Parent with Love
The first rule of positive parenting, “children don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”- Theodore Roosevelt.
Positive parenting is all about reflecting pure unbiased love to your child. Be the first face of love they see. They must know without a doubt that their earthly father and mother or the representatives thereof, love them, before they can believe that a Heavenly Father loves them, let alone any one else. It’s impossible to parent without love; love for God, love for people and love for your children. Love in it’s purest form “is patient, kind… does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrong…always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. True love never fails. Don’t feel embarrassed to tell your child “I love you.” Never take for granted that your child knows you love him. More than just saying the words, show love to your child in the most mundane things. Children appreciate those the most.
Avoid setting unrealistic expectations. Tell your child the truth. Be real. A man was with his therapist one day, and the therapist asked him, “Sir when did your trust issues start?” The man answered “ I was 2 years old and my dad told me to go and put on my shoes if I wanted to go out with him and by the time I came back, he was gone!” Don’t raise your child on lies, invariably creating a legacy of fear and mistrust. In that Man’s case his father could have simply said honestly, “I am going out, and I will be back home later.” This may have caused the child to cry temporarily, but would not have caused lasting personality damage. Whether white lies or blue lies, lies are never OK. The same goes for folktales; don’t tell your child not to whistle at night because the snakes will come out, rather be realistic, tell him not to whistle at night because people are sleeping and it may disturb them. The truth is always the best option. To raise honest, children we as parents must first be honest.
Mistakes are OK!
Everyone has a parent who always came first place in class or got a gold medal for every race they ever ran, or made an ‘A’ in every exam they ever took, was on the Dean’s List their entire years in Uni, etc, you get the picture. While there may be some parents like this, it is more probable that many struggled through Uni, found algebra challenging in elementary school, weren’t any good at sports, broke their mothers most cherished china plates and guess what? It’s OK! Presenting yourself as perfect and without blemish to your child will not encourage them to be perfect. On the contrary you are more likely to discourage them anytime they make mistakes, because they WILL make mistakes. Letting your child know your weaknesses and your not so flattering experiences gives them the confidence that if you made it despite all those situations, they too can make it no matter what they go through in their own life.
When, (not if) your child makes mistakes, treat it as if it were the first time. Remember love keeps no record of wrong. Lovingly redirect them and show them how to do it better next time. Help them clean up the present mess and rekindle their hope for a better chance next time. By doing this, you are setting them up to be a wholesome child and in turn a wholesome adult someday.
Do as I DO not As I Say
“Actions speak louder than words, and are more to be regarded”-A. M Davis 1973. We have all heard this saying before. It doesn’t matter what we say to our children, they end up doing what they see us do. Our actions tell who we really are. What your action shows, not just who you profess to be with your mouth, is the real you.
Have you ever wondered why a man who grew up in a home with an abusive father, could turn out to be himself an abusive husband? You would think after all the nights he cried with his mother for her pain, he would make it his life’s mission to be the opposite with his own wife. But the reality is, what he was shown is all he knows how to be – even though in his heart he may not want to be that way.
Our actions are very important. Most of what our children know and do are not the things we told them but the things they picked up subconsciously from watching our actions. You cannot tell your child not to drink alcohol when they grew up seeing beer in the fridge. You cannot tell your child not to raise their voice at you, but the very tone with which you speak to them is a raised voice! You want your child to say please and thank you? You don’t need to chorus each time he is given something “what do you say?” What you need to do is say ‘please’ each time you make a request of him, and say thank you in appreciation. Raising a wholesome child is being a good example.
Build with Your Words
As a parent, liken your child to a house, and your words to concrete blocks. There is power in your words, therefore speak words that build up your children rather than tear them down. Do not describe your child using negative words. Separate their actions from their being; eg “John did something naughty” is very different from “John is a naughty boy.” More importantly do not give others the consent to do that injustice. Correct in love. Just because your child did a naughty thing does not make her a naughty girl. Rather than say you are a naughty girl or boy, simply tell them they did something naughty and equip them with a better alternative for next time. Children, no matter their age, are not the best listeners so spend more time telling them the good they should do than reminding them of the bad they have done. We must speak, read and teach children with edifying words daily. Children are always watching, so, even when dealing with other adults, as an example to our children, our own words must always encouraging, kind and sweet even in correction or reprimand.
Always remember that a soft answer turns away wrath. Children eventually become to you what you say to and about them, because subconsciously you will form a negative perception, though that was not your intention. Positive parenting requires that we speak words that will build up our children to live out their full potential and bask in the abundant life ahead of them.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Bryan Creely