P. A. R. E. N. T.

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?

1. Provider.

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?

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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.

2. Available.

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?

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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?

3. Responsible.

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.

4. Encourage.

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.

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5. Nurture.

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.

6. Training.

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.

Image Source : Etsy printable picture quotes.

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.

Love,

Wanjoro.

Puppy Love.

My daughter has a lot of affection for one of the dogs. Both kids love all the dogs but there seems to be an extra special bond when it comes to this specific dog. Anatalina is her name and she is a playful and delightful dog that loves human attention.

This girl knows all there is to know about this specific dog. She knows its age, what it likes and is able to tell whether it is feeling good or a bit low. What the different barks and whines mean, even how to calm the dog down sometimes. I have never seen such an intense bond between a child and an animal up close. It is something special to watch.

Growing up, not many people kept indoor pets where we lived. Even now, many people keep dogs as a security measure so they are usually built for kennels outside, and let out at night to deter intruders. Getting the kids indoor pets was not anything we took seriously. Back in Nairobi we lived in a homestead with cows, pigs, rabbits and chickens and they helped out in feeding and caring for them, but we do not have deep emotional attachments as compared to keeping a little chihuahua or pet parrot, nope.

We did have a pair of love birds once some years ago…for a day or two, then they disappeared and no, it was not my fault. LOL! Even cats are out of the question for us. Animals live outside, we live inside, that is my rule and I like it that way.

When we found out we would live with the dogs here, I was obviously apprehensive but the kids and the dogs get along just fine.

Anatalina always barks happily when she senses the kids leaving for school or when they are getting in back later in the day. She has this special whine she lets out that can be really insistent and only calms down when my daughter goes to her side of the garden and pats her down.

My daughter always checks to know when the Vet is coming to check on the dogs and watches him treat the dogs as she asks why they are being given specific meds or vitamins. There is a time she cried when Anatalina was not feeling well, and could not bear to see the dog being injected.

Seeing her interact with the dog has made me learn a few things too, and made me understand a bit on why kids love animals, in this case dogs, so much.

Dogs are known to be loyal, affectionate creatures. Probably why they are known as ‘man’s best friend.’ Dogs offer companionship, loyalty and understanding. No matter how lousy you are feeling, the sight of your dog’s delight to see you will lift your spirits. Dogs are no longer just helping us to keep safe, their presence in our lives has health benefits too. Playing with them, walking with them, stroking them helps keep us active and happy. Dog owners are actually more physically active than people who do not own dogs. If the kids are sad or had a bad day, they will sense it and try to cheer them up.

Dogs are great protectors, they will alert you when something is not right in or around your home. Their behaviour and the sounds they make will let you know of anything suspicious.

Which reminds me, I have a bit of a mystery I have been unable to solve in the neighbour hood. Almost everyone around us keeps dogs and these guys (the dogs, that is), always bark and howl insistently when one of our neighbours drives back in the evening. I do not understand why it is always that specific neighbour. At first it was a bit amusing but it has never stopped, and it has been over a year now since we moved in here. Every night this guy comes home just before 9.00 pm, ALL the dogs in our immediate area howl and bark like crazy for 3-5 minutes. I wonder why?

Anyway, back to why kids love dogs. I have also read that playing with dogs can calm down hyperactive kids, helps kids with special needs, and also teach kids a few skills. By caring for the dogs, the children learn responsibility and commitment. Knowing that there is another living being they care for will also boost their self confidence, teach them kindness and to be trustworthy.

I may have not liked dogs in the past, but I am definitely developing puppy love vibes recently. Watching my kids play with the dogs so gleefully and interact with them so freely, has taught me to also loosen up a bit, let go of my inhibitions a bit and have some fun too. What’s a little dog fur on my clothes in return for doleful eyes watching me, tail wagging crazily as I rub Anatalina behind her ears?

She is also an amazing listener. I can rave and rant and she will lie down and watch me as I vent out all my frustrations. With a few whines thrown in here and there, that I am pretty sure mean she agrees with me. She will watch me exercise or jog in the garden even dance with no judgment at all. And she keeps me company when I cook. Always at the kitchen window trying to keep up with whatever is going on with me. She is obviously begging for some kitchen scrapes but i will go with my delightful company as the reason she is always there. She is such a delightful dog.

George Graham Vest said, “The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world—the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous—is his dog.” Every time I watch how my daughter bonds and plays with Anatalina, I am reminded of how special dogs are. In this crazy world, who would not want a loyal, non judgement and playful companion by their side? Will we get a dog when we leave here? You bet we will.

(You can read on the other dogs’ escapades here and here. )

I will also be back soon with an update once I solve the mystery of the dogs’ reactions to our neighbour. Keep it locked.

Love,

Wanjoro.