One thing just jumps out at you wherever you look – teach your kids that they should not bring a child into this world unless they are going to commit their lives to giving that child a good and happy upbringing.
Should parenting be a small issue down the bottom of the list because young kids don’t need to know too much about it? Or should it be right at the top because parenting is probably the most important thing that they will do as adults?
And if it’s that important how on earth can you find the time to teach them? Well, you’ve been teaching them since the day they were born. By example. Kids tend to adopt the same approach to parenting as their parents applied to them. This is good and natural. But it has a major drawback in that parenting faults get passed down from generation to generation. So it is sensible to step back and look at others’ experiences and advice.
There is so much stuff out there – websites, books, grandmothers’ advice, and it seems to change all the time - that this can be mind-boggling. We’ll try here to give a few signposts.
The NSPCC - http://www.nspcc.org.uk – has leaflets (under Help and advice) on positive parenting. While they have a particular slant, of cutting down on parental stress and consequent harm to children, their top tips seem to be good signposts. They say you should concentrate on six things – Share the love; Listen; Set the boundaries; Praise them when they do something good; Say sorry yourself when you’ve done something wrong; Let go as they grow up.
In February 2009 the Children’s Society of the Church of England released a report called A Good Childhood – the result of 2 years’ enquiry. It has a lot of stuff – see their website http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/all_about_us/how_we_do_it/the_good_childhood_inquiry/1818.html . Click on Summaries. There’s a good easy read one for children. It focuses its conclusions into seven areas that determine whether children are happy or not – Families, making a long-term commitment and loving; Friends, particularly the lowering of the age of first sexual experiences; Lifestyle including healthy diet and avoidance of violence; Values and commitment to them; Schooling and maximizing the benefit therefrom; Mental Health and how to get help to deal with conduct disorders; Inequalities although this seems more aimed at Government action than parents.
For direct “how to” advice there are huge numbers of books. Go to Amazon or Google and look for “books on parenting”, you’ll be given enough to choose from.
So what are those signposts we promised? We’d like feedback on this, but it seems to us it all breaks down to:-
- Give children security and stability in a loving family that stays together
- Pay attention to the practical stuff like keeping them clean, healthy, fed but not fat
- Teach them values – “treat others as you would want them to treat you” is a good place to start. And give them boundaries. Cope with those difficult issues of violence and sex
- Encourage, stimulate, teach and coach them – and praise their achievements
- Cut the apron strings when it’s time