Be A Great Parent. Keep It Simple.

Ray Galloway By Ray Galloway, 4th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Kids

Parenting is hard work, but it doesn't have to be complicated. Here are some ideas on how to be a great parent by keeping it simple.

Where Are You?

It helps to know where you are. What I mean is that you need to recognize the differences between parenting a newborn and parenting a teenager. Obviously, the details involved in taking care of children vary, depending on age, sex, interests, etc. But surprisingly, there are some elements that transcend all of these, and if you want to be a great parent, then these are among the indispensibles.

Love Your Child

I know. Seems obvious doesn't it? Still, one of the hardest things to do is to love another human being. Sure, a mother's love sometimes just seems to happen and can't be explained. Fathers can have a more difficult time loving like they should. Men frequently have never been on the receiving end of the kind of love that helps a child thrive, so they don't know what to do, or how to do it.

Babies can scare you. They look so fragile. They are so helpless, so needy. But it doesn't take long to discover that babies come into the world predisposed to selfishness. It's not really their fault. They have to be. As far as they are concerned, the whole world exists to care for them. Thay have neither the knowledge, the skills, even the physical ability to do much at all. If they're hungry they cry. Wet or soiled, they cry. Too hot or too cold. Yes, they cry about that too. Eat too fast and get a gas or air bubble? You got it. More crying. Maybe they just want to get your attention. More crying. By now, if you're not tired of the crying, you soon will be. And it will work on your relationship. But the news is worse. That little baby is a quick study. They learn how to get their way, and if you aren't careful, that tiny baby can rule the household!

As they get older, they push your buttons and their own limits. It's how they learn. They make messes and break things. They defy you and then grin at you and melt your heart. Add all these things together, and you'll see that loving a child can be work!

Make no mistake. Loving your child is perhaps the single best thing you can do for them. Loving them doesn't mean that you give them everything they want, or allow them to behave in unacceptable ways. If you love them, you will also discipline them, for discipline helps them learn how to develop self control, how to relate to others, and how to live productively.

Loving a child is a commitment to them. It's choosing to be there for them, to cherish and value them, and to make them feel secure and appreciated. This love is more than just "feel-good" emotions. Love is doing things that build them up.

If you don't know what love is, or how to love, do yourself and your child a huge favor. Go read some books on love, seek out the advice of somebody older who is known as a loving person, or pay attention to how others love their children. You won't agree, or even like, everything you see or hear, but you can learn to love. Start here.

Be There

All the love in the world is a bag of empty promises if you aren't present in your child's life. You have to be there. You must spend time with them, do things together, talk, read or tell stories, point out things you want them to learn, and go places together. Some people assume that if they tell their child they love them, and if they provide for physical needs, then that's all it takes. Wrong! After love, being present throughout your child's life is vitally important.

Involvement builds trust. If you make promises to your child, even seemingly small ones, be sure to follow through. Do not form the habit of making promises and then changing your plans. This is especially true with promises that require your presence. If you say, "We'll go to the park on Saturday," then on Saturday, be sure to go to the park. If you suddenly change your mind, your child may not say anything, but he or she will feel the loss of your presence.

Be there for the special occasions. Don't miss birthdays, and don't think you can make it up by giving lavish gifts. Holidays are important, as are the milestones in your child's life. Be at the school play, the ball games, the pageants, and more. There is no better way to say to a child that he or she is important than to be there for them and with them.

Talk About Everything

Start talking as soon as your baby is born. Talk to them about everything. Talk before they understand. Explain what you're doing. Tell them why one thing is good and another isn't. Describe things as you drive down the road. Ask them questions, and allow them to ask you whatever they want. Never get frustrated at the "why" questions children can bombard you with.

Starting early is the key to having conversations during the difficult stages of life. If you never talk to your young child, why expect your teenager to suddenly find you interesting? By setting the precedent early, you create something you'll be pleased with later on. When confronted by the dangerous, the challenging, even the disquieting issues of life, you child will likely still talk with you if you've got that long history behind you.

Set A Positive Example

There will be days when you doubt this next statement, but it will still be true. Parents are among the most influential people your child will ever know. In other words, it matters what they see in you.

You will lay the foundation for your child's sense of right and wrong. Your example will go a long way to forming their attitudes about life, people, work, education, religion, even citizenship. What is important to you will likely be important to them, and what doesn't matter much to you, won't matter much to them either. There is a reason so many people realize later on in life that they are a lot like their parents.

If you want your child to be honest, then be that example. If you want them to work hard, let them see you put in the effort. If you want them to cheat and take shortcuts to success, then do that. What they see in you will very likely be the things they practice in their own lives. Your example is a powerful, life-shaping force.

Take The Long Range View

It's easy to get wrapped up in today's problem or trouble. The reason this is important is because it's the rare child who avoids all forms of distressing behaviors. Very likely, your child will create problems and discover trouble.

When that happens, parents can become frantic. It's understandable, but don't give in to short-sighted despair. Children make mistakes. They choose the wrong friends, and involve themselves in damaging behaviors. Sometimes, that trouble can send their lives down roads filled with heartache and pain. It's not uncommon for parents to become frustrated, to have no idea about how to help their child, or what to do tomorrow.

Take a long range view of life. What I mean is this. If you only take the short range view of things, you will always be stuck in today's crisis. While you certainly must deal with today's crisis, it's very possible that further down the road, today's crisis will have passed, and may not even be an issue. Essentially, I'm talking about the idea of hope. Every family needs hope when things are bad. If today your child is a disappointment, take the long range view. Hope gives you and your child the time necessary to change and heal.

Help Your Child Discover Life's Wonder

One of your biggest jobs as a parent is to epose your child to as many of life's wonders as possible. You want them to see and experience as many of the great things in life as you can put before them. While you don't want to force things on them that they don't want to do, at least give them a chance.

Show them the beautiful, marvelous things in the world. That includes natural and man-made things. Encourage them to listen to a wide variety of music, show them art, and then let them try their own hand. Encourage them to participate in sports, fill the house with books and encourage them to read. Use the Internet to explore things far beyond your reach. Let you children watch old movies, the ones that actually tell a story. Give free expression to emotions, especially those that deepen human connections.

The point of helping them discover life's wonders is to help them find the things that they can sink their teeth into, things that create deep interest and desire. This is how you can help them discover their own life's work, develop charitable concerns, and enjoy things that provide zest for living.

A Closing Thought

Being a great parent isn't about doing everything perfectly. You will make mistakes along the way. You will find plenty of opportunities to apologize, even ask your child's forgiveness. Give them something to imitate in these things too.

Show them what to do when you're wrong. Prove to them that it's good to admit one's faults and failings. Help them see that denial is no way to resolve one's mistakes.

You cannot pour your child into a mold and force them to be what you want them to be. You can give them every opportunity you can to be what's possible for them to be. Give them emotional and physical security. Open as many of life's doors for them as possible. Imbue them with confidence, and skills to manage life's problems.

Keep it as simple as possible, and you can be a great parent.

Tags

Children, Dads, Family, Family Life, Fathers, Home, Kids, Moms, Mothers, Parenting, Parents

Meet the author

author avatar Ray Galloway
Educator, radio speaker, and personal coach. Writes articles on relationships, marriage, and interpersonal communications.

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Comments

author avatar Vartika
4th May 2013 (#)

Nice and simple!
Parenting is a lot of hard work.
It becomes simple because we do it out of love. Anything done for love is easy.

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author avatar Ray Galloway
4th May 2013 (#)

Vartika, you are so right! Love is absolutely the underlying basis for all that a parent does for a child. Excellent observation!

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