Several years ago, the mother of a newborn was suddenly overcome by the responsibility of raising a child, and she asked me how to go about it.
First off, I told her she was a good person and she would be a good mother, but a good compass is to think forward and decide what kind of grownup she wanted her baby to be one day.
If she wanted her child to be a kind adult, then train the child to be kind. If she wanted her child to be intelligent, then teach the child to read and learn and be curious. If she wanted her child to be polite, then teach the child manners.
All of these traits have to be taught through example as well.
If she wanted her child to believe in God, then she had to go and take the child to church. She had to show and live a Godly life. If she wanted her child not to use vulgar language or watch objectionable shows, then the mother could not prohibit the child and then use that language and watch those shows herself.
It’s the same with eating broccoli or learning to like the ends of a loaf of bread, exercising and learning how to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Respect goes both ways; what is respectful for the parent is respectful for the child. A parent cannot say one thing and then do the opposite.
I did warn her that each child is born with their own personality, and there might be contradictory natures, especially when the child hits the stinky teenaged years, but if the parent starts with the first diaper change, she might have a fighting chance of leading the child in the right direction. Never forget, you are the parent and the child expects you to parent.
I asked her if this was helpful, and she nodded, a smile on her face. She asked me how I got to be so wise. I tried to teach my three to be truthful, so I had to be truthful to this young mom – trial and error. Mostly trial and a little error.