Our parental eyes are the first through which our children view themselves. How we see, judge and treat them, shape the foundation for how they will see, judge and treat themselves. They are a “we” with us before they become an independent “I” with a separate identity and sense of self.
Parents often see their children as possessions and try to mould them into little versions of themselves. They are often required to live up to unfulfilled parental dreams. This is wrong. Each child is a unique individual with talents and dreams which may turn out to be entirely different from their parents. In “The Prophet” Kahlil Gibran says that our children don’t belong to us, they belong to a future of which we can never be part. We are but the bow from which the arrow is set forth.
We as parents serve as their models of how to be human, how to be men or women respectively, marital partners, parents, employees, citizens etc. How we conduct ourselves could shape their future in significant ways and even determine whether they wilt or flourish.
They also do as we do rather than what we say. It is therefore key for us as parents to never take our eye off the ball of parenting and measure our conduct for soundness by asking ourselves whether we are “getting it right?” A few non – negotiable parental skills are the following:
- Be sure to shower them with physical displays of affection, encouragement, and affirmation rather than waiting to only praise them when they achieve. They should not learn that they are only “loveable” when they perform exceptionally well.
- Give them the opportunity to express their emotions freely and take them seriously. Show them that their emotions are important and how to deal with them in appropriate ways.
- Familiarize yourself with their world; their interests and their opinions. Do not judge but listen with care; the purpose being to understand and show respect to them.
- Never compare them with siblings or other children.
- Be sensitive to how they experience you. They need to feel free to express their concerns where necessary without being criticized and judged.
- Provide time for them to play and explore rather than falling into the trap of overscheduling. Children learn through play.
- Aim to keep your home a sanctuary full of peace, calm and serenity. Do not let arguments get out of hand. Solve conflicts in appropriate and non-threatening ways.
- Do not hesitate to seek professional help if you need assistance with parenting.