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There are several questions that Sean and I get asked each and every time we speak. One question is how accurate was The Blind Side? Very; my three kids left the theater and in reference to Sandra Bullock’s performance said, “great there are two of them running around now.” My rhetorical question was, “Is there a problem with that?”

The next question is, “What type of parenting skills did you use to raise three good kids? What was your plan?” All I can say is: PARENTING IS HARD!! We get many letters and emails from parents seeking advice about how to raise their children. Honestly we feel we are truly not qualified to answer parenting questions and we tell that to everyone.

The Tuohy Family. From left: Sean, Leigh Anne, Michael, Collins and SJ.

However, I will share a few of my thoughts:

First, don’t let your lives as a parent contradict what and how you tell your kids to live. Yes, as parents we have occasional lapses in judgment. We too, are a work in progress. But your children watch each and everything you do and say. I have found that children are usually a direct reflection of their parents. Hence, comes the old saying that the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree! I always ask myself, if my kids shadowed me 24/7 would they be better because of it or not? Would I inspire and educate them or would they learn things that are not really appropriate or uplifting? Stop and give that a little thought.

2) Follow the Rules: Our household had rules to follow. It was pretty simple in our eyes that if you followed the rules then everything would probably work out for the best. Occasionally, the kids courageously broke the rules and Momma was not happy about that! My first instinct was to fire them but the reality was we had to pick them up, brush them off, hug them and explain how the cookie crumbled and that tomorrow is a new day! Many kids think if they play by the rules then they won’t have any fun in life. Let your children know that life has so much to offer and that rules are a good thing. I think love and stability are two of the most important factors in raising a child.

3) Love ‘em and provide a stable home: That feeling of security helps them overcome so many other hurdles in life and it is such a solid foundation to work from. Sean and I knew there would be sacrifices when we decided to become parents, because you usually have to sacrifice to be a giver, and both sacrifice and giving are elements in parenting. As I look back on our lives there have been so many: hopes, dreams, challenges, triumphs, instructions, heart melting moments, tears and laughter. We had no outline or book to follow or contract to sign with the kids (well one time we made SJ sign a driving contract!) Everything was used as a learning experience. We had very specific values and qualities we wanted to instill in our kids. Yes, we had wonderful help along the way from family, friends, our church, and probably even a few strangers. Collectively, they all helped us raise responsible, respectful children. We always worked as a team but there was never a question as to who was in charge!

4) There is no personal space: It was my and Sean’s space and we often told the kids they were blessed to get to have a loving, caring family that provided them with a family, a home, love and structure. That is not afforded to every child in this world and we didn’t want them to take it for granted. It was not and is not a right; it is a blessing and a gift. The kids sometimes called me inappropriate names such as the General, insinuating life was a dictatorship, but it was never as bad as they occasionally want you to think! Parenting is a road of understanding with different stations to stop and learn ; where new things are learned and past wrongs can be righted. It’s about making good choices.

5) Create routines, learn patience, listen a lot and always set aside some time for yourself: A hot bath makes even the worst issue not seem so bad! At the end of the day when I turn the light out to say my prayers, if I knew in my heart that I gave 100%, did my very best and ended the day with hugs and kisses, then tomorrow suddenly looked much brighter.

6) Cherish the time: My last thought as SJ is getting ready to start his senior year in high school is that time flies by and then they are gone and you wish you were right back in the frying pan of confusion! So enjoy those moments that you thought were life ending disasters! Trust me, it’s never as bad as you think!!

What are some parenting tips you can share?

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @LeighAnneTuohy and play #TuohyTrivia on Tuesdays for a chance to win a $25 donation to the charity of your choice for answering the question correctly. Learn more about my family’s charity at The Making It Happen Foundation.

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