When I traveled to Siberia to complete the adoption of two of my children, I met their biological mother. It was heartbreaking. She was very detached and her eyes were so vacant. My children were two of the five she had lost to the orphanage. She didn’t take care of them or protect them. For many reasons, she did not do even the most basic things a mother should for her children.
When I saw how her actions, or lack of actions, had affected my children, my heart ached for them and for her. What we do as mothers matters so much. The basics come easily and automatically for most of us, but it’s the things moms should do that go beyond those basics that can really enrich our kids’ lives.
I know that for me, doing some of these requires that I am intentional, otherwise, they won’t get done. But please don’t panic or feel that this list adds to your mom guilt pile! These are things you probably already do in some way most days.
Be fully present.
You can’t be fully present with your child every minute, but you can check in with your child several times a day — to take her pulse of what’s happening in her life. When you do this, give her your full attention.
Be a good example.
Be a mom worthy of imitation. You don’t have to be perfect, but you want to be a living example of the values you want to see in your children.
Show physical affection.
When our kids are little this is so easy. But as your kids get older they may push you away a little — don’t let them! You don’t want to smother them, but you want to get that physical affection in when you can.
Use kind and loving words.
You want to convey to your child: I love you. I’m here for you. And while you’re making sure you’re saying loving and kind words, avoid these words moms should never say.
The purpose of discipline is to teach your child to have self-discipline. You want to be calm because if you’re angry you’re not teaching. When I had a child who kept doing the same thing wrong over and over and I was having a hard time staying calm when I disciplined, I came up with the Consequence Calculator. It helps you stay objective with your child and calm.
Laugh with them.
Every relationship needs a good dose of levity. Laughing with your kids is a way to connect with them and keep perspective on life. If all else fails — tickle them!
Pray with them.
If you don’t pray with your children, this is a great way to connect with them. Prayer may feel awkward at first, but just keep doing it.
Read with them.
Before you pray, take time to read with your child. Get a great family book like The Chronicles of Narnia series and read a little each night.
These are the small, daily things moms should do that create big connections with your child.