to give parenting advice, but his recommendation is solid in all circumstances, even those involving upset tweens and teens.

Knowing what your mandate is, and what your ultimate goals are, make it easier to stay the course. Not easy, but easier.

I'd love to hear your perspective. What do you see as your mandate as a parent?

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Filed under: Parenting

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