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The Midlife Sage Says: How to Raise Amazing Children

My son works in law enforcement.

His job often requires him to enter homes where good parenting skills aren’t a priority. It’s difficult to prepare a nutritious family meal when the kitchen has been converted into a meth lab and the toddler is drinking from the dog’s bowl.

Fortunately for me, because of these horrible conditions my son now believes that I was Mother of the Year and that it wasn’t so bad when I served macaroni and leftover meatloaf for dinner during his formative years. He also understands why I was known as the Mother Bear of Centennial High School.

Yes, I was one of those mothers – the one who wanted to know her children’s friends, where they were going, and what time they would be home. My daughter still hasn’t forgiven me for panicking when she missed a high school curfew. I started calling everyone, including her school principal. She’ll understand in 10 years when her daughter is 15.

When my two children were teenagers, we had a large basement and I enjoyed inviting their friends over for pizza parties.

The peace of mind was worth the clutter, noise, expense, and assorted chaos. Years later, I often encounter some of those teens who are now productive young adults. They fondly recount stories about those times, and not one of them served time in jail, became a television evangelist, or built a meth lab. I’m happy about that.

In my humble opinion, there are three main ways to raise amazing children: First, love them – fiercely, totally, and unconditionally. Second, set an example by your words and actions. Don’t expect them to get academic scholarships if you haven’t read a book in 20 years. Third, get lucky. We all know good parents who have bad children, and vice versa.

I will never regret my decision to have children, and motherhood is an essential part of the woman I am. I have saved every Mother’s Day card and only recently discarded their 20-year-old baby teeth. I had saved them in little packets labeled with the dates of when they fell out. I also saved the last bottle of breast milk in the freezer for 22 years. Yes, I probably need counseling for that.

My adult children now have children of their own, and I’m amazed at how well they are doing as parents.

There is tremendous stress on young families today, and children grow up way too fast. My childhood was full of freedom – we played outside until dark, never wore a helmet, and our only telephone was attached to a wall back home. I worry about my grandchildren in our brave new world, but I know they’re in good hands and come from a strong foundation. And they don’t live too far from this devoted Grandmother Bear.

Elaine Ambrose is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.