Last night I assigned my adult writing students the following topic: What does it take to be a good parent? My students range in age from 20 to 65. Most, but not all, are parents, so I anticipated that some of them would balk at the question. I also suspected that there would be a wide range of opinions. Once again, I was wrong in my assumptions.
It turned out that they unanimously agreed on the following as important characteristics of good parenting: consistency, discipline, communication, respect, sense of humor, education, and love. They also said, unanimously, that love is consistency, discipline, communication, respect, and promoting education. One mother of 3 adult daughters asked, “Is it okay if I say, ‘It’s because I love you that I do this!’”? My answer was, of course.
Reading their drafts reminded me again of some of the basic principles you’ve seen over the years in this column, and in these hectic times with the end of school and spring sports, I thought it worth a little review.
•They are what we teach. Children imitate what they see. Make sure what you do is what you want them to do. The “Do as I say, not as I do” maxim never worked very well. It works even less with today’s kids.
•Sometimes saying “no” to our children is the best gift we can give them. If we’re always saying yes, we are teaching them a lesson that will blow up in their faces when they hit college and the work force and a serious relationship.
•Always be consistent. Don’t make threats you aren’t prepared to keep. Follow through with discipline and rewards. Keep your promises.
•Always criticize the act, not the actor.
•Make education everyone’s priority. While lots of things may be as important as education, nothing should be more important. It’s their ticket to a better future. Make sure they don’t lose the ticket!
•Respect your children by listening to what they say and considering what you hear. However, you remain the parent and you know what’s right and wrong for them, even if they don’t.
•Be an intentional parent.
•Never lose your sense of humor. I had a friend tell me, “If it’s going to be funny later (some day we’ll laugh about this), then it’s funny now.”
•Always tell them you love them.
Nothing is as easy now as it was when you were a kid…………..but some things remain the same. Successful parenting is rooted in consistency, discipline, communication, respect, promoting education and love!