We all make decisions daily, for better or worse, that will impact our kids. Sometimes, the choices we make even before we have kids will affect them. Our kids observe and learn from us constantly.
Granted, it can begin to feel like no matter what you do as a mom, someone somewhere is going to have something to say, be it positive or negative. Go through an airport x-ray machine while pregnant?! Get ready for an ear-full from your know-it-all seat neighbor! Breastfeed but sometimes supplement with formula? Awesome, but be careful, you may offend someone with your breast. Also, worry about not producing enough for your baby if you supplement! It’s confusing and exhausting. Mom-shaming is real and can make even the most capable and caring mamas feel inadequate.
Moms have it rough. Whether they decide to work outside of the home, work from home, or work as a full-time stay-at-home mom, it’s all-consuming and hard work. Since having my daughter I’ve done every combination and it is all difficult for different reasons.
We are all just doing our best. Below there are a few ways in which we may affect our kiddos, but it’s not to say if you do or don’t do these things you’re a better or worse mom. Knowledge is power and becoming more aware of how our interactions, attitudes, and habits affect our kids is crucial.
Earn a Degree
If you have a post-secondary degree your children are more likely to pursue higher education.
According to a 2014 study, children of teen moms who dropped out of school were also likely to not graduate from high school or college. Conversely, women who have college degrees, according to the Pew Research Center typically wait until they’re in their 30s to have babies, and those children, when grown, are more likely to attend college and complete a degree according to another study.
However attitudes are changing and with growing tuition costs, the prospect of crippling student debt, and a need for employees in vocational jobs, some families are contemplating less traditional routes for their children.
According to a survey by American Student Assistance, of those polled, “82% said they were comfortable with the idea of their children pursuing a vocational or technical program, but only 7% of parents even classified this type of education as college.” There are many routes kids can take to pursue their dreams, and pressuring them to follow in our footsteps usually isn’t the best way!
Work Outside of the Home
There are lots of reasons moms work outside of the home. Women may choose to work, or they may need a job for financial, mental health, or medical benefits.
According to a 2018 study, adult daughters of mothers who worked were more likely to be employed at higher salaries, work more hours, and be in supervisory roles as opposed to those whose moms didn’t work.
Adult sons of mothers who worked were more likely to be married to an employed woman and were more likely to engage in housework.
Fix Every Problem
It’s difficult to watch our kids struggle, but giving them the opportunity to work things out on their own is imperative. Giving young children a way to ask for help through sign language or vocally is also necessary.
However, mamas that swoop in and fix every problem at the first sign of trouble take away important moments for critical thinking and problem solving, which can have detrimental long-term effects on their kids. Research shows that college-aged children of helicopter parents or the lesser know lawnmower parents, “Reported significantly higher levels of depression and less satisfaction with life.”
Give kids space to make mistakes, learn, and grow from them. But let them know you’re there if they need you.
Read for Pleasure
We get it, reading for pleasure has taken a backseat to, oh, ya know life, and all of its responsibilities. However, a 2020 study shows a link between moms who read for pleasure and kids who in turn have higher reading comprehension and emotional intelligence. So if you’ve got a bookshelf with half-read or books-to-read-someday, grab one, slowly put the phone down, and read something instead of doom-scrolling!
Of course, reading with your children 20 minutes a day is also a great thing. Studies repeatedly show that exposing them to books at a young age at their level will give them a leg-up when they reach kindergarten. When you read 5 books a day with your kiddo, they will have heard over one million words! It’s beneficial to read with your child even after they can read to themselves. Reading together promotes listening skills, vocabulary skills, spelling, and reading comprehension skills.
The Western world’s obsession with diet culture, youthful glows, and eurocentric features can make young people feel immense pressure to look a certain way. Modeling positive self-talk and helping kids question media’s messages about being thin, young, and countering their idea of creepy filtered “pretty” images can be an uphill battle, but it’s one to fight.
According to the Mayo Clinic steps we can take to help our children cultivate self-esteem include keeping an open dialogue with them about the effects of puberty and media messages, monitoring Internet use, praising achievements, encouraging positive friendships, and setting a positive example.
We all have things we don’t particularly like about ourselves, but when our kids hear us complaining about our nose, weight, or pimply (and wrinkly) skin, they will likely internalize those as negative. So, when they look in the mirror and see the same nose that caused you to be so upset, the cycle will start all over again. We are beautiful, our kids are beautiful, and we should tell ourselves and them as much as possible.