50 Shades of Mom: 50 Things Every Kid Needs to Hear

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50 things every child needs to hear from their mom by The Baby Planner author Josie BrownBy Josie Brown
Author of The Baby Planner

A few years back, the term “mommy porn” was an oxymoron. Today it’s a catchphrase describing the yummy mommy’s latest literary obsession: erotica. And no, it’s not referring to the paperback bodice-rippers touting heaving (hers) and bare (his) chests we found while scrounging for change at the bottom of our mothers’ purses. I guess the surrendered wife is back, in heels and in a cage: at least, in her fantasies.

Trust me, hubbies: After one flick of a horsewhip, she’ll gasp, “Honey, you shouldn’t have!” and for once, she’ll mean it. Expect a call from her attorney in the morning.

A recent cover of TIME displayed a different kind of mommy porn: a three-year-old, suckling the teat of his comely 26-year-old mother. I’m guessing she’ll have second thoughts about saying yes to the photo once the kid’s shrink bills pile up. She better hope Universal Healthcare is a reality before he turns twelve. Should the poor boy end up with an obsession with mammaries, here’s hoping he’ll turn it into a multimedia conglomerate. If Hef can do it, he can, too.

His mom will be so proud.

More disturbing than the magazine’s cover is its headline: “Are You Mom Enough?” In my opinion, that answer can’t be measured in the years it takes to wean your child. And certainly there is no definitive black-and-white answer to that question. Parenting is a chiaroscuro of actions and deeds. Forget about being the best mom in the world. You’re the best mother to your children if you:

1. Lead by example.
2. Teach them to speak out on behalf of others.
3. Stop them from passing judgment on others.
4. Show respect to people of all ages, young and old.
5. Let your children learn from their mistakes.
6. Teach your children to play fair.
7. Tell the truth, always.
8. Watch your children for signs of stress, because sometimes actions speak louder than words.
9. Teach your children that blame isn’t as important as finding solutions.
10. Introduce them to superheroes who don’t wear capes and tights, but do their bit to save the world.
11. Are not afraid to teach your child that he’s not always right.
12. Are not afraid to admit that you aren’t always right, either.
13. Demonstrate kindness and generosity to others.
14. Teach them to say “Please” and “Thank you.”
15. Say “I love you” often.
16. Make your point, without shouting or threats.
17. Teach them that the word is mightier than the punch.
18. Demonstrate respect to friends, families and strangers.
19. Inspire them to follow their dreams.
20. Encourage them to take on responsibilities.
21. Teach them the importance of education.
22. Help them discover the joy of reading.
23. Teach them that nutrition means great health.
24. Compliment them.
25. Can avoid making every decision for them.
26. Hold them to their promises.
27. Deliver on your promises to them.
28. Reward them after a good deed.
29. Teach them to respect their teachers.
30. Show a united front with their father on issues involving their wellbeing.
31. Don’t project the personal fears that held you back onto them, as they find their own way in the world.
32. Encourage their creativity.
33. Pass along the message that we all make mistakes—and can be forgiven for them.
34. Remind them that nothing is more important than family and friends.
35. Don’t allow them to become bullies.
36. Encourage them to learn from their losses.
37. Teach them to respect their bodies, and the bodies of others.
38. Teach them the joys of fruits and vegetables, as opposed to unhealthy fats, salts, and sugars.
39. Take them on walks, where you initiate long discussions.
40. Answer their questions, openly and honestly
41. Encourage their desire to learn more about the world.
42. Never talk down to them.
43. Give them chores.
44. Trust them to do the right thing.
45. Ask their opinion, and then listen to it.
46. Honor their trust.
47. Allow them to seek their own path.
48. Kiss and hug them often.
49. Love them at every age and stage.
50. Share wonderful experiences with them.

If your mothering skills touch on the majority of these traits, then yes, you’ve made your mark on humanity, and together you and your children will share lots of memories (if not mammaries).

Josie Brown’s novels include The Baby Planner and Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives. Her latest novel is The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook.

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