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Theories for Raising My Children

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"Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories." -- John Wilmot (1647-1680).

crying child in supermarket

Blythe Newsome: We have all been around children before we had children of our own. As you watch those children throw fits and the parents give in, you find yourself thinking that your children will never behave like that and that you will never be that kind of parent. You judge the parents for handing out sugary treats to quiet their children, being permissive enough to give in to a child's every whim. Then you have children and all of those theories go out the window.

My theories dictated that I was not going to be the parent who gave in to a crying child. I would not have children who would be out in public places and be disruptive and loud. I couldn't imagine sitting in the backseat to quiet my child -- I would be up front with their dad. In my dreams, my children were always clean and my house a beautiful and orderly place. When we decide to become parents, those are the things we tell ourselves, that our children will be different.

And then I had children -- six of them, to be exact -- and I quickly learned that even a loving, yet firm parent can be caught in a moment where you just do whatever you can to get through the moment.

Trust me, I have those moments. Sometimes when we are doing a big shopping trip at the grocery store, I am the mom that opens a bag of Goldfish to quiet my crying toddler. There were many car trips I spent in the backseat distracting the little ones while their Dad drove. My children sometimes have dirt on their faces, and my house is in no way the organized Architectural Digest home I imagined. I have flowers in my kitchen, but they are wilted and not what I would have imagined 20 years ago as a centerpiece.

But to me they are beautiful; they are a gift from my son and daughter's backyard adventure. The best part of that muddy adventure was that while they came back dirty, they thought of me and brought me back a flower -- in one of my favorite expensive crystal vases that they filled with dirt. I cannot imagine it holding anything more precious and beautiful.

Maybe at times my children are crying and whining and demanding my attention. I am sure there have been plenty of times when people have seen us out and looked at my children and thought, "If I were their parent ..."

A part of me is that parent I was so sure I would never be. My theories on raising children are very different now. They revolve around never letting a day go by when I haven't told my children how much I love them, holding them tight while they are so little and being there for them as they venture out into the world. I hope that while they are young, I will show them unconditional love and the beauty that life holds for them. My theories will continue to change as the years go by, but instead of deciding now what kind of parent I will be to these ever-changing children, I am going to focus on the parent I am today with the children that bless my life.

next: 22 Things We'll Teach Our Sons about Women
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