Today’s guest post is from Susan Merrill, a mom of five who serves as the Director of iMom. Susan is a speaker at our 2013 Hearts at Home conferences. Her new book The Passionate Mom is a refreshing word of encouragement for moms!
Do you ever feel as if parenting your children requires a strategic plan equivalent to the CIA’s? In any given moment, I would need all my wits about me to tell you the exact who, what, where, and when of each of my five kids’ activities. Pulling off a complex operation like parenting requires the help of informants. As a mom, you can’t be everywhere all the time so you need some extra eyes and ears. And the best eyes and ears out there are other moms! Having an “understanding” with other moms who come into contact with your kids can yield valuable information you need to parent well and protect your children.
That’s why it’s important to develop a mom network or, as we’ve humorously dubbed our group of friends, a Mom Mafia. These are the moms of your kids’ friends who will be around your children and their gang of buddies when you might not be. They’ll hear things you won’t and will pick up information from their own child about yours. They can be an important ally in the fight to keep your kids safe, healthy, and on the right track. Every mom needs friends, so make your own version of the Mom Mafia by doing the following:
Build Relationships with Key Informants.
If you don’t have a friendship with any of the parents of your kids’ friends, get busy. It’s important to know these moms well if your child is going to be hanging out in their home and spending lots of time with their child.
Get Over the Guilt.
Some moms have been tricked into feeling guilty about checking up on their kids or asking them questions. Don’t feel guilty! It’s your job to train your child and how can you train if you are not collecting data? Besides, the child who fusses about an “invasion of privacy” might be a child who has something to hide.
Protect Your Sources.
This is straight from Intelligence Gathering 101. If another member of the Mom Mafia tells you that your 7th grader was sitting with a boy at the movies when you thought you were dropping her off to see the show with her girlfriends, do not say, “Mrs. Williams saw you and called me.” You might get your informant in trouble. Just let your child wonder how you know—it will make her think you have mysterious powers. So fun!
Share and Share Alike.
If you want other moms to go out on a limb for you, you need to be willing to do the same for them. Take the time to listen out when the gang is at your house for things that you know would be concerning to other moms, and use wisdom about when to “file a report.”
Don’t be Sensitive.
This is a toughie. Having another mom come to you and tell you that your child was seen drinking, cheating on a test, or had some other breakdown in character can be hard to hear. Don’t shoot the messenger. If you think the other mom may have her information wrong in some way, thank her for caring about your child and being willing to intervene. If you make her feel like the villain, she’ll never share again.
What about you? Do you have a Mom Mafia? Can you share any additional strategies you’ve found to be helpful in building your “team?”