By Pamela Agboga
While we might feel that we are doing our best in raising our children, it does not hurt to take a refresher course. This Children’s Day, take time to assess yourself; how well are you handling your parenting job, and are there ways that you can do a better job?
Larry J. Koenig Ph.D, in his book “Crash Course on Successful Parenting: 13 Dynamics of Raising Great Kids” says that there are macro and micro goals to parenting, and that once parents master the macros, the micros fall into place. His 4 macros are: Love, time, consistency and security. Everything else: punctuality, courtesy, decorum, comportment, all flow from these 4 macros. And it’s no wonder why.
Love: Children grow up, leave the house to get married and make a family. They generally expect their marriages to be based on love. Love is as sought after as money. There’s a reason why novels and movies have a romance thread running through them, no matter how scientific the core theme of the story is. If love is so important to adults, how much more to children who have not yet developed their sense of independence? Love not shown does not exist. As a song goes; ‘Give love, that’s how you live love.’ Give your love to your children tirelessly and consistently, through discipline, through the fun times, through the teen years, through adulthood. Even at 21, your child should be able to hear you say ‘I love you’ and believe that you mean it, whether he or she hears it in person or in a mail, or on the phone.
Time: Everyone values time, which is why people are selective of whom they spend time with. Children blossom when parents spend quality time with them. Teenagers are thrilled to know their parents are there and ready to spend time with them. So invest in things you can do with your children, and make individual time for all of them. Just reading the papers while sitting with a book-loving child might be all the time the child needs. Playing Scrabble and Monopoly all count towards having fun with the family. Looking your children in the eye when they talk to you is a strong non-verbal communication that you value their thoughts, words and deeds.
Consistency: Parents find it hard to be consistent, what with work and other social activities. Family plans keep getting shifted, until the kids just nod when you propose something while in their heads they are thinking ‘As if!’ Younger children are good at latching on to a malleable parent and whining or screaming their way to a win. But that is no help to them when they are grown. Consistency gives the child the confidence that his parents are going to be there for him. A parent who is consistent in love, will be able to recognise when a rule is negotiable, and even when the child has matured enough for the rule to be relaxed.
Security: Interestingly enough, Larry Koenig did not write about door locks and curfews here. Instead he expounded on having a support network, helping the children through changes, and watching one’s words as a parent so the children do not hear arguments that make them worry about the state of the family. Indeed, security for your children goes beyond the streets, to your nuclear family. It is still a wonder how children from broken homes somehow carry a secret fear that they did something to make their parents separate.
Your children are worth more than you can even begin to imagine. They are a gift to you, so care for them.