Parenting is the toughest known job on earth. No matter the amount of books you read, or the amount of videos you watch, it is never enough to prepare you for the journey as a parent. I am talking about being an involved and engaging parent. You could be a parent that perhaps provides for the needs of the family financially which is alright. However, I am talking about involved parents – parents who are involved in almost every step of the way.
Which brings me to context and arising questions – so many contexts and questions on how children should be raised.
What takes pre-eminence in raising children?
Is it the religious institutions, is it the culture, the society where the families live, is it what is seen on TV, is it what the books recommend, is it family tradition, is it what grandparents say? The list could be endless. And all these perspectives are valid.
I was listening to a conversation between a son, Jason and his father one day and the son told the dad, “if you had taught me how to swim when I was a lot younger, perhaps I would have been an excellent swimmer that would be winning laurels now”. The father responded, “but son, you had no interest in swimming then. I tried to take you for swimming lessons and you just did not like it and I couldn’t force you.”
The boy said “but dad I was a kid, I would have wanted to have my way and it was your job as a father to put me in the right path.”
“You mean to force you…” the dad responded.
The conversation went on and on.
I spent a good deal of time reflecting on this conversation and found out that son and dad were both correct in their perspectives.
Son was only a kid. Dad didn’t want to force son to do what he didn’t seem to enjoy as a kid.
Where do we draw the lines as parents?
This takes my mind back to what my friend once told me many years ago, that primarily he is a father to his children and not their friend and friendship comes secondarily. That his kids may not like it, but it is his job to be a good parent and if friendship comes along the way which he fervently hoped would be the scenario, then all good.
As a parent, you never know what is waiting for you down the parenting journey. All the excitement that comes along with the pregnancy and the delivery, sometimes is accompanied by not so good a news like if the child has got some disabilities or mother is traumatized during the pregnancy, illnesses, etc. This could completely reconfigure the life of that family.
Not to detour from the main subject of this discourse, the context plays a dominant role in deciding as a parent when to act, what to do and how to act.
The environment plays a crucial factor because there are certain expectations and laws that has to be kept. And then you have your personal beliefs as well.
But back to Jason and his dad, the issue is that as parents, there are certain things we have to almost coerce our children to do if need be because of the benefits, assuming, all persuasive strategies have failed.
Whether they like it or not is not the point now. We know that if we do not do some of these things for them when they are children, we are setting them up for failure or a life filled with challenges in future, where the children will not have the sheer discipline or mindset to handle successfully.
Things like healthy eating – whether they like fruits/vegs or not, we have to incorporate that into the family eating habit and make them eat it.
Exercise, we have to build that into the family routine whether they like it or not.
Doing chores around the house – to equip them with survival skills in life. Will they like it? Some may and some may not but we have to make them do it, no matter what it costs us as parents.
Reading- forming the habit of reading so that in future they will not sign their life away without reading the little print.
Reflecting! The art of reflecting – so that they can improve upon their lives.
Meetings – family meetings to incorporate the skill of meetings, listening to other people talk, contributing ideas and knowing that your ideas may not be accepted but its ok to contribute. This will teach them the art of respecting other people’s viewpoints and know that the world does not revolve around them and their ideas.
Using emerging situations as learning opportunities – teaching them to respect themselves and other people regardless of the colour of their skin and beliefs.
The list is endless.
If we do not do this as parents, we are setting the children up for failure and a drain on the NHS and public funds. We would be setting the children up to be a nuisance and pest on the society and a waste on public funds when the police will have to be called out on several occasions because of ASB.
If we do not do these things decisively, then our kids will be another stats.
As a parent, it is draining, yes, it is hardwork, yes we may not feel like going through the battle especially if the child is difficult, unco-operative or has special needs.
But the end result is worth the effort, it will definitely yield success.
When that child grows up eating healthily,
When that child grows up exercising as a habit because he learnt it from home,
When that child grows up respecting everybody,
When that child grows up making informed choices,
It will be worth the effort at the end of the day.
Then in the future, there will not be that repeat of awkward conversation between Jason and dad.