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Caroline Rules

Am I Over-Mothering?

Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Check back at Glo every Monday as Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.

The Dilemma: Caroline, what would you say is the most important thing about being a mother? I have had people say that I am too "involved" in my children's lives. I love to talk with my children to find out what they are thinking and if they feel like they are having problems. I also attend every event, ball game and parent-teacher conference. I want my children to follow their dreams and also make them outstanding citizens, but how do I know when I'm doing too much? — Tami

Caroline's Ruling: Great question, Tami, but I think I'm going to broaden things a bit: I'm going to bring in fathers too. Raising children is a team effort, so let's give the dads out there some recognition!

My vision of parenthood is very simple. Think about this: You find out you're expecting, and from that very moment you begin to nurture the “seed” within you. You eat properly, you rest, you generally curb your drinking and smoking and whatever “bad” habits you may have. It's all about the baby.

Nine months later you give birth to a tiny little miracle that you love so fiercely and unconditionally from the instant you lay your eyes on them. This little seed turned into a full-fledged living, breathing person, and you are responsible for every aspect of their life for many years to come. ...Read More

I don't know about you, but Al and I were determined to turn our “little seeds” into mighty oaks. We were those parents at every game cheering them on from the sidelines when they did well and giving them an “it's OK” hug when they didn't. I cannot tell you how many times our kids would look up in the stands to see if we were there. They may have never voiced it then, but they didn't have to; it was written all over their faces.

I went to parent-teacher conferences, sat with guidance counselors, principals, teacher's aids and whomever else I needed to speak to so I would have a clear understanding of how my kids were doing in school, both academically and socially. This was done quietly, and unless there was an issue, my kids never knew it. We were lucky enough to have an excellent school system that encouraged parents to ask questions and get involved. I volunteered for the school store once a month because it made them feel special to see their mom up there selling peanut butter crackers. One hour a month -- so little time for such a great return.

I strongly believe in encouraging your children to follow their dreams. Remember, it's their life, not yours. They need to be happy in whatever they do.

I will say this: You are there to advise them, and you need to step back and let them make their own decisions, good or bad. Obviously, if it's a life-threatening decision you need to step in. I'm talking about simple life decisions that you make every day. If they succeed, commend them, tell them how proud you are of them. If they fail, listen to them and show them where they went wrong in a positive way. Be their safety net and show them that they need to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again.

Al and I were very involved in our children's lives -- we still are. We talked to them about everything and made them understand that there was no problem too big or too small that should prohibit them from coming to us for help or advice. Communication is everything! Listen to your children, and don't bark at them; talk to them!

Remember what I said about nurturing the seed into a mighty oak? From sunlight to storms, it takes sacrifice, heartache, failure, success, jubilation, laughter, tears, hugs, kisses, commitment and love, love, love. Combine everything and one day you will be looking at a strong, well-adjusted adult ready to take on the world and wonder where the time went when you first met that little person so many years before. Trust me, I'm there, I know the feeling. It's absolutely priceless.

Look at your children. Are they well-adjusted, respectful, happy kids? If the answer is yes, then keep on keeping on, Tami; you're on the right path!

Do you have a question for Caroline?

Send it to CarolineRulesOnGlo@gmail.com and it may be selected for an upcoming column!

  • From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!

    Photo by Michael T. Greco
Caroline Rules
Am I Over-Mothering?
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