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10 parenting payouts

POSTED: June 23, 2014 12:00 p.m.
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Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be.

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The fruits or parenting are long-bearing, tortuously so at times. When you're in the midst of raising kids, the rewards seem few and far between, and the greatest blessings of raising children often come years, or even decades, after they've grown and left. Don't lose hope in the middle of the journey. Parenthood comes with miraculous moments, no matter how old or young your kids are. The next time you need a parental pick-me-up, think about these ten awesome payouts of parenthood.

1. Your child gains independence. 
Every first step, first word, first day of school, and first step towards greater independence is positive proof that you're doing your job right. These moments can feel bittersweet at the time, with your child moving away from you and into the world. However, the mark of a good parent is a self-sufficient child.

2. Big hugs. Sloppy kisses. 
There's nothing in the world sweeter, or more gooey, than a big kiss from a toddler. Little kids are light on verbal appreciation, but they are great at giving physical affection. Enjoy the warm snuggles while they last.

3. I want to be just like mommy. 
Kids in early elementary school often try to emulate their parents, and there is no higher compliment from a little kid. Whether your child wants to be you when he grows up or marry you when she gets bigger, take it as a huge sign of love and admiration.

4. Confiding in you. 
As kids age, they'll start coming to you less and less with their problems. When your tween or teen seeks you out to confide in you, you are doing something very right as a parent. Enjoy these precious moments by listening with an open mind.

5. Choosing a good circle of friends. 
Eventually it happens to even the best of parents. Your child will choose friends over family, whether you're ready for it or not. The best you can hope for is that your child surrounds herself with a good group of friends. When you see your child choosing positive peers, recognize that it's a result of your influence.

6. Showing empathy and compassion for others. 
Kids come into this world completely self-centered, and for very good reason. Newborns are entirely dependent upon you. As kids grow, they slowly learn empathy for others because of your example. Teens showing generosity towards others is a marker of your positive parenting.

7. Choosing family time. 
Anytime your older children choose you over their friends, cherish the time together. This togetherness might not come as often as you would wish, but it will come.

8. Leaving home. 
This milestone is the greatest double-edged sword of parenting. As much as it hurts to see them go, releasing competent, confident adults into the world is the goal of parenting. When your kids feel ready to leave your nest, know that you are reaping the rewards of dedicated parenting.

9. Expressed gratitude. 
The time will come, when the kids are older, wiser, and more mature, that they will thank you for your love throughout the years. Hopefully this payoff comes before the kids leave home, but if you find yourself still waiting years after they've left, rest assured that it will come.

10. Grandchildren. 
Nothing says successful parenting like being rewarded with grandchildren! Only the best parents get promoted to grandparent.
Parenthood, especially young parenthood, feels like a thankless task many days. The world does not recognize the contribution parents make, and children themselves are not the best at expressing their appreciation for a hard job well done. Keep your eyes open for the little moments each day that make parenting worth the hassle, and look forward to the more long-bearing payoffs of parenthood that are surely coming your way.

Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan, mom to two crazy boys, and wife to one amazing husband.

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