The Parents Guide For Responsible Parenting
IT’S A TOUGH JOB FOR SURE
Make no mistake about it, parenting is a tough gig! No matter how many parenting skills books and articles you read, there will inevitably be a situation as a parent that was not mentioned in all of those guides. You will suddenly feel like the Lone Ranger without Tonto, and you will begin to question whether you are made of the right stuff.
We have all felt that way so relax, take a deep breath, and realize that the bigger picture is much more important than the daily, individual snapshots. Children are shaped and molded by an accumulation of actions on the part of their parents. Sure we may lose our cool and have a bad moment, but for most of us, those are isolated incidences that really have very little consequence.
What we need to concern ourselves with is the bigger picture. We need to lay out a comprehensive plan that teaches our children basic principles and morals that will serve them well for the rest of their lives, and that is our basic job description. It is not the job of the school, and it is not the job of our child’s peers. We signed on for this job and it is our number one priority, or at least it should be.
There are no shortcuts in parenting, and heaven help the parent who is looking for the easier, softer path. Of course it exists, but it also leads to very negative consequences down the road of life.
So what do we do? How do we raise a child to become a productive and highly-functioning member of society?
FROM THE OLD DAYS COME THE ANSWERS
Having reached my sixty-fourth year I have gained a certain perspective about life. There is a clarity that was missing in my youth. I now have the ability to step back and look at the past, compare it to the present, and determine what worked and what failed miserably. Today I will draw on the past to take a look at parenting skills that I believe are crucial in raising a child.
We have seen over the past four or five decades a gradual drifting away from parenting techniques that actually worked quite well. This writer actually blames the decade of the 60’s for this slow slide away from what was working. Since the 60’s we have seen more and more permissiveness, and we have seen a complacency overtake this country, a complacency that did not exist in such great numbers fifty years ago. There seems to be a “take the easy way out” movement in the United States, or what could be called the Path of Least-Resistance, and it has infiltrated the institution of parenting.
I propose to you that many of the parenting skills found before the Sixties were quite sound, and parents would be well-advised to take a closer look at them and consider them in the future.
So, what were those parenting skills so long-forgotten? What are these tips for parents that are valuable and valid no matter which decade we are talking about?
My parents were my teachers
- A Parents Guide: Advice From My Mom and Dad
As our years progress we learn invaluable lessons from parents and family.
MODELING PROPER BEHAVIOR
The old adage “do as I say and not as I do” should be forever banned from the English language. What a bunch of nonsense. Your children will of course do as you do; from their earliest moments they watch you and emulate you and your actions. You are their number one influence during the formative years, and you can bet the farm that they are paying attention to how you live your life.
If you use profane language you can bet they will as well. If you smoke or drink, you are telling them that it is alright to do the same. If you show them the true meaning of compassion they will live that for the rest of their lives, and if you model a healthy loving attitude towards others they will do that as well.
Never underestimate the influence you have on your children. Thus we have the first of the tips for parents: model the behavior you would want your children to model.
ENTITLEMENT IS FOR KINGS AND QUEENS AND NOT FOR CHILDREN
Of course I’m being silly about the king and queen thing, but in no way am I being silly about entitlement for children. We are seeing more and more children today who believe they are entitled to things without having to work for them. What utter nonsense!
Children are entitled to respect as human beings; anything else has to be earned.
Do not give your kids a free pass on this lesson. They need to work for anything that they want, and it is up to you, the parent, to drive this lesson home. Very few things in life are free, and in truth that’s the way it should be. Those things earned are valued much more than those things given. Allow your children to experience the satisfaction of earning their way; it is an experience they will treasure the rest of their lives.
WORKING IS A GOOD THING
Slightly related to the last piece of advice is the idea that children need to learn the value of hard work. At an early age give your child chores to do. Reward them for doing their chores and yes, punish them for not doing their chores. This is the real world, folks, and few people are allowed to float through life with everything given to them. The sooner your child learns this reality the better.
Make the chores age-appropriate, and insist that they be done when they are supposed to be done. Most of us work forty or fifty years during our lifetime. It might be a good idea if kids learn how to work at an early age since they are going to be doing it for most of their lives. This is also a valuable lesson in responsibility, as well as a lesson about being a part of a family, and every member of the family working towards a common goal.
TEACH THEM ABOUT GIVING TO OTHERS
My next piece of advice for parents is to teach your children about social responsibility. Teach them to be giving; teach them to be compassionate of others who are less fortunate. Teach them the true meaning of the word community. Teach them what the words “love one another” truly mean, and make sure you model it yourself.
I am convinced that most bullying would not exist if parents spent a bit more time teaching compassion to their children.
Show them how to do charitable acts of mercy, and I’m not talking about taking two cans of food off of the shelves and driving down to the Food Bank to make a donation. Teach them how to help neighbors; talk to them about how strong communities begin with strong yet caring individuals.
LIMIT THE TIME SPENT WITH ELECTRONIC BABYSITTERS
If the statistics can be believed, the average American child spends multiple hours per day watching television, playing on the computer, and/or playing video games. Toss in the amount of time texting on the cell phone and we have a huge chunk of the day spent becoming more sedentary.
I don’t know any other way to say this….this is unacceptable! Children need to be outside exploring and playing. Children need to be interacting on a face-to-face basis with their peers. Children need to be active physically so they don’t add to the overweight statistics.
In fact, children need to spend time interacting with their families. Whatever happened to family nights? Whatever happened to families eating meals together?
The time that your child spends with electronic gadgetry is time they do not spend with you, and you, the parent, are supposed to be their number one educator about life. It will either be you teaching them about life or it will be Wikipedia. Your choice!
DISCIPLINE AND THEN DISCIPLINE SOME MORE
No, I am not talking about paddling or whipping with a belt, but I am talking about setting boundaries and raising expectations so that your children understand that negative actions have negative consequences.
If a child does something that is unacceptable, or that breaks a household rule, then they need to be punished in an appropriate manner, and that is a non-negotiable point. If that does not happen then your children will have to learn this lesson the hard way, when they are adults, and the consequences are much worse then.
A parent’s job is not to be their child’s best friend. I believe that with every fiber of my being. A parent’s job is to help their child become a highly-functioning, productive and happy human being, and discipline is an important tool in achieving that goal.
BE THE INSTRUMENT OF EDUCATION
The greatest educator in a child’s life is their parent. You, the parent, are the number one source of information. You are the person who can instill a love of learning in your child. You can instill a wonderment about life. You can teach them the importance of learning.
If not you then who will do that? The teachers? Yes, there are some good teachers out there, but have you checked out the state of the educational system of late? Do you want to count on an under-funded system to teach your children all that they need to know?
Perhaps you do want to leave it to the schools. If that is the case then you owe it to your child to be their number one advocate in school. Make sure they are being taught properly. Make sure that they are being encouraged to excel at school.
I have nothing against home-schooling, just as I have nothing against sending your child to a charter school or a public school. Good educations can be had no matter which route you take, but once you have committed on that route then make sure everything is being done to provide your child with the education that they deserve.
DO ALL THINGS WITH LOVE
This last suggestion cannot be overemphasized enough. A great many wrongs can be righted if you show your children love. The strongest force in a child’s life is the love of a parent. You can take away the possessions and the fancy home and the big car and the high-cost private school. You can dress your kid in rags and buy your food with Food Stamps, and none of it will matter if your child knows that they are loved.
Model love in your homes. Show your child what loving behavior looks like. Hug them, speak to them, exhibit healthy emotions for them, and allow them to grow up knowing that love is the most important thing in life. If you do that you will have given them the greatest gift possible.
END OF THE LESSONS FOR TODAY
There is more I could say but I need to go call my son and tell him that I love him. He is 28 years old now, and quite frankly he is the joy of my life. He still hugs me….he still tells me that he loves me….and he knows that as long as I am alive he will always have a safe harbor where he can find love and acceptance.
This lesson is over! Go give your kids a hug and begin the lessons at home.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)