Growing up, my friends constantly commented on how I had a 'cool' mom. I didn't get it. How could the rule-enforcer, curfew-maker and fun-spoiler actually be cool?
Now that I'm a mother; I get it. I can finally admit the truth. My mom IS cool.
Here are 7 things I learned from my mom about how to be cool:
1. Welcome friends into your home
As a teenager, my home was filled with friends.
My mom enforced strict rules about where I was allowed to go, but she never put restrictions on who was allowed at our house. When my parents weren't comfortable with me going to a party, they encouraged me to invite friends to our home.
2. Provide fun activities
Most of my friends never wanted to be at their homes because they were "boring." In my home, we had a basketball shooting game, air hockey table, video games, board games and a hot tub.
While younger children can entertain themselves with a few toys, teenagers need engaging activities to keep them out of trouble. If you have fun activities in your home, they'll prefer to spend time there.
3. Keep your pantry stocked with food
The way to every child's heart is through the pantry.
It's a simple technique. If you have the food; they will come. Just the essentials will do the trick: chips, cookies and candy. This doesn't mean you have to eat these things on a daily basis in your home. Instead, my mom had a stash she would hide and bring out for special occasions.
4. Give your children a choice
With younger children it's choosing which music to listen to while driving in the car, helping decide what to buy at the grocery store, or which movie to watch as a family.
With teenagers it's allowing your child to choose (within reason) his curfew, which night he would like to hang out with his friends, and when he chooses to wake up or go to sleep.
I never realized my mom was sacrificing her desires each time she gave us a simple choice, but I remember feeling like I won the lottery because I was able to make decisions for myself.
5. Allow them to stay up past bedtime or out past curfew
As a young child, some of my favorite memories were when my parents allowed me to stay up just a little bit later to watch a movie. This simple tactic provides long lasting memories.
When I was a teenager it seemed my curfew was always earlier than my friends. A few times, when my parents trusted who I was with and knew where I was, they would allow me to stay later than normal. This simple allowance strengthened our relationship.
6. Keep some distance
I went to the same high school where my mom was a teacher. Because I was an immature teenager, this was fairly devastating. Although everyone else loved my mom as a teacher, I tried to steer clear of her. She did a great job respecting my privacy. She allowed me to have my own experiences, and she didn't show up in the lunchroom to eat with me.
As a parent, I've had to realize there are times when you simply have to play it cool by giving your child some distance. This often means I refrain from making silly comments on my son's Instagram post, commenting about the way he does his hair, or the hi-top converse he chooses to wear.
7. Fake it until you make it
I didn't realize my mom was faking most of what she was doing; making up the parenting rules as she went along.
Outwardly my mom was playing it cool, but inward she was praying with all her might that I would make good decisions, choose amazing friends, and stay out of trouble.
Just like most parents, mine were trying to act like they were cool with the things I was doing during my childhood, but mostly they were simply hoping we all survived.