By ADAM ARMOUR
As far as Lisa Lindsey knows, there’s no secret to being a good parent … no field guide or pamphlet or whispered dogma that dictates “do this to raise children correctly.”
Parenting just doesn’t work that way.
“You can have a child, but you can’t always be the best parent,” Lindsey said, speaking generally. The Mantachie resident and Itawamba County School District’s Parent of the Year said the best a parent … any parent … can do is show their children love and support. Make them No. 1, she said.
Even then, nothing ever comes easy. The parent of two children — Jonathan Whitt, 27, and Alivia Lindsey, 8 — Lindsey said there’s always some new surprise around the corner, some new hill to climb or obstacle to overcome. Being a parent involves keeping a lot of plates spinning at once; it’s definitely a balancing act.
It’s also one she very, very much enjoys.
“I love all of it,” she said of being a parent. “I love seeing the smiles on their faces when they do something they’re proud of.”
While it’s safe to say her son largely takes care of himself at this point, eight-year-old Alivia — a third-grader at Mantachie Elementary School — is always close at hand. No, really: Lindsey works at the school as a nurse, so her daughter is only a few hundred feet away at any given time.
Lindsey said Alivia likes having her mother nearby.
“Oh, she knows when I’m not here,” Lindsey said. When it was jokingly suggested that her daughter might be a bit overbearing, Lindsey laughed.
“No, not at all,” she said. “It makes me happy to know that I’m missed when I’m not around.”
Lindsey described her daughter as outgoing and independent. Alivia loves gymnastics and shows a strong inclination toward music — in particular, singing — which her mother encourages.
When asked to describe her parenting style, Lindsey grinned.
“I’m definitely a strict parent,” she said. “I push Alivia.”
Pushing, Lindsey asserted, is a form of encouragement. Alivia, and Jonathan before her, is encouraged to be herself and pursue her interests But if she’s going to try something, it’s not going to be a half-hearted attempt, Lindsey said.
Still, finding that right mixture of encouragement, discipline and support is tricky. There’s a fine line between being just strict enough and too strict.
“You try to be constructive without being overbearing,” Lindsey said. “You also want to be loving and supportive.”
Part of being loving and supportive, Lindsey said, is also being involved. Lindsey serves as the PTO’s treasurer and secretary and is always willing to take Alivia to after-school functions. Along with her husband, Brad, she also spends family time with her daughter.
“When we have supper, we have supper as a family,” Lindsey said. “It’s important to come together and reflect on each others’ day. Our time together is very important.”
So, what makes Lindsey the county’s “parent of the year?” She honestly doesn’t know.
“It was such a shock,” she said. “To be a parent is awesome; to be called the ‘top dog parent,’ — to be told what you’ve done is special — that’s humbling. It caught me off guard.”
Surely, though, there must be some secret — something Lindsey’s caught on to that others may have missed.
Nope … at least, not according to her.
“Every child and every parent is different,” she said. “You just have to show patience, love, caring and compassion … Those things are important for everybody.”
Oops … it seems she may have let the secret slip after all.