by Jennifer Shakeel
This week I thought it was important to focus more on the parents and less on the children. This is due in large part to a few visits we have had recently with some of our friends. Parents, in general, will fall into one of three categories: parents, friends, acquaintances. These categories are based on observations I have made. Once I define them I am sure that you will at least acknowledge what I am saying to be true.
I will start with the parents that fall into the acquaintance category. These are the parents who have no idea who their children are, where they are or what they are doing. They show a lack of interest in not only the children, but even in attempting to parent them.
Then there are the parents that fall into the friends category. We all know parents that fall into this group. These parents are would rather be their child’s best friend then their parent. They worry more about being cool, and not making their kids mad at them then making sure they are raising responsible adults.
Then there are the parents that fall into the parent category. These are the parents that realize their children need parents, they have enough friends. They discipline their children, teach them right from wrong and don’t really care if their child gets mad at them. Trust me when I say that the last thing in the world they are worried about is being the “cool” mom or dad. They want their children to come to them, feel as though they can talk to them about anything but respect boundaries.
Needless to say, the tips this week all deal with becoming a better parent, improving parenting skills, and making sure that you aren’t just another friend or a person they would walk by on the street.
Tip 1: Talk to them not At Them
When you are speaking to your child/children make sure that you are actually talking to them. Make eye contact. Pause and let them interject when they want. Carrying on a conversation, don’t yell at them, don’t demean them. Would you listen to someone that was yelling at you and ignoring the fact that you are a human being?
Tip 2: Listen to them Actively
Going right along with talking to your children is listening to them. I mean actively listening to them. Again you need to make eye contact with them when they are talking. Show them that you are interested in what it is they have to say. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t multi task, stop what you are doing and give them your attention. Remember children learn though observation. They are going to mimic the behavior that they witness.
Tip 3: Get Involved
Take part in what your child has going on at school or in sports. DON’T live vicariously through them, but take an active part in their lives. Go to their games or performances. Talk to them about what is going on in school, how their grades are, what their favorite subjects are is there a project that they are working on.
Tip 4: Know Their Friends
Our children are not allowed to go anywhere with friends that we have not met and whose parents we have not met. We want to know who they are spending their time with and if we don’t approve we let our children know that we would like them to think about the type of people they are associating with.
Ok, before you get mad and start sending hate mail, listen to me. We all know that there are children that make bad decisions in life. They are constantly in trouble and really don’t care that they are in trouble. We all remember being in middle school and high school and we all know that there is guilt by association. We simple encourage our children to be aware of the actions of their friends as well as their own actions. We also don’t want our children to be bullied, and we have explained to our children that friends don’t walk all over you, or ask you to do things that you feel are wrong.
Tip 5: Include them In Your Life
Don’t keep your children at an arm’s length away. Let them see you with your friends. Talk to them about what you have going on at work. Give them a reason to look up to you, to want to talk to you… include them.
Tip 6: Give Them the Right to Present Their Case, but Don’t Just Give In
My dad used to give us an opportunity to present our case if we disagreed with him telling us “no” when we wanted to do something. He did this for two reasons, one to see how bad we wanted it and how bad we were willing to fight for it, but also to see what our reasoning skills were like. Now, if we presented a good argument then he would allow us to do what it was we wanted. Now, this happened rarely but it did happen. And it led to a lot of very good conversation between us and our dad. My husband and I do the same.
So when we tell them no, they are not allowed to ask us why. What they are allowed to do is present their case to us and we will talk it out.
Tip 7: Follow the Best of the Examples You Had Growing Up I don’t care if it was your parent, or a parent of a friend or a parent on television. Somewhere in your life you knew or saw a parent that made you think, “That is the kind of parent I want to be.” It may be the dad that played ball with his son and you. It may be the mom that taught her daughter how to bake cookies. It could be the parents that would sit there and talk to their child and listen to what it was they had to say.
It doesn’t matter, take the best of what you experienced and use that to parent your kids. They really don’t need you to be their friend. They really do have enough friends. The best thing in the world that you can do for your children is to be their parent.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience. As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!
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