I have some opinions about being a parent. As a teacher, I've seen a LOT...I mean A LOT!! Let's just leave it at that for now. I'm not writing this particular blog to 'bad-mouth' this generation, because believe me, there are plenty of outstanding young people. I have to commend these young people who have chosen to stay away from drugs, alcohol, smoking, and other vices while they are surrounded by tempations of every kind.
We've practically legalized marijuana at this point--it's pretty sad to think that it's become such a problem that policing this behavior is next to impossible. I know what a 'high' student looks like: checked out, aloof, sleepy, and they really really smell. Where are they getting this stuff anyway? And the money for it? Think about it. They aren't living on their own, for the most part. They live at home with PARENTS.
Parents are parents; they are not friends, cohorts, partners in crime...not even good buddies. They CAN be, of course, but a parent made a choice to have a child and a child needs nurturing, modeling. They need a PARENT!
I firmly believe that one GOOD parent is better than two negligent ones...
So, here are MY RULES for being a Parent...take 'em or leave em.
- 1. Choose a partner that exemplifies what YOU want YOUR child to be like. We don't think about that....but if we did, we'd choose people who are honest, have strong values similar to our own, are healthy in mind and body, have a strong work ethic, and ADD to the value of our planet. This can come in many forms--from the farmer who makes healthy and pesticide-free food for many to the scientist who brings healthy and chemical-free solutions to medical problems.
- 2. Decide on 'how to parent' with this potential partner BEFORE you have children. You might be surprised in their thinking and how it does or does not coincide with your own values. This, in and of itself, can be a HUGE problem....you MUST be a team or the child quickly learns which parent to 'play.'
- 3. Fill your home with good things: learning toys, educational tools like books, paper, good lighting, a place for quiet study. Encourage learning--read to them! And, read yourself!! Buying them the 'latest, greatest' toy is not really a gift---it's a temporary distraction.
- 4. Teach values: teach right from wrong. Tell them about God. Tell them about consequences and HOLD them to consequences you've set when they waver off course...and they will. Expect greatness; reward improvement. Hold them accountable for THEIR ACTIONS. They are NOT YOURS. Paying for something THEY broke teaches that others will take care of your problems...that's why we have BIG GOVERNMENT---and getting bigger--another topic.
- Provide NUTRIOUS food - it's fine to bake cookies, make cakes together....but each meal should provide them with protein and vitamins and minerals to help their growing bodies. Feed THEM before you feed yourself if you have to---YOU don't need a bottle of wine for that get together next weekend and then scrimp on your children's diets by buying box after box of processed macaroni and cheese. They need real food---I'm very serious about this one! ( I'm actually VERY SERIOUS about all of these)
- Pay attention to their friends - help them to make good choices here. Help them to be THEIR best and look THEIR best--they will draw good people to them. Peer pressure is tough and if they have friends who share their GOOD values and THEIR parents share YOUR good values, YOUR life is going to be much much easier. Don't assume that a 'high end' neighborhood will have parents who share your values. Good values don't come with a big bank account - they come from hard-working, God-fearing people who know that we are what we think...we reap what we sow...we honor what we hold dear. When they are young, it is easy to steer them away from bad influences. As they grow older....and I mean over 10...it becomes MUCH MORE DIFFICULT. Deal with issues NOW when your children are little and they will make better choices later.
- Be involved with their school. I work in a public school. In my building, we have about 130 professionals, who, I can honestly say, care a LOT about kids and what they do. There are always exceptions, but these teachers spend so much time trying to fill in the gaps for parents who are drugged up, out of town, out to lunch, or just plain out of their minds. We can't do it all. It's YOUR job to raise your kids. Teach them respect for themselves and others. Period. I've heard it all, seen it all, and felt it all...these kids need parents! 'nuf said...
- Be joyous in the gift(s) you've been given...if you have chosen to have children and God has blessed you with children...............LOVE THEM! Be with them. Talk with them. Care about them. Coach them. Tell them what they need to know, what they need to hear, and sometimes, what they don't want to hear...they need YOU. Parenting is not a sacrifice; it's a privilege.
- With that said, take care of YOURSELF. Be a model by eating well, exercising, reading, spending time outdoors, enjoy nature...volunteer in your community and take your kids along. Teach them about life and people by being a wonderful human being. Yes, you'll make mistakes. You're human...but own up to them and don't be afraid to say you're sorry. Show them what it takes to live a long and prosperous and joy-filled life.
- Money is NOT the answer. Giving them an allowance for breathing is not an option. Chores are a good thing. Children should be taught that a hard day's work gets a paycheck and that saving money is an essential part of their lives, now more than ever. Explain to them how to care for things and that money is a form of energy...don't waste it. A solid education is necessary, be it a trade, college, or something else. They need to be able to completely take care of themselves. Life is a journey and it is your job as a parent to prepare them to be self-sufficient.
- Teach respect. They should not talk back, be 'snippy,' or be rude. They need to learn good manners. They'll be in the minority and will stand out to get jobs, etc. They are so much more delightful to be around, too!
- Teach them to honor the Earth: animals are not for teasing, hurting, or hunting for fun. Plants in someone's gardens are for enjoyment...a plant is a living thing. It breathes and its exhalation cleanses our world. Teach them to enjoy nature as a gift...because it is.
- Parenting is forever...It's a big job...don't forget it.