Growing up, I was always the girl with the Cool Mom, and even now, that hasn’t changed. People—cousins, friends, even acquaintances—are always so amazed at how my mom managed to give us equally great amounts of freedom and discipline, and they always want to know what her secret was. And those who don’t ask her directly often ask me, putting me in the frequently awkward position of doling out advice on parenthood even though I don’t have any kids of my own.
But no matter how many times I explain that I don’t have kids of my own and can only draw conclusions from the way I was raised, there are a handful of people who regularly ask me questions like “How would you deal with this problem, given how it was for you as a kid?” or “How did your mom do what I’m trying to do now?”
Why they don’t just ask my mom, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps it’s because I seem more accessible, being closer to their age. Perhaps it’s because I make a living explaining things to others, and I’m known for backing up any input I give with my reasons for giving it without having to be asked.
Whatever the reason, I thought it might be handy if I summed up a few of the main things I’ve learned about being a parent from having been raised by a truly stellar one. And while I recognize that there are a lot of styles of parenting and that each person must find the one that works for them, I think that, if and when I have a child of my own, I’d want to follow my mom’s—so I can understand why the people who ask me about it would want to as well.
Check out the tips below, as well as photos of my mom with our family.
(Photos courtesy of Liana Smith-Bautista, Damon Kerby, and Eric Paolo Smith.)