Parenting Advice from a Non-Parent

I have no children. None. Not one. I'm 32, married and childless by choice. The hubby and I have 11 nieces and nephews between us (that includes three "bonus babies" birthed by friends) who range in age from a couple of months old to 20 years old. So, I have some experience with kids/teens/young adults, but I'm no parent.

Yet and still, moms and dads, I have some parental advice for you. Did you just smack your lips? Was that you who rolled your eyes just now? I know, I know. Parents never ever ever ever want to hear anything that even remotely sounds like child rearing advice from someone who has no kids. But hear me out, I promise this will only hurt if you see yourself here. These are just some of my outside-in observations. See if these things hit home.

No Scowls Before Noon

When I was taking the train to work every morning, I would often see a little boy about six years old with his mother. Nine out of 10 times she was literally dragging the boy by his arm into the train car and yelling at him to hold on to the poll the "right" way. He couldn't do anything right. Ever. She literally scowled at him and ignored him as much as possible through out the ride, occasionally interrupting her furrowed brow, pursed lip look to admonish him about something imaginary or unimportant. Poor kid. I always thought about what a horrible and awful way that was to start his school day.

Non-Parent Lesson: Start your kids day off with hugs, kisses and encouragement, so he can start the next part of his day with excitement, confidence and curiosity.

'Mini-Me' Needs the Age Appropriate Version

You've seen the "mini-me" kids before. It's usually little girls. Mmmhmmm. You saw that child at the kindergarten graduation with a weave ponytail, lipstick and... toddler heels? Then there's that one kid at the birthday party who knew how to do every grown up dance, very well. Oh, that is a reality. And honestly, it does seem fun to dress up a kid like a baby doll when they're all tiny and adorable, but kids can not and should not be miniatures of their parents, especially when said parents act/dress like a fool.

Non-Parent Lesson: Let kids be kids. Sure it's funny to hear a little kid repeat something inappropriate or try to mimic mommy/daddy, but let their natural childish adorableness shine through without a grown-up mask.

Homie/Mommy/Friend Does Not Exist

It's so great to have an open and honest relationship with your child, especially with teens. You want your child to feel comfortable telling you the important things going on in her life, but there should be limits. For one, she is not your girlfriend, which means you can't tell her everything about your grown up life. She should not know the ins and outs of your bedroom activity or whatever slick comments you have to say behind the back of your supposed best friend. You can be a "cool" mom who is still responsible. You know what happens when you tell your kids too much? They end up telling their friends/teachers/mentors and your biz is all in the streets. Believe it.

Non-Parent Lesson: The coolest moms are the moms who can instill discipline, pride and respect in their kids and still have fun.

See, now that didn't hurt, did it? If it did, then there was a mirror somewhere in there. Don't blame the messenger.