When you read this title, what did you think, first? Did you consider the idea of getting in front of a camera and taking various photo snapshots? Did you imagine clay and building several sets of pottery? Or, were you in the minority of people who instantly thought, wow, I need to show my children what I expect of them? The odds are that you were not in the minority. In the event that you were in the minority, kudos to you, now all you need to do is spread your knowledge to your neighbors.
The truth is many parents forget that they are being watched at all times, I know I have. Basically, we expect that our children will follow our rules and grow up to be excellent, well adjusted adults. Typically, we are fortunate to see this outcome to fruition. However, those parents that cannot or do see this outcome, can do something to ensure that it happens. The first step, accept and know that you are watched at all times, so give your children something worth looking at.
Model good manners and good behavior
I heard once that, the measure of a man is how he acts when no one is around to see. The same is true of modeling for your children. I know, this seems counter- intuitive but it is not. When a parent practices good behavior and good manners, these things become quite habitual. Habits, as the saying goes, are hard to break. Thus, children see their parents being good and having good manner, without thought to the process, they too can pick up on and practice this kind of behavior. Equally as important is what can be told to your children when you are not around.
Make no mistake, children can and will hear things about their parent’s behaviors, when they are away. What could your neighbors and colleagues say about you? The things that our kids don’t see- our proverbial skeletons- are very damaging to the psyche and development of our children. It is of crucial importance that great care is taken with behaviors done in their absence.
Communication is more than talking to others and to our children, specifically. Communication involves talking and listening. One mistake that many parents are a victim of is that they do not listen or they do not listen enough. Most of communication is the ability to hear what the other party is saying. Without listening, why bother talking? Parents cannot and should not expect a child to listen for the sake of a parent being a parent. Children must be given a voice as well. When children feel safe, open and free enough to speak with parents, issues are aired and questions- important, life questions- are asked.
Therefore, communicating through frequent, non judgmental and punished talking is a necessity. Parents who listen and openly talk with their children are fortunate to know when their kids are being bullied, when they are feeling lonely and why they can step in to make a situation better. This doesn’t mean that communication will save all of these things from happening. Still, most of them can be avoided.
Trust is essential to any successful relationship; the relationship between you and your child, is no different. Your children need to know that they are trusted by their parents. They need to understand that you will not watch their every move, question every decision that is made and/ or double check their rooms and personal belongings at every turn. Does this mean parents ought never to check on their children? Of course not! Parents are expected to check on their children, within reason. This does not mean that parents should search their children, unnecessarily. Likewise, parents should model that their children can trust them.
Only make promises to children that can be kept. Then, keep the promises that are made to your children. Nothing is more damaging to a relationship than lies and broken promises. Parents should work very hard to always hold what they say to their children with utmost importance. Doing this helps children to know that our word is very important and critical to us. If parents do not make promises that they cannot keep, their children are more likely to follow suit. More so, when there is trust, the relationship of a parent and child is functional. That parent and child can communicate effectively, and rely on each other.
Model money management
One of the most troublesome facets of adult life is the inability to handle money related issues. Many adults were never taught how to save, invest or effectively spend money. Instead, several children have seen their parents live paycheck to paycheck and without any real goals or the future in mind.
Children must know how to budget themselves and only buy necessities when funds are limited. Additionally, parents should focus their spending on important and useful purchases instead of, well, stuff that they may not need or really want. More than that, parents should teach children how to evaluate sales. Simply because something says sale, doesn’t mean that it really is a sale. Children will not know this fact unless they are taught.
Model Good Practices
Parents, be the adult that you want your children to grow into. Practice kindness. If you see someone who is in need, help them. Lend a hand and volunteer. Be a role model for your children. These best practices will help you children grow into helpful, respectable adults. They will learn to be selfless and put others first, inherently helping themselves in the process.
Practice healthy eating habits. Sure, you may have told your children that they should have an apple a day to keep doctors and illness away, but do you really eat that apple everyday? Are you making certain that your children are limiting the sugary drinks and fatty, fried foods; or are you yourself, indulging in them all of the time? These simply lifestyle practices can mean the difference between children who grow into healthy adults, or children who deep fry their health away.
Make every effort to be clean, neat and organized. Your children will learn these skills from you or they will learn how to do the opposite. Which outcome do you prefer?
Parents, there is no Parenting 101 manual that is given to us when our children are born. All that we can do is try our best and inspect and practice what we expect. One day, the fruits of our labors will be seen and felt. Make the effort today, for the future that you want tomorrow.