I am a Millennial parent. I have always believed that parenthood is a beautiful journey in life and I have just begun mine. In my opinion, there is no such thing as good or bad parenting and neither is there a rule book or a logical way to raise your child. However, you can be a good role model for your child and encourage them to adapt to healthy routines; that would help in raising a ‘GEN Z’ child.
As parents, we have high expectations from our children. We need to take a moment and ask ourselves how are we equipping them to meet our expectations? Many parents in today buy gadgets and
fancy electronic toys to keep children engaged;
rather than giving them undivided attention, love and support – which is what they essentially need! Some of us are traveling or too busy with our work that we end up missing our children’s milestones and if we don’t slow down, we will miss out on being part of their childhood. So, let us try and meet their expectations and by doing so they will do the same for us as they grow up.
Many parents expect schooling to play the part of parenting and raise their children to be ‘good human beings’. It’s unfair to expect schools to do wonders with our children, if we cannot teach them basic manners and instill in them core values. Most schools teach children how to make a living, except the school where I work. Focusing on ‘Values’ is what distinguishes us from the other schools and this is what children really need while growing up in this world. Math and physics lessons will not make our children a nice people, but values will. So, let us work towards inculcating a few good values in them.
Children reciprocate love, in the way that we have shown them. Their innocence allows them to love without reason, their love is pure and unbiased. The emotion of love is innate to them. All that they need to be taught, is how they can express it. Let us not tarnish the value of love with terms and conditions.
Compassion is a value that is stifled in today’s selfish world. Children should be exposed to those that are less fortunate. They need to be able to sympathise with them and show compassion for them. As parents taking our children out to malls and movies is easy, maybe we should take them to an orphanage, old age home or a differently abled centre, for them to sympathise and be compassionate.
Respect is an action. I believe that if you give respect, you will receive respect. We always expect our children to respect us, however in many cases we do not respect the desires and even the moods of our children. Many of us yell at our children and expect them to function as we want them too, often forgetting that they are little people with the same feelings and emotions that run through us. The only difference is that as adults, we know how to recognize and channelize them. Children need to be taught how to respect more than just people. They also need to respect things like public property, privacy, food etc. All of this can only be taught through actions, our actions. For instance, they will respect food, if they see us not simply wasting food and throwing away food in the bin or they will give us privacy if we respect their privacy, it could be as simple as knocking on the door before we enter.
This is a tricky one. Honesty comes naturally to a little child, however they learn to lie pretty quick. How? Well, it comes from the so called ‘white lies’ that we parents keep using around them. These little master minds are quick to pick it up. It is our duty to be honest with our children and find creative ways of telling them what they need to know. If we are dishonest with them, they will find it difficult to trust us; they may not be able to approach us when they have questions, that arise from curiosity while growing up. Honesty also means accepting one’s mistakes, we need to be honest and sit down with our child and let them know that we made a mistake and that it is alright to make mistakes in life. We have to create an environment where our child can talk to us honestly about anything and everything.
Courtesy and being polite are nothing but our basic manners. We are required to teach our children the basic words or what we like to call the magic words “thank you, sorry, excuse me and please”. Again, children will pick this up easily, if it is practiced by us at home. Being courteous, can carry a child a long way in the life ahead of them.
We need to sow the seeds of gratitude when our children are young, so that, as they grow they will be grateful for what they have. We strive to give our children what they want, apart from giving them what they need. While we do so, we need to be able to show them how blessed they are, with all that they have been given. So, take children along and give to the needy, teach them the importance of giving. Let them be able to feel thankful and then they will show gratitude.
Forgiveness comes so easy to a child. As adults, we may forgive but it is not easy to forget. We forgive our children, but we often bring it up when a fault may be repeated or when we are disciplining them. Children are like sponges, they are watching and learning from you constantly. Their little minds are being sculpted by what we say and do. So, when we forgive them, make sure that we don’t bring it up again. Let us not send our children to school without letting them know that they are forgiven; never let them go to bed with us being angry with them. So, the best way to teach forgiveness is by showing forgiveness. I know that it is easier said than done, but we must try and build this precious value within our child.
In today’s world perseverance has lost its essence because of the choices we have. I have noticed that children tend to lose interest very easily. For example, they ask for guitar lessons and they lose interest in learning to play the instrument within no time. Sometimes, they give up without even trying. Children should realise that nothing comes easy in life. So, encourage them to try and try again; and finish what they start.
Responsibility is taking ownership for your actions. The simplest way of teaching a child to be responsible is by giving them small tasks around the house. Let them do their own laundry or make their bed and have them complete it. Reward and recognise their effort for being responsible and they will continue to grow in that path. Research suggests children who help in doing the chores at home grow up to be more responsible individuals.
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Most of us live in nuclear families and a lot of the children that I meet today do not have siblings. This along with the fact, that most parents are busy working and substitute quality time by giving their children what they want materialistically, is why many children grow up selfish. They are used to having everything for themselves. As parents we have to teach them to share their toys or goodies. Once in a while ask them to sacrifice or give away their favourite toy to children who do not have, this will teach them the act of selfless service.
These are just a few values that we can help our children learn. Most of them can be taught through our actions. So, spend time with your child, and lead by example.