What is a parent’s role in a child’s life?
There is a lot that can be said, but I came across this brief version I had jotted down years ago and thought I would share.
Parenting is hard, and we are all raising our children differently. These pointers are just some things I learnt over the years, and still learning as we apply them raising our children. I ask myself these questions on a daily basis on this journey that has no perfect manual. I am no perfect parent, nobody is, but we are all trying to do our best right?
Once you get a child, you know your reason for living has changed. You are now conscious of being the provider to a little helpless human, till the time they can fend for themselves. How prepared are we for this?
Keep in mind, humans are totally helpless when young, the child cannot provide shelter or feed or cloth itself, it is up to us the parents to do it.
The first seven years are said to be the most critical in setting the foundation for the kind of adult a child will grow to become. How are we fulfilling this provision role to ensure we set a firm and stable standard?
Parenting is not just paying the bills and ensuring the child is fed. Provision of basics is not enough.
Are we available when it comes to our children? Are we easily accessible to them or are they to be neither seen nor heard?
Do we look them in the eye when they speak to us, or are we buried in our phones, laptops and tv screens?
Are we approachable, or do they fear us?
Do we listen to them or just talk at them?
Obviously, boundaries and respect are important, but we should not let them fear to come to us. We are all they have in a cruel world, if they cannot turn to us and trust us, who can they trust?
It is not enough to just provide as a parent, we need to be responsible for and to our children.
How quick are we to respond to their needs? (Including young babies).
I do not mean we should drop everything and centre our lives around them, but we do need to be responsive to their needs and teach them patience too.
When playing and they get frustrated, how do we teach them coping strategies? Do we demean them or do we help them understand that it is normal to get frustrated and anxious at times.
If it is about something they want; talking to them about the difference between wants and needs, will help in this.
I also learnt something the other day about looking for opportunities to say yes to their wants, as per our resources and dependent on what it is they need. “Yes, you can have that toy, but for your birthday, or special occasion”, instead of an outright “No!”
Children learn more by what they see, than what we tell them. Are we responsible human beings in our personal lives?
How can we expect our children to learn responsibility when they see us shirk ours in various ways; Escaping work early, lying to get out of family commitments, e.t.c. They see all this.
Let us lead by example.
We should strive to encourage our children at all times. Through their successes and failures.
It also doesn’t hurt to carefully steer them towards the vision you have for them, and encourage them accordingly.
This is tricky and it is easy to steer them towards our failed dreams; visions we had for ourselves and impose
(read force) them to actualise them. Let us not do that.
Ask them what their vision is, and guide them accordingly, we know our children; their strengths, weaknesses, talents and that they like. That knowledge will inform us on how best to encourage them.
Also let’s not compare our children to others. It is so easy to do this, but let us not. Comparison is the thief of joy. Do not be the one making your child miserable because they are not as good as the Joneses’ seemingly perfect child, or not doing things as well as their sibling. Just don’t. It inflicts wounds that fester inside and damage their self confidence and self worth.
Encouragement and nurturing go hand in hand. As parents we must try to be dream builders not dream crushers.
Is your child talented? Encourage and nurture that talent but! there is a big “but” here – keep in mind they are still children. And we should still let them be children.
Let us take care of them, be protective of what we expose them too.
This is easier said than done, as we might also end up being too protective. It is a delicate balance of allowing them to explore; but still remain within our sights.
As parents, we will drop the ball many times. Let us not be too hard on ourselves. We can strive to not give up, delegate our role or neglect it as the sole providers and nurturers of these precious children, no matter how difficult it will get at times.
We should keep offering direction, guidance, and discipline. We are their first teachers. Language, values, manners, how they talk and how they think, is up to how we train them.
Guiding them through each milestone is not an easy task, and many are the times we will ask ourselves what we signed up for and if we can hack it. We can and will hack this parenting thing but we have to be intentional in steering them the right way.
Leading by example, listening to them, correcting them, teaching them with love and patience the difference between right and wrong.
Training also includes basic body hygiene and how they conduct themselves in private and public. Toilet manners, table manners, making their beds, brushing their teeth, cleaning up after themselves, respecting authority and elders, proper communication. “Excuse me,” “pardon me,” “please,” “thank you,” “you are welcome,” ” sorry”, how to be safe, money sense, and many more.
We are the ones to teach them all this. Not the nanny, not the daycare provider, not the teacher, we the parents are the ones to do this.
There are age appropriate ways we can impart that knowledge to them as well as many teachable moments in our daily lives that we can use to do it.
Parenting is not an easy task, but with knowledge and guidance, and keeping a ‘village’ aka support system around us, that is respectful and shares our values, we will become more confident and feel less alone when navigating this parenting life.
What are some of your best parenting tips? Please share in the comment section.