Parenting is not a walk in the park. It comes with many challenges and struggles. We lose our patience and sometimes we embitter our children in the process.
Yet they are our most valuable possession and our greatest asset. Unfortunately, how we parent is most likely patterned after our parents. And this generation is totally different from all the others because of culture, the inception of technology and lifestyle. How do we exactly parent this generation?
Here are some insights I recently shared during a talk for 2 schools in Cagayan de Oro, Sacred Heart of Jesus Montessori School and Oro Christian Grace School:
1. As parents, we need to keep learning and being open-minded to grow in our parenting. The values and principles are timeless but the approach to our children is different. We cannot build walls and rule with dominance. We need to build bridges and connect with them.
2. If we expect our children to model a certain behavior, it starts with us. For instance, if you’re always complaining that your kids are hooked on gadgets, it’s because you’re hooked on it first. We have to be the role model. Consistently and untiringly. Children don’t follow what we say. They follow what we do.
3. We allow usage of gadgets (smartphones, tablets, etc.) as a “digital pacifier,” and our children are addicted to it. Unknowingly, it creates the same result as a drug addict, alcoholic, gambler or even a workaholic. Parents need to make a firm decision to firmly decrease the use of or eliminate these technologies (for a certain period of time) and return to traditional means (sports, arts, board games, etc.). Otherwise our children will be anxious, depressed, irate, emotionally number and deteriorate.
4. While it’s true that children struggle with all sorts of things today (i.e. peer pressure, bullying, insecurities, etc.). parents have their struggles too: busyness, wrong paradigms, domestic, marital, financial, single parenting challenges, succession planning and above all, spiritual drought. Our busyness in the climb towards success has made us overlook the hands-on attention and nurturing needed by our children.
Yet they are our most valuable possession and our greatest asset. Unfortunately, how we parent is most likely patterned after our parents.
5. We have issues with our children, but they actually have issues with us. Because sometimes, it’s us who hurt them. How? We play favorites, we compare them with others, we pressure them with higher marks, criticize more than affirm, lecture and not listen to them, buy them stuff to compensate for lost time, we are not congruent in terms of parenting standards with our spouse, and sometimes, our marital fights affects their overall well-being. The worst is hypocrisy when we tell them something we expect that we ourselves are not doing in our own lives. It hurts them and this is what makes them lose respect for us.
6. We learned that building a relationship with our children is key because the closer we are to our children, the more influence we have over them. This will make the introduction of rules, explanation of truth and installation of discipline something they are willing to embrace. Relationships are the glue that binds everything together.
7. We have to work on ourselves. As dads, we cannot arrive home and just think like “I’m the King, serve me!” just because we bring home the bacon. It’s the reverse. We should come home and say “I’m here to serve you.” They want to see a good leader, not a sloucher or barker. As moms, we have to be careful about what we say because our words can be acidic and hurtful. They are no longer irretrievable once launched. We have to bring harmony to the home and closeness in relationships not just rant about domestic issues. To work on our kids, we need to work on ourselves.
8. Our countenance as parents affects the aura of the home. If we’re always upset, shouting and too strict, our children won’t feel safe. They will be terrified, stressed, compliant but overly fearful and they won’t open up. Instead, they will turn to their friends and get their acceptance from them. And if they don’t they spiral into greater loss of self-esteem and depression, then they entertain thoughts of ending their lives. Parents, let us be more loving, patient, kind, gentle, understanding, caring, nurturing and self-controlled because what our children see at home becomes their memories.
9. When we fail our kids and make mistakes, we should be humble enough to apologize and ask forgiveness too. We cannot live with the “For as long as you’re living in my house….” statement. It enters one ear and leaves the next. Our children are looking at us as a role model of the right character. Therefore, when we are wrong, we are to apologize to them, rectify it and find ways to refresh if not recharge the relationships. Remember, not doing so leaves wounds and wounds can turn into scars that stay for a long time.
10. Let us not be too occupied in building our bank accounts or reputation in society. That’s important, yes, but not as important as influencing our children. Because they are our source of inspiration and we all aspire for them to have a generation than ours. More importantly, we need to imprint in them a godly legacy because everything else in this world will fade… but values won’t and it can only be transferrable and duplicable through our intentional relationship with our children.
Our mentors always tell us: “If we can bring our children closer to a relationship with God, that’s half of the battle won, that’s 80% in the molding of their character and behavior.” But as their parents, the ones entrusted by God to love them, we have to do our part. We have to love them unconditionally as Christ has loved us. This means we need to have an intimate relationship with God because our experience with Him, overflows in our love for our children. And how we know God, is how they will know this loving God too.
These 10 insights do not cover everything, but hopefully, it will suffice in making some adjustments and changes in the way you parent your children. Remember, no amount of success at work can compensate for failure at home. Because home is where the heart is.
This photo was taken last Saturday, November 17 with the parents, administrators, and teachers of Sacred Heart of Jesus Montessori School and Oro Christian Grace School. Their presence is an indication of to grow together in parenting this generation — the right way.