Elana’s Parenting 101

Elana’s Parenting 101

Now that my boys are 19 and 20, I’ve been looking back on my parenting and reflecting on what I did right raising them. Stepping back and examining what I did wrong was a daily exercise while they were growing up. I’m very analytical and audit everything I do. I’m very critical and it’s likely I don’t give myself credit day-to-day for all of the things I do. So now, time for that.

I Don’t Trust You

The title of this section should really be, “I don’t trust you as far as I can throw a stick.” I said that to my boys a few times when they bothered to ask if I trusted them. The longer reply to that question entailed the response. It’s not my job to trust you, it’s my job to keep you alive.

It’s My Job to Keep You Alive

Yes, it’s true. The main part of my job as the mother of young boys, who turned into teenagers, was to keep them out of trouble and alive. Keeping them out of trouble meant giving the boys tons of chores. You can read about that in my write up on Children & Chores. I also made sure they had plenty of after-school and summer activities. Play a sport and have a part-time job during the summer. Don’t want to play a sport? Get a full-time job. No sitting around with time on your hands here.

I’m Not Your Friend

Most definitely. I’m not your friend. I’m your Mother.

I Don’t Care if You Like Me

It’s ok if you like me, it’s ok if you don’t. I don’t actually care what you think about me, my job is to parent you. And my job is to raise a good human. If you don’t like the choices I make, it means I’m doing a great job.

Empty Nest

Now that they are both in college and the nest is empty, I’ve had time to move away from analyzing all I failed to do, and look at the bigger, better picture. The boys are safe, happy, and living their lives as they wish to. For me, that equals successful parenting. Some success, since so much of life, is luck. We have had a lot of good luck in our child-rearing.


When it comes to parenting, some things are in our control. When the boys were younger, my husband and I clashed a lot about how to raise them. I drove everyone around me crazy with my perfectionism around parenting, but that’s another story. Once they were in middle school we were on the same page which made our lives much easier. I don’t know what I would have done without Mr. Pantry. He is a strong man and a fantastic role model for our two boys, whom I love and adore, more and more as each day goes by. Although there have been some Challenges in My Life, this little family is the best thing that ever happened to me and I am incredibly grateful to be a part of it!

Your Parenting Challenges?

What are your biggest parenting challenges? If you’re an empty-nester like me, what did you do right, and what do you wish you’d done differently?

Raising kids is a challenge and a blessing, it seems you’ve been quite successful!


26 responses to “Elana’s Parenting 101”

  1. Thank you for this post. We can be kind and loving parents, and at the same time have expectations of our children so that they can be ready for adulthood. This can be challenging when parents get push back that they are the only ones with a bedtime, limited screen time, have to make supper etc., so it’s always great to hear this message from parents who have completed this chapter.

  2. Elana, as usual you have written a fantastic post here. With no children of my own I can’t put your approach into practice myself, but I love your parenting approach and think it’s spot on.

    BTW, made your “original” chocolate chip cookie recipe for Valentine’s Day, and they were fantastic! Continued thanks for all that you do!

  3. I love this! I’ve said a lot of the same things to my children about trust & keeping them safe, I’m not your friend, I’m your mom. My oldest took that to heart so, I had to explain that I didn’t mean we’re enemies. I further explained that it was my job to guide her her and do right by all of them. I think contributing to the family by way of chores teaches them a lot of life lessons.
    One thing I know for sure, raising kids goes by way too fast. My kids are 18, 16, & 13. Oh, to smell their baby heads or look at their tiny toes again…

    Thank you for sharing with all of us.

    Quick Question- My 13 year old is a boy – he gets great grades, plays sports, does chores, and he’s a social kid. However, he loves video games.
    Did you have any rules about video games? Do you have any insight to share?

  4. Gosh those words resonate with me !! Big time empty nest here, eldest son just graduated from uni and working away from home , second son away from home at uni too…only the youngest 17 year old son left at home he’s getting all the attention and isn’t liking it, feels like his Dad and I all our focus is on him, he definitely misses the family dynamic of his brothers here too for the banter at least. So it’s hard for him too. On a brighter note the boys are cooking for themselves and living within their budgets so I’ve taught them well…and of course thank goodness for FaceTime even if it’s from the supermarket ha ha last weeks dilemma was “Mum can you add pasta to a Asian stir fry, cos I’ve some left over and it’s not enough for a meal on its own ??” Bless him

    • Evie, you have taught them VERY WELL. I love that they’re living away from home and cooking for themselves within their budgets! And love the story about the Asian stir fry :-)

  5. Though I’m not an empty nester yet, I still have an 11 yr old son at home, my first 4 have grown up and are leading successful lives. I put a lot of effort into my kids and some of the things I did right were a chore wheel so all 4 could evenly share in all the chores including dusting, ironing and laundry, meal prep, dishes, etc. We also had read alouds every day which my kids even enjoyed as teens. We shared a lot of great stories together. I don’t have many regrets but it’s really great when your daughter-in-law thanks you for raising a good man for her husband and your son thanks you for a good childhood. So hang in there for everyone still in the throes of parenting!

  6. We are empty nesters with 4 children between 39 and 22. What we did right was enable great relationships between the children. I wanted them to get along because growing up with 9 siblings there was always strife between us. As adults we have never all gotten along for very long. Hubby and I worked very hard to stress that, as siblings, they were to value each other, care for each other, and help each other. Somehow, we were blessed to be able to accomplish that. They love each other.

    • Irene, that is absolutely beautiful that you were able to cultivate great relationships between your children!

  7. Hi Elana,
    Raising kids is a challenge and a blessing, it seems you’ve been quite successful! Mine are 33 and 34, my daughter has a 9 yr old boy and my son has 14 & 7 yr old daughters and a 10 month old boy. I homeschooled my kids from 3rd grade through highschool and they had a great many chores, in addition to helping their Dad with his Drywall company. They complained frequently that none of their friends had to do chores or work in the family business. They appreciate it now though. Everyone had to pull their weight at home, chores were never paid for. Their Dad paid them for the very hard manual labor they did for him and before they were 18 they could both out work most men and do it well.

    My main regrets were when I lost my temper and shouted, but I never called them names or belittled. I also regret being impatient and even if unwarranted, I feel guilty for being sick for most of their teen years. It was difficult for everyone. I also apologized when I made certain mistakes and I expected them to make genuine apologies to others.

    Being a Grandmother has its challenges as well, like keeping my mouth shut while they raise their kids and do things differently than I might. It’s not that their way is wrong, just different and it’s not my place to interfere. I do my best to be supportive, I love when they ask my advice, but I also tell them that if they choose another way I’m not offended.

    As for the empty nest, well it was a bit sad of course, but it also gave my husband and I more time to focus on each other again. :-)

    • Lisa, thanks for your beautiful and heartfelt comment. I have regrets too about my parenting, I think we all do, since we’re human beings and not perfect. I haven’t reached the grandmother stage yet, but love your perspective on that! And agree, the empty nest is empty and sad, but it’s also a beautiful thing that my husband and I get to really focus on each other again :-)

  8. Elana,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights. I really appreciate your opinion on chores. My children expect so much and aren’t as willing to contribute. I am a firm believer in chores – my siblings and I grew up with live in help and we still had many chores and responsibilities. I am going to get the checklists going for my kiddos.
    Congratulations on your parenting successes- definitely something to look forward to.

    • Lulu, I totally get it. My boys were often resistant about doing chores but smartened up very quickly when I gave out consequences :-)

  9. Hello Elana—
    As always…. thank you for sharing so much about your life!! I am loving your new website revamp. So easy to navigate. I have cherished all the years you have been visiting my inbox.

    • Lynn, thanks for your kind words about the website revamp! I love visiting your inbox –thanks for visiting my website :-)

  10. This piece couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m in the middle of early highschool minor crises, bad decisions, unpleasant consequences. My eye is set on the prize of having a happy, healthy, responsible 30 year old son. Maybe them were can be friends.

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