What is your role as a parent?
Sep 28, 2015 10:24AM
By Neighbors Magazines
Joining the children at the CCWF Ultimate PlayHouse, standing left to right in the doorway are John and Joshua Hall, who led the PlayHouse Construction Team. Mayor Kevin Burns stands to their right.
In this week’s column, the parenting issue and question are internally focused. You will explore your individual and personal conceptions of what parenting is and should be. Is your conception of being a parent the same as how you were parented and imagined you would parent? Did that conception change or evolve when you had children of your own? Is it evolving even today as your children grow, develop, and face challenges? Each individual child requires you to personalize your response to their unique needs.
Column 2 – question 2: Think about your concrete experiences interacting with your child to answer the following question;
On your conception of yourself as Caregiver, which of the following best describes your role as parent/caregiver?
a) Responsible for loving, caring for, supporting my child emotionally and helping them have a positive self-image/self-compassion.
b) Responsible for my child’s material needs (home, food, clothing, protection).
c) Responsible for modeling and teaching my child social/emotional competencies to succeed in relationships and society.
d) Responsible for teaching my child and helping my child to love to learn and understand the world and their opportunities in it.
e) Responsible for helping my child’s capacity to self-regulate, to understand boundaries/rules, to plan and strategize, and to be guided by positive values. Teaching them an understanding of the implications of their actions on themselves and others (the moral compass).
g) All of the above.
Each and every one of these parental responsibilities is critical to your children’s positive development and well-being. Traditionally, your parents may have prioritized B, and included some elements of A and E but in today’s society children need the support of their parents/guardians in each area in order to function and succeed within family, school, community, jobs/careers and throughout life.
Your job as parents is, first, to understand the powerful opportunity you have to prioritize contributing to your children’s positive development and well-being. This will strongly influence their life-time success and happiness.
Once you do this, it follows that you will be their first, and probably forever, teachers, guides, coaches, cheerleaders, advocates and champions – sometimes all of those in one day.
Children who start school off understanding how to listen, behave in interactions with others, have self-control and understand how to behave in social situations will have strong advantages in establishing positive relationships. This will allow them to enjoy being at school and achieve academic success as well.
Raising children to focus their attention, enjoy learning, work with and support others and admit when they don’t know something encourages them to be learners and leaders.
When you model self-control, strong values, teach them strategies to succeed and help them to develop the self-regulation and internal moral compass it helps make them good, successful and happy people.
Don’t expect to do it all at once. Over time you have opportunities to guide, encourage and influence their positive development. Be observant to recognize and affirm what they are doing well more than their shortcomings. Children are great imitators, so when you model good interactions and communications, that’s what they will learn. It’s a beautiful thing to see them display the best that you have shared with them, in their interactions.
Parents and guardians are the most important teachers in children’s lives. See the list above and pick something to model for your child and talk about this week. It might not work the first few times but with consistency you should see changes. Children need to trust that you give them the best you have to give, consistently. Then, they can trust that it’s what they should do too. It takes time.
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Kindness and joyful regards,
Kimberly Svevo-Cianci, Ph.D.
Board Chairman, Changing Children's Worlds Foundation (CCWF) and Founder, International Child/Parent Development Program-USA
Changing Children’s World Foundation
411 Stevens Street, Geneva.