It's amazing to me that you can do your best, or close enough, and still, one's children lag behind in proper etiquette, kindness, and choosing joy.
1. If what you're about to say doesn't make someone feel good, don't say it.
I remind my children again and again that it is better to refrain from remarking that someone looks like Santa, has lots of pimples, or a small head.
2. You choose how you feel.
I once operated under the philosophy that you just woke up feeling a certain way and that was all there was to it. Nope, you choose. Everyday and sometimes every minute, you choose. I'm still learning too.
3. Please and thank you are a must.
Please, say please and thank you. It's so easy and even Amos, our special needs three year old, signs please and says a rendition of thank you when reminded.
4. You're waiting.
Waiting is a natural struggle in a big family. Waiting for the bathroom, a hairbrush, bowl of cereal, a turn on the iPad, or even for your siblings to get in the backseat, all opportunities for patience.
5. Life is not fair.
Oh, I hated this one the most growing up, but you know what? It worked. One Christmas, I got a go cart and my brother got a boom box. The last Christmas before he got sick, I got a stereo and he got a car. I remember how excited I was about that car, somehow along the way I had learned life wasn't fair. How else can we be excited for others?
6. Include others.
I have always tried to encourage my children to be the includers, rather than join the excluders, even when your popularity is at risk. Think of Amos, I say and they remember.
7. Your best friends are your siblings.
No need for best friend necklaces or picking and choosing who likes who the best. You have each other, my husband and I remind them about every other day. Friends will come and go, but you will always one another.
8. Say you're sorry.
Once I became a mother, I realized that good manners are not always developmentally appropriate and learning to say you're sorry is a skill that all of us should have, though I know many grown ups who do not.
9. That's not worth crying about.
I welcome and even encourage discussing emotions and the shedding tears over important matters of the heart. I also am quick to say no crying over the silly minutiae in life such as lost Pokémon cards, a practical joke, taking a remote control, or someonegetting the best seat in the den. Not allowed.
10. Sometimes we argue, but we love each other.
Whether in the context of daddy and me or a brawl between two or more of them, we never hate. We can acknowledged that sometimes we get really angry, but that always happens when you live with people.