In this modern age where everything is done at full throttle, like a space rocket taking off at 28,968 kilometres per hour (18,000 miles per hour) with Tim Peake and crew at the controls, parenting becomes dictatorial, without much thought for establishing an open and free-flowing relationship with our kids.
Although I place myself in this modern age of life and parenting, every so often I find myself asking why I am delivering all the instructions to my kids and not allowing them to be heard on a regular basis. And it simply comes down to time and to learning the parenting game on the job. I am happy to say that I am a modern day ND and open to any material that can help me be a better parent. In my daily rummage of material to improve me as a parent, I came across two articles that articulate what your child deserves; five fantastic points based on Time, Openness, Structure, Forgiveness and Past Baggage.
- Time: Not leftover time at the end of the day, but prioritised time. If your life is ruled by a schedule and your children aren't on it, do something quickly. Otherwise there'll come a day when you're not included in their schedule. Simply watching television together for three hours won't cut it; you must be 'emotionally present'. Sometimes that means letting them see your fears and insecurities, even as they witness your delight and appreciation of them.
- Openness: There's so much our children can teach us about themselves and about ourselves. Once we realise we don't have all the answers, we must become open to allowing our children to speak to us. That kind of receptivity strengthens their faith, helps them remain teachable, and also keeps us young at heart.
- Structure: It's vital, during the formative years, to establish rules and maintain boundaries. Children need guidelines and a framework to feel secure. In the early years this includes things like having an established bedtime, then moving it back as they get older. This helps them understand that age brings freedom, but not all at once, because freedom brings responsibility and they're not as ready to handle it as they think. Don't try to be your child's best friend, or look to them to meet your emotional needs. Their shoulders aren't broad enough to carry that load. Seek outside encouragement from healthy sources. In short, strive to become the firm, gentle parent your child deserves.
- Forgiveness: Forgive them, and be willing to ask for their forgiveness. By doing this you're teaching them that: a) We must all deal with the consequences of our actions. And that when we do, we grow. b) Failing doesn't make you a failure; it's just part of learning and maturing. It comes with the turf. c) We should be quick to extend to others the same grace that has so often been extended to us.
- Separate the Baggage: One man became anxious and depressed as his son approached his twelfth birthday. Shortly after the boy's birthday party, the father was thumbing through a photo album from his own childhood. That's when it dawned on him that he was twelve when his father abandoned the family and then killed himself. Watching his son approach the same age made him afraid because it reopened old wounds, unhealed ones. A caring counsellor helped him regain his perspective and peace by helping him realise he was a very different man from his father, and he wasn't about to abandon his family.