Have you been busy trying to get your family ready for back-to-school? I remember how daunting that felt and how I wasn’t always ready for the new school year to begin. Yet, time marches on. And with the start of the new year come new adventures.
In fact, I’m looking forward to having some myself as I move on as the editor of Memphis Parent magazine.
It was 17 years ago this month, back in August 1999, that I published my first issue of Parent for CMI. We looked very different back then, running as a black-and-white tabloid with a huge pullout calendar in the center, sponsored by Baptist Pediatric’s P.D. Parrot. Thankfully, the solid base of advertisers steadily grew during my time here.
While the magazine morphed as the years passed, the focus never wavered. I’ve always aimed to be a reliable, accurate news resource for families in Memphis and the Mid-South. When I was thinking about this letter, I realized that children like my son, who was a preschooler in 1999, are now close to completing college. Impossible! Or maybe not. When I was at work on the 25th anniversary issue back in December, I crunched the numbers and realized I had published more than 200 issues of this magazine.
This final issue, in fact, will be my 205th. That, dear reader, is a LOT of deadlines.
Throughout that time, my passion for this work has remained constant. But now that my son is getting closer to embarking on adventures of his own, I felt the time was right to step down and allow another to bring their vision to this publication. It will be different, I’m sure, but I’m optimistic they will care as much about parenting as I do.
Since I’ve been dedicated to talking about what it takes to be strong, effective parent, I thought I’d leave you with a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Embrace the power of “Yes!” As parents, we have a tendency to say no — a lot. That’s why it’s important to remember the power of “Yes.” When I look back on Evan’s childhood, the times I said yes to something I’d initially nixed turned out to be among my best decisions.
Exercise your authority and say no when necessary. We often struggle with setting limits for our kids because we’re afraid we might risk losing their love. But guess what? The opposite is true. Children need and want limits. Limits make kids feel safe and teach them self-discipline. They also demonstrate you care about their safety and well-being. Be fair and consistent, but help your kids know the boundaries of their world.
Make time to talk and listen to your child. Children are hungry for our attention. I remember my son often just wanted me to sit down and play cars with him. Make an effort each day to step away from technology and truly engage with your children. More importantly, really listen to what they have to say. You might be surprised to learn what’s on their mind.
Never underestimate how much you are needed. It’s easy to recognize this fact when children are young, but that confidence can be shaken as adolescence unfurls. Rest assured, you play a critical role in each phase of life, even for that surly teen who barely acknowledges your presence today. Kids need the reassurance that comes from knowing you are in their corner. Don’t be put off by their push for independence. Provide space, but use those moments when you can make a connection and let them know you are believe in them.
Remember that raising a child is the most important work you will ever do. Jobs will come and go, but in the final analysis, the children we raise to become productive, kind, benevolent citizens of the world will be the legacy we leave behind.
As for me, I’ll still be in the 901 neighborhood. Right now, I’m busy developing a new website, so stay tuned. Finally, thank you for joining me on this amazing journey. I couldn’t have done it without you.