Over the last thirty-five years I have noticed the role of parent somewhat changing. From strict to more lenient, from nurturing to smothering, from encouraging to fearful. I think back to the things I did as a child and a teen and compare them to the things I allow my kids to do and what other parents seem to be letting their children do. Frankly, I don’t know how my mother wasn’t a complete nervous wreck.
I often feel like parents today have forgotten what parenting is all about. The job of a parent is to provide guidance and knowledge to the child and raise him or her to be a productive upstanding citizen. It isn’t to give them everything they want, or shield them from disappointment, or run around like crazy to make sure they are happy. Here are six obvious responsibilities of parenting that seem to be forgotten in this age of helicopter parenting.
Basic Needs Everyday Water, food, clothing and shelter need to be provided to your child every single day. That’s not to say it has to be served in a formal dining room and everyone has to eat together. I’m just saying that there needs to be food, water, clothing, and a roof overhead. Pretty obvious I know but sometimes people are unable to provide these basic needs to their children. As a parent, if you know about it and can do something about it, help it. Otherwise these children have a major strike against them in life.
Cognitive, Emotional, and Physical Health Cognitive refers to the way the brain works to think and figure out problems. Emotional health can be made stronger through high self-esteem and a good self-concept. Lastly, physical health is accomplished mostly through healthy diet, regular exercise and good hygiene. In order to make sure your child’s cognitive, emotional, and physical healths are taken care of you have to work on them every day. Challenge your child to solve problems, let them know that it is okay to make mistakes and limit their intake of sugar, video games and television. Teach your child about washing up and brushing teeth and wiping thoroughly after going to the bathroom. It’s hard work but as your child grows into a healthy, happy adult who feels good about themselves, it will prove worthwhile.
Social Needs Must Be Met Human beings are social beings. It is important to expose your children to both other children and other adults that value the child. Extended family can be an important influence in a child’s life. Plan trips to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Visit playgrounds and parks in your area. Make play dates with the other children in your child’s class. All of these activities will help your child learn to interact with others and feel comfortable with themselves.
Protection Is Priority #1 First and foremost as a parent you have to keep your child safe. You start by childproofing your home when they are babies, you buy helmets and knee pads when they learn to ride a bike or skate, you insist that they wear a seat belt every single time they ride in a car, and you talk to them about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex.
What we also have to do that parents aren’t doing as much of nowadays is let go and let our little birds fly out of the nest. When you over-protect your children, you cripple them for life. They never learn that it is okay to fall down, make mistakes or get hurt. Then they grow up afraid – fearful of trying anything that may not work out well. Fearful adults are never happy, successful adults.
Interest and Attention Everyday It isn’t necessary (or even healthy) to spend all day with your child but it is vital to spend some time every day giving your full attention and individual interest to your child. I understand this can be difficult for parents with full-time jobs and more than one child but the effort is worth it. Even if you spend only ten or fifteen minutes with your child, listening to a story or what they did that day. This is quality time that will show your child how important they are.
Foundations of Education A child learns more in the first five years of life than at any other time and parents are a child’s most important teachers. As a parent it is your duty to teach your children the foundations of like education. Social education includes teaching to share and wait your turn. Basically how they should interact with others. Moral education covers the important questions of whether or not it’s okay to steal or hurt someone else or damage other people’s property. Religious or spiritual instruction depends entirely on you and your family’s beliefs. Lastly cultural education encompasses traditions and holidays that are practiced by your family, your nationality or your religion. Obviously passing down these values and beliefs are vital to the growth of your child as well as being fun to share.
As you can see, parenting is a huge responsibility and not something that should be entered into without proper thought. It can be tricky to walk the line between permissive parenting and overbearing, overprotective parenting. If you are thinking about becoming a parent you should be sure that you are prepared to fulfill these responsibilities and if you are already a parent, this can be an easy way to measure how well you are doing as a parent.