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Neighbors of Kane County

Exploring the art of parenting

Oct 27, 2015 02:40PM ● By Neighbors Magazines

By: Kimberly Svevo-Cianci, Ph.D.

September marked a new record for gun violence and homicides in Chicago. We are also reminded of local youth suicides and families with troubled children who are experiencing problems with mental health issues, substance abuse and relationship failures.

While it’s frightening for us as parents, we must also recognize that we have enormous power and responsibility to help our children find beauty, hope, joy and a reason to live. We can do so much to support our children’s positive development, capacity to succeed, sensitivity and empathy–so they care for others and can be cared for. We want to help them find purpose in this world.

These are protective factors that will help them develop resiliency, hope and determination to overcome the challenges and obstacles they will encounter in the years ahead.

 Our role is to become proactive in our children’s positive development and emerging sense of purpose in the world. We can intentionally influence their will to live more positively and connected in community.

COLUMN 3, QUESTION 3 - On our role in establishing values and purpose in our children’s lives.

Which of the following do you do regularly? Will you do in future?

a) Model and encourage my child to have a positive self-image and self compassion?

Currently __ Future __

b) Model and encourage my child to value other adults and children regardless of their socio-economic status, educational level, race, religion or appearance.

Currently __ Future __

c) Model and ensure that my child understands it is ok to be who they are as individuals and appreciate, encourage and celebrate the good in them. Helping them accept their limitations, without comparing them to others?

Currently __ Future __

d) Model and guide my child in communicating and interacting positively with family, friends and strangers and to help them succeed in relationship-development and in society?

Currently __ Future __

e) Model and encourage my child to help others, and to seek out a purpose in life where they contribute their support to making a positive change for others, and understand the importance of their existence in making a better world for others?

Currently __ Future __

e) Model and teach my child not to hate or despise others, because that may lead to aggression in their thinking and actions-which may eventually lead them into danger. Instead help them to try to understand the circumstances or obstacles responsible for others’ challenges in life?

Currently __ Future __

f) Model and talk to my child about the positives in life, and the risks and dangers, that it is ok to feel sad or afraid, but that we can each find strength to address life’s challenges and that it is worthwhile to do so because we will laugh and find joy again, despite the pain we also feel.

Currently __ Future __

g) Model and help your child understand that they should reach out for help when they need it.

Currently __ Future __

h) Model and help my child to develop the patience, hope and resilience they need to contribute to the families and communities they belong to now, and those they will belong to in the future.

Currently __ Future __

i) All of the above.

Currently __ Future __

Isn’t it our job, as parents, to inspire our children to thrive in our world and to make it a better place? We hope that will keep them safer and more satisfied. In fact, when we model these things, we are holding ourselves to the high standards we would like everyone to measure themselves against. We can make our children proud of their parents who are investing in their futures.

Sometimes it’s hard to gather the energy to be the positive force our children need to see in order to develop those traits within themselves. It doesn’t always require more time in the day. We can talk with them as we drive to school, as we talk over dinner, as we say good-night. Taking time for a walk together can be powerful in renewing and strengthening our bonds and attachment, as children grow older. We must remain emotionally available for them so we can guide their development.

Don’t we want to ensure our children’s futures will be bright and full of opportunities for them to succeed in a world and society they will leave better than they found it? Today’s social issues are everywhere and doing nothing is only making things worse. By committing to being positive forces in the world, and changing the broader world around our children, we can change their worlds for the better. By doing so, we can contribute to keeping them safe, strong and happy.

As always, we might not be able to perfect these areas short term, but we can work at it. As we gain confidence in how our children are learning what is best in us, we will learn a lot about ourselves in the process. In fact, as our children learn from us, they will support us in what we do well. Recognize and treasure that support.

Kimberly Svevo-Cianci, Ph.D. is Board Chairman, Changing Children's Worlds Foundation (CCWF) and Founder, International Child/Parent Development Program-USA, 411 Stevens Street, Geneva, IL 60134. 630-417-4567.,