The responsibility of being a parent is the most challenging job any human can undergo. Webster’s dictionary defines a parent as “one that begets or brings forth offspring, a person who brings up and cares for another, " but it is so much more. Parents from all over the world will tell you that no matter what your socioeconomic position or color, creed or culture, at some point and time in your life you will be angry, hurt, frustrated, happy, proud, confused and in need guidance.
Historically parents learned to be parents from their parents. Families lived in the same house or duplex, on the same block or street within minutes of a grandmother and father, aunt, uncle, cousin, in fact for many the community was your family. It was easy to derive support and advice from those who had raised and reared the neighborhood butcher, baker, barber or grocer. Unfortunately, today parents, aunts, and family members with the knowledge to lend a helping hand are separated by miles and in some cases oceans and the passing on of words of wisdom have been reduced to emails and family websites.
Families have become smaller and the number of single parents may now out number married parents. This does not mean that we stop talking about or getting advice on how to raise our children and handle issues that can sometime be down right overwhelming. Some parents really need to know how to raise their children in a manner that is different from the manner in which they were raised. Parents born in another country are quickly discovering that the ways of the “old country" do not adapt to the new American way of living. What is a parent to do?
It is certain that our children are living in a world that is vastly different from the one in which we were raised and the world they will live in as an adult will be different than the one we live in now. Can we prepare our children for the future and how will they raise their children. What will they value? Who will they look up to for guidance and support, a family member, a political icon, a mega minister or someone else?
There are a few things parents can begin to do to make sure that the traditions of the family are maintained. And I know there are parents reading this saying. “I don’t have time to do anything else. " I beg to differ and reply by saying you really don’t have a choice, because your children are a direct reflection of the type of home they come from…so give it your best shot and keep them on a path that will make the family proud.
Parents can continue existing traditions or be open to new ones by:
1. Keeping a journal on family catastrophes - Seriously, children need to know that you struggled, went bankrupt, lost your job, had a gambling problem. It shows you are human and that you still persevered. Remember “Life is a challenge…for everyone. "
2. Leave notes under your child’s pillow, even when they are teens – Everybody wants to know that somebody cares…never stop caring, even when you don’t want to.
3. Create a story-telling time with your children –You and your children must use your imagination and make up stories. This is a wonderful way to communicate and teach children to “think on their feet. " You can start them off by saying, “It was June 12th a hot sticky day and……let them take it from there for about 2-3 minutes then on to the next child. Practice this every week, or once a month and you will be surprised how articulate and creative your children will become. Just try it.
4. Have each child in your family plan a family day; include a modest budget, time, food, the entire event. (Maybe it’s a pizza night or a bowling night or game night) If the children are very young sit down and help them. Do not allow them to plan what they want, but what the entire family would like. You want to teach your children not to be selfish and self-absorbed. You may want to do this once a month, so if you have three children they will be the family event planner four times throughout the year.
5. Start a “fun" family business. Sit down with your children and talk about something the family might want to do earn extra cash or save for a special vacation. Let it become a tradition, i. e. six months before schools out start selling cookies at the Farmers’ Market. Your family might want to make preserves, start a lawn service in the neighborhood, collect books from neighbors and sell them on Amazon.com or have a monthly garage sell. Make a plan and see if the children can see it through each year to completion. Nothing is more satisfying than being successful.
Family members should always end the day by saying something good about all the other members in your home (this can be done at the dinner table or before going to bed) and never going to bed angry a rule everyone in the family should follow.
There is no doubt some of these suggestions may seem simple and old fashion, perhaps even a little nonsensical, but remember it’s the little things in life that really mean the most. Dandelions really are flowers if you believe they are!
D. D. Davis is a writer with over 20 years of experience, and has produced a series of e-Books that support parents in creating a good life for their family. Dee may be reached at email@example.com , or by mail at J. Davis & Associates Publishing, P. O. Box 44782, Detroit, MI 48244-0782, Attention: D. D. Davis. To learn more visit: http://www.supportingourchildren.com