Growing up, my little love, now RN (Register Nurse) and President of her graduating college class who delivered the best commencement speech ever – Macy Elizabeth always exhibited compassion and goodwill. Setting a good example is half of the battle but there’s another half to be fought. As you can imagine, I am beyond proud to know that I got it (parenting) at least partially right!
Trust me, there were many things in parenting that I am and was a total failure at. Today, I feel like many parents take the easy way out because of the lack of time they spend with kids and for fear of disappointing them or not being liked. For this matter, I’m going to break out Richard Branson’s quote, “Screw it, let’s do it!”
Do what? Make your child successful! They will not be able to do it on their own. They will NOT like you along the way. If they pretend they do, it’s because they are doing other things behind your back that you don’t know about. Be real. Be respected. Be a parent.
As I recently visited a friend who had neighbors with kids running around like a herd of the heaviest African elephants in the apartment above me, I realized that parents today need to be validated. Parents, as you read my short stories regarding my parenting of Macy, remember: there is NO right. You will hear “so-and-so’s parent’s don’t do that”, “you’re so mean”, “all of my friends get (blank)”!
Ignore those thoughts and phrases coming from an elementary schooler or middle schooler. Ask yourself…who is raising who?
I was a young parent. Macy was born as I was at the end of my 19th year. For my southern friends out there, I will answer your question: No, I was not knocked up out of wedlock. I was living with Macy’s father in my senior year of high school and my family thought it was terrible. At least once per week, I got a call from one of them begging me to do the right thing…just get married.
When I did get married, like all of my friends, I followed suit to get this baby thing out of the way. Man, I am glad I did…I could not have kept up with her (the baby) otherwise! While I was pregnant, I begged God for a girl. He obliged with the most hard-headed, smartest, sweet pea you’ve ever laid eyes on. Let’s just say my most challenging moments of life to date involve Macy Elizabeth Tullis (now) Fortner.
Here are just a few of the ways that we raised Macy at a young age that I believe led to her a successful college path and into a career of concern for others:
- Answer a 4-year old’s questions as if they are adults. When she was younger, she always asking questions, sometimes to the point of being annoying. We would pass “old Coot”, a homeless man that once walked the roads in and around Flowery Branch and Buford, Georgia. Macy always asked about him, “Why is he alone mommy? Where does old Coot live? Where are his parents? Why does he need so much exercise?” She would see a dilapidated house and tell me she would ask why it was in disrepair. I would ask her what she would do if someone gave her that house. She said she was going to “fix it up” for people like Coot because they needed someone to take care of them too.I simply did my best to answer her question and provide another question for her little brain to think about, even when I just wanted peace and quiet. And yes, there were many days I probably said NOTHING. And there were more days than I can count that her great-grandmother, Gammy Green, a once aspiring school teacher stepped in to provide answers and even more questions.
- Teach your kid to take care of themselves. Honestly, I believe this starts at a very young age, like potty training age. Kids are perfectly capable of wiping their own rear ends before preschool age. Don’t embarrass yourself or your kid by continuing to wipe their tails for them. Nor is it cute for them to “need” their pacifiers past the age of 9 months. Our pediatrician said to take the pacifier away for a week at 9 months and they’ll never want it again. He was right! After day 5 of her beloved pacifier being gone….she found one in her toy box and brought it to me and said “shew!” I let her throw it in the trash can and she did!