terrified of my kid's teen years. Seriously. The thought of my cheery
4-year-old girl and my enthusiastic 8-year-old boy turning into sullen teen
zombies who only speak in eye rolls and one-word sentences has me worried. It doesn't help that everyone I know who
actually has teenagers says the same thing: Brace yourself.
But as I was
reading Bill Simmons' Q&A cover story for GQ Magazine on President Barack
Obama, one thing was very clear to me: President Obama and his wife Michelle are
doing a fabulous job raising their teen daughters Malia (17) and Sasha (14).
there's one thing I've learned in my eight years as a parent, it's that you can
only control how you raise our kids. You can't control how they turn out. But in my experience the more kind and respectful you are of your kids, the better they turn out. And let's face it, when was the last time you
read a news story about Malia or Sasha getting in to major trouble or embarrassing
their Mom and Dad? Never.
Sure the Obama girls have the benefit of living in an insular environment with
Secret Service agents following their every move, but that still doesn't mean a
teen couldn't find a way to stir the pot. Seems to me like the President and his wife are raising two great kids.
After reading the GQ article, I realized that it's not random that Obama's got
two nice kids.
In fact, I
finished the article having learned a thing or two about raising children. Whether you
like President Barack Obama's politics or not, think he has been a good
president or not, there's one thing you can't deny: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have a few parenting lessons we can all learn from.
1. Give credit to your partner.
Parenting a kid of any age isn't easy, so it's nice to know our partner appreciates what we're doing, even if our kids sometimes don't.
When talking about how great his kids are,
Obama beams. But he's quick to give credit where credit is due saying, "Michelle's done a great job with them." Undoubtedly Mrs. Obama is doing most of the
parenting heavy lifting while Obama runs the country. How nice that he gives
her the credit she deserved. It reminds me to give my partner the credit he
deserves. Parenting a kid of any age isn't easy, so it's nice to know our partner
appreciates what we're doing, even if our kids sometimes don't.
2. Say nice things about your kids.
All too often, we talk about our children's
less-than-stellar qualities. Likewise,
we parents often talk about the parenting hardships. Even if they don't hear the conversations, our
kids catch on. But Obama is quick to
compliment his kids saying, "They're
smart, they're funny. They take after their mom." Instead of talking about how his kids drive
him crazy, which I'm sure they do, Obama focuses on the positive in his
kids. It reminds me to do the same even
when my 4-year-old is screaming, "You're the worst Mommy ever," like she did
3. Accept your kids for what they are.
seems like a lot of parents, especially parents of teens, resent their kids for
being who they are. Obama seems to accept
life with teens and takes it in stride rather than fighting the inevitable
moods, lack of interest and phone obsession. He even seems to have a genuine appreciation for his daughters' tech skills
saying, "Both are complete ninjas on the phone, right? And
they can do things that I don't even understand—they're doing it in two
4. Let your kids blossom, which means they won't always have time for you.
Most of us moms want to hold on to our time
with our children for dear life. We weep
when they go on sleepovers and count the days until sleep away camp is over.
But Obama has a totally different approach saying, "You just
have to let go, you have to acknowledge that if you say to them, 'Hey, you want
to go watch this movie?' or 'Hey, you want to go take a swim at the pool?' [they'll
say], 'No, sorry, Daddy. I love you, though. See you tomorrow, 'cause I'm
spending the night at somebody's house.' The golden age is between, say, 6, 7 and 12, and they're your buddies and they just want to hang out. And after
that, they will love you, but they don't have that much time for you." My kids are in Obama's suggested "golden age"
so I'm going to enjoy it.
5. Have confidence in your parenting
While most parents, myself included, seem nervous about the future,
President Obama seems to trust that he and his wife are doing a good job
raising their daughters, and that will pay off in their daughters becoming nice
young adults. He says with frankness, "And my understanding is, based on friends of mine who
have older kids, is that with a little bit of luck, as long as you're not so
completely annoying during these teenage years, they'll come back to you around
23, 24, and actually want to hang out with you. But that stretch is painful."
So I guess the key to having a close family is not be too annoying of a parent.
6. Appreciate your children surpassing you
Nothing beats watching your children become smarter and cooler than you are.
I know that my 8-year-old can master a
video game before it seems like I've even opened the box. And my 4-year-old
can remember where anything is in the house even when I can't. So according to
Obama, we should celebrate our kids being better at things than we are. He says, "Nothing
beats watching your children become smarter and cooler than you are. And you
suddenly will hear them say something or make a joke or have an insight and you
go, 'Wow. I didn't think of that.'" He's 100 percent correct. The product of being a good parent is that our children will often surpass us.
Bring it on!
7. Have a sense of humor!
Obama is a seasoned politician well-versed in talking to reporters, but
even the savviest politician can be brought to his knees when talking about
what it's like to live with teenagers. But President Obama has a light, breezy
tone when talking about being a dad. He
even jokes that he may be the Commander In Chief of the nation but he's third
in command of his household. He jokes, "I rank above the dogs." Kudos
to the President for keeping his sense of humor!