I got a pleasant surprise today when a distant cousin sent me some old photos and scans. One family member who is well known to me from stories but I didn’t ever meet her – my Great Auntie Mary. She was born in 1892 and died in 1994.
There exist many cliches about writing. My favourite is “if you want to write, then write today”. Another one I see often is “write about what you know”. Today I will do a precis version of what I know about being a parent. I admit that I could have done a better job (as a parent) on reflection.
Are you ready?
- If you have children, make sure they always know you love them unconditionally.
- Spend quality time with your children
- Create happy times that will become happy memories (not just for the kids but for all you encounter)
- Feed them properly – meat and vegies and lots of fruit. Don’t let them live on two minute noodles!
- Teach them how to cook something more adventurous than spaghetti bolognaise.
- Do your best to avoid having to choose between your children and your partner/husband. Partners can come and go but your children are your children for ever. (apologies to husbands and partners here – I hope you understand what I mean)
- Make sure they have nice clothes to wear – especially on the day the photographer is at school. Those photos will be around a while to remind you if you forget!
- Accept that sometimes you won’t be able to figure out what is going on in their heads (let’s make that most of the time)
- If you move house, remember to tell them.
- Don’t forget your child is asleep in your friend’s bedroom. They will always remind you of the time you went home without them – oops!
- Maintain contact with the extended families of both parents. Even though they may be a long way away, today it is so easy to keep in touch via Facebook and emails etc. Do this even if there is a split up in the family. They are still your kids’ uncles, aunties and cousins.
- Try to teach them resilience – it is hard to do if you don’t feel that way yourself. Maybe learn it first and then teach them – it is a really important characteristic for a successful life.
- Encourage them to love nature. This is a precious gift and to be greatly valued throughout life.
- Accept that they carry your genes and there is nothing you can do about it – sometimes it can be something to celebrate!
- Encourage them to have diverse friends from different cultures as they can learn a lot from others’ differences.
- Encourage them to have some interest in politics and to believe that they are not powerless to the system and CAN make a difference.
- Teach them to be nice to each other. I used to say ” a lot of people in the world who may be unkind to your brother, it is your job to be kind to him” – something along those lines.
- Remember they are more likely to copy what you do and not what you say.
- Encourage a sense of adventure and curiosity.
- And then…make sure they always know you love them unconditionally.
Until next time
- Teaching Kids the Importance of Gratitude (everydayhealth.com)
- Chores | Information Center | Education.com (education.com)
What a wonderful world it could be if all children knew and experienced the following traits from their parents, extended families and schools:
1. Know they are loved just as they are – it is not about what they are good at, but just because they ARE.
2. Resilient – life can throw lots of things in their paths and they need to be able to bounce bank every time.
3. Respect others and know respect in return. This can be as simple and as commitment to treat others as they like to be treated.
4. Self assurance – the ability to believe in themselves and engage fully in what life has to offer.
5. Confidence – the ability to speak up and express themselves in all sorts of circumstances. They need to know that their contribution is welcome and valuable.
6. Courage – to know fear but to be able to overcome it. Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to act in spite of it.
7. Compassion – sensitivity to care for others when they are hurting or suffering in some way. Compassion for themselves is just as important.
8. Sense of humour – this is so important, the ability to laugh at something funny; to laugh at one-self; and see the lighter side of all situations.
9. The appreciation of beauty – the ability to be touched by the beauty in nature; in art; in music; in writing; and in people.
10. Appreciation of the ordinary – so often the ordinary is taken for granted. It is only when it is taken away from us that we realise how important it is.
11. A fascination and open-mindedness about science and spirituality and always willing to learn new ideas and experiences.
12. Inner strength – the ability to make commitments or decisions and to go the distance. This inner strength may also be called on to recognise a different path and to turn around and start afresh without giving in to discouragement.
Many of these characteristics overlap, I know, but it is good to look at each on its own and appreciate their importance in the developing child.
When I was at school there wasn’t much emphasis on learning these character traits. For me, I believe that one of the most important traits is resilience. Which ones do you think are most important. I would love to hear your ideas on this.