All of us parents have heard at one time or another, from our parents and grandparents and many others, advice on how to raise our children. We hear them say, “No child of mine would say that” and “Kids nowadays are awful and so undisciplined” and many more suggestions that we as parents have lost our hold on our children.
As a parent, I defend myself and all parents when I say, “Wake up everyone, times have changed, the world has changed and so has the access to information on how to raise our children with love, understanding, guidence and compassion.”
To guide or mold children – what is the difference?
When we become parents, we immediately start to dream of how we would like to be the best parents we can be and how we would like our children to be. Over time we realize that these dreams are just that – dreams. We suffer failures, confusion, fear and frequent bouts of anger at ourselves and the world for how hard it is to be parents.
We want to teach our children what we perceive as the good lessons and learning from our own childhoods, what we read and see from others, and the millions of “good parenting” examples we are faced with every day. We slowly realize that our children are all unique and no set of rules or parenting methods work for each child. Still, we want to mold our children from what we know and see, into the children we want them to be. This is simply not going to happen. One of the hardest lessons to learn and follow is that children need to be guided safely, smartly and with love through their lives to become the strong, confident, knowledgeable, communicative, wonderful people that they are.
How important is communication and choices for our children?
Deciding to guide your children from birth through life is a wonderful decision to make and also one of the most difficult. Acceptance is a great way to start. Accept your children for who they are, as unique, special people with their own personalities, likes, dislikes, wants and needs.
Giving them the room to be who they are is, step two. We give our children room to be who they are by allowing them to feel and communicate safely – whether they are infants who need to be held as they cry for hours, toddlers who need to scream and yell when they are told no, school-age children who stamp their feet when they can’t have cake for supper or teens who slam their bedroom doors when they are not able to sleep over for night number three. People of all ages need to feel safe to communicate and express themselves in safe environments with the proper tools for communicating their thoughts and beliefs.
Step three is giving choices. For children to grow and learn they must be able to make decisions within safe boundries, based on their thoughts and feelings. When children are able to make choices as young as day one, they feel important, intelligent, appreciated, empowered and heard. Choices encourage children to learn, to communicate and to get to know themselves as individuals.
How do I know if I am doing the right things for my child?
There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. You do the best for your child when you raise your child with love and exhaust all resources to do the absolute best you can. Think of these statements when you are questioning yourself as a parent (as we all do from time to time).
- You will know you are doing the best you can when you child is able to express his/her feelings safely and be validated for them.
- When your child has the option of making structured choices about his/her wants, needs, likes, dislikes and life.
- When your child feels safe to talk about those feelings and choices.
- When your child grows to have his/her own control over anger, disappointments and failures.
- When your child takes pride in successes, triumphs, and even small accomplishments.
- When your child has confidence in himself/herself and acceptance of his/her weaknesses.
- When your child is comfortable to challenge himself/herself and face obstacles.
- When your child shows kindness, compassion, understanding and love for others.
We want to do what is best for our children and our children want us too!
Those are just a few of the wonderful ways that show we are great parents. Like our children, we are learning everyday. Stay open to the changing world. The challenges we ourselves and our children face every day will keep us ready to evolve with the times; help us learn the ways to be true to ourselves and our children; and guide our children through life to be who they are meant to be.