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Whatever, Mom

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At the request of a local Source Weekly reader (and mama-to-be), I've compiled my go-to list of motherly tips.

"Not parenting clichés," she specified. "Just simple, meaningful suggestions."

1.Take it or leave it. It's the best part about advice.

2. Allow yourself to feel. Elation, anger, heartbreak, confusion—let your feelings happen, but don't let them consume you.

3. Step out of yourself. When #2 fails (and it will), take some deep breaths and consider another perspective. Assess the situation and remember how tiny you (and your child) really are in the universe.

4. Always be honest. You can still protect without fib-filled sheltering. Your trust is invaluable. Candidness is key.

5. Show and tell. Let your actions speak loudly as you teach compassion, gratitude, humility, and empathy.

6. Find and appreciate humor. Laugh with your child. Laugh at yourself.

7. Shower the people you love with love. Hugs and kisses are the ultimate healers—for your little one and for you.

8. Be consistent, but be flexible. Mama's Ten Commandments should be implemented regularly and open for improvement.

9. Trust your gut. You're more intuitive than you probably think (and yes, motherly instincts do exist).

10. Exemplify respect. Your relationships, friendships, and everyday encounters should be a testament to kindness.

11. Keep a leash on your complaining. In the scheme of things, it's probably pretty petty (see #3).

12. Get creative. Those tried-and-true parenting methods are bound to get rusty. Try something different.

13. Give your full attention. Don't just hear; listen. It often requires some serious patience, but your kiddo is worth every second. And those to-do lists and work deadlines can (and should) wait.

14. Set realistic rules and appropriate consequences. Sorry, but junior just isn't going to finish his broccoli every time (or perhaps ever, for that matter). Are you really going to make him sleep at the dinner table?

15. Encourage ample outdoor adventure. Limit the electronics and expose your little broods to nature. Take them camping, hiking, climbing, swimming, etcetera, etcetera.

16. Use positive words. Your age and authority aren't grounds for belittlement, and labels will create damaging complexes. Keep the glass half-full.

17. Read, sing, dance, play, draw, paint, and build. The more, the merrier.

18. Don't take it so personally. As disciplinarian, you're naturally an easy target. But despite their initial sting, those hurtful comments usually aren't as malicious as they seem.

19. Foster independence. Let go a little. Your kids are never going to learn if you keep doing it for them.

20. Support their curiosity and individuality. Encourage them to question the "facts" and form their own beliefs. Accept their differences as special and unique.

21. Be involved. Pay attention to their needs and interests. Get to know their friends. Support their biggest dreams.

22. Lighten up. Keep the sticks out of your butt, accept the imperfections, and don't compare yourself to other parents.

23. Give meaningful praise. "Good job" is far too hollow without "I like/appreciate/am proud of the way you..."

24. Know when to bite your tongue and walk away. Yes, you'll live to regret those hot-headed, harsh words. Pick your battles and focus on what really matters (see #16).

25. Be sensitive and considerate. Own up to your faults, be genuine, and apologize. And while you're at it, forgive yourself.

26. Be a parent and a friend. Contrary to popular opinion, you can be both.

27. Love—and take time for—yourself. Your sanity is key for (everyone's) survival.

Keep the questions/comments/stories coming to whatevermomcolumn@gmail.com.

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