You'd never hire someone to do the most difficult and important job on Earth, give them the responsibility to care for your most valuable asset, and toss him or her head first into the job without any training. Yet, we do it every day as new parents, each time a child is born.
We need a license to drive, to drink, to hunt, to fish, to fly an airplane or sail a boat, sell liquor or be a street vendor but we can raise a child without any indoctrination, guidance or prerequisites.
Rather than propose a license to procreate, I've recently heard the suggestion of a tax credit for parents who take the initiative to educate themselves about parenting. Why not? Our children are our greatest asset and education is rewarded in our society. We get a discount on our insurance for taking drivers education. We get better jobs with a college degree. Educated parents would raise a society of better behaved, more productive children which would save tax dollars in the long run.
The counter argument is equally as strong, telling us that the government has no place in how we raise our children. The choice to be a parent and raise our children in whatever way we believe is best, should be ours and ours alone. The debate points are endless.
Regardless of your position, many of us have not learned good parenting skills just by watching the success and failures of our own parents. Unfortunately, parenting is not a skill that we're born with. Rather, it must be learned through great parents or through education.
We have a desire to share our life with a child, give birth and hope for the best. Rarely are we prepared for the scope of the job, let alone the physical and emotional needs that never end. But we do it willingly and gratefully because of the joy and fulfillment of being a parent. It may be the hardest job in the world, but it's also the most rewarding one.
I just spent the last ten days with my daughter and son-in-law and watched, as they became new parents to my first grandchild. It was a joy to witness first hand the excitement, the joy and also see the trepidation they felt in their desire to do everything right. Babies don't come with instruction manuals.
We do the best we can and learn as we go. Thirteen years later we think we have things figured out as parents, only to hit the teenage years where all bets are off. Everything that worked before no longer does. We get to rewrite the rules with someone who knows more than we do- our teenage child.
Last week at the airport I was reminded how lost so many parents really are as I overheard a frustrated young mother shouting at her child, "No, you can't have a snack. Do you think you're special? Do you think you deserve good things? You are not a good girl and you do not deserve to be treated special." She was talking so loudly that everyone at the gate had no choice but to listen to her shouting.
Multiple studies prove that the higher self-esteem our children have, the more successful they'll be in life. We strive to raise our children with a sense of self-worth and confidence. Raising our voice in a crowd to tell our child that they are not worthy does little to accomplish this goal. It took everything I had not to approach this mother and offer some suggestions but I felt I would be overstepping my boundaries. I felt her frustration and wanted her to know that there are alternatives.
Instead, she inspired me to write this blog. When I look at the very best parents I know, I think of Kathy Slattengren, CEO of PricelessParenting.com. Kathy has the two best testimonials for her parenting style- her two teenage children. I'm impressed by the level of respect and compassion these two teenagers have not only for others, but for their own parents. In contrast, by the time the teenage years arrive, most parents are ready to eat their young. And yet, here are two amazing kids that any parent would be proud to call their own.According to Kathy, the secret is to behave the way you want your children to behave.
"When I realized how carefully my children were watching my every move and often imitating me, I was motivated to become the best role model I could be. I learned that by treating them with respect and teaching them to treat me with respect, they treated their friends and teachers with respect. By showing compassion to them, they showed others compassion. I saw my behavior reflected in their behavior. Allow children's constant surveillance to bring out your finest behavior."
Parenting is challenging in many ways. Fortunately, help is available. There's no need to reinvent the wheel or go it alone. Kathy's parenting course available through Priceless Parenting has helped create successful relationships for many parents and their children.All parents can agree on Kathy's closing comment,
"The days are sometimes long but the years go by fast. Nowhere is this truer than raising children. Rocking a crying baby until the wee hours of the night can seem to stretch on forever. Yet it seems in the blink of an eye that same baby is headed off to kindergarten. Enjoy every stage because it will be gone before you know it. There's no going back, so delight in every moment."
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