I am a parent and I know that parents have this belief that they will always be in their kids’ lives. We never imagine a time we will no longer be around. This is a mentality that we need to deliberately break away from otherwise we will incapacitate our children and make them dependent on us, which will block them from living successful lives.
I know that it is not easy to watch as your children make choices in life that you do not approve of, but remember that when you plant a seed in the ground and it germinates, your work is to nurture and protect it so that it realizes its full potential. It is not your work to control and stop it from growing to what it was meant to be.
Begin With The End In Mind: Independence
Nothing frustrates parents as having adult children who are not able to live independent lives. What makes some children remain dependent on their parents way into their 20s, 30s, 40s? Why do some individuals lack the self-confidence to take charge of their lives? Howo you want your children to grow up to become independent or to forever remain dependent on you?
It is very tempting to adopt an authoritarian style of parenting because it saves us the hard work of molding the character of our kids. You demand that your children must do 1,2,3 because you said so; zero dialogue, zero listening to them.
You want to ground your child to become like a tree that grows big and provides shade and fruits season after season, for generations.
When the seedling of a tree is young, it is totally dependent on you. You water it every day, add fertilizer, protect it from the hot sun and harsh weather conditions. So is it with a baby; totally helpless and dependent on the parent for everything.
As a tree grows and matures, it no longer needs someone to water it or protect it from the elements. Its roots run deep and so it can access water from deep down in the ground during dry spells.
In the same way, nurture your baby and provide everything he needs when he is little and helpless. But adapt to the growth of your baby.
Set boundaries in order to keep your child safe but don’t take over his life. Do not try to make him like yourself.
Try as much as possible to give your kids space to grow and develop without forcing them to act a different age or development stage from what they really are.
We parents love our children so much we want to shield them from any painful experiences. But life is never smooth for anyone and we all face challenges and disappointments in life. Life comes to us without a syllabus and we have to learn to navigate through it.
We learn by doing so don’t deny him valuable life experiences by solving everything for him. Should you do that, you will be a very frustrated parent in your later years as your adult child will bring each and every challenge to you at a time when he should be living an independent life and you no longer have the energy to parent him.
Loving your children means training them to survive in this world whether you are there or not.
Enforce discipline from a young age. Have reward and punishment aspects in your discipline.
What exactly does that sort of parenting do to the growing child? He learns that making mistakes in life is wrong (yet everyone makes them and learns from them).
Parents really get frustrated when their children turn out that way yet in most cases that character was shaped from a very young age.
Your Child is Not An Extension Of You
I see many unfortunate cases where parents force their own beliefs and value systems on their children. I do not like certain colours or fashions so I force my children to live by my value systems. I adhere to certain religious beliefs so my children must adhere to the same.
Yes, as a parent you have your tastes and preferences but your children are not an extension of you. They too have their tastes and preferences.
Listen to your children. Give them direction without taking over their lives. explain things. Ask questions and encourage dialogue.
How many parents are forever crying because their children have grown up to become dysfunctional yet they were feeling like some sort of gods when those children were young because the children feared them and trembled whenever they (the parents) spoke?
Train your children and nurture them to maturity. Don’t control them. Teach them and instill the right values in them, not by being dictatorial and ruling them by fear but by nurturing them, permitting them to question things and taking time to explain. Don’t threaten and silence children when they question things.
We are living in dangerous times where there is all manner of wrong influences all over the place ranging from the Internet, TV, peer pressure, drug traffickers, criminals and everything else.
Each one of us has what matters to us most. There are people who value excelling in academics while others value sports. It all depends on our own value systems.
Will it be worth it to live with a destroyed child all your life simply because what is important to him is not what is important to you?
Appreciate diversity and learn to give room to whatever different gifts your children bring into your home. At the end of the day, both will remain your children and one damaged child can take away your peace, even lead you to an early grave. Learn to appreciate and encourage diversity.
Your child is looking for a hero; be your child’s hero. Model appropriate behavior rather than training your children to become hypocrites by preaching water while drinking wine.
Be very careful how you treat your spouse. Respect him/her and apologize when you are wrong. Do not control and destroy your spouse but respect and appreciate differences, unless it is completely wrong and unacceptable such as a parent who introduces a young child to unacceptable behavior such as smoking or drinking alcoholic drinks.
Build the self-confidence of your children. Praise and reinforce good behavior rather than putting too much emphasis on what they get wrong.
Don’t overlook or ignore bad behavior from your children. If your child treats his sibling or a neighbor’s child with disrespect, handle it promptly.
We are living in a day when parents are busy and they cannot always be with their children. Parents often leave their children with someone else as they go to work or travel away from home. What do you do about this situation?
Don’t hesitate to change a minder who is not good for your child. For example, you get a nanny who shouts at your young child, calls him names, wounds his young spirit; have no apologies to make for replacing that nanny. Your child is far too important to you to be destroyed in the name of keeping a nanny.
What if you have to leave your children under the care of someone else for any period of time, be it a family friend, your parents, siblings or someone else?
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter; life coach, personal development mentor, motivational speaker, freelancer and blogger.