For most people, growing up in a household brings back fond memories of at least one parent, if not both, in a relationship which affects the rest of a child’s life. Whether a single parent or married, parents can create feeling of stability.
Being a good parent takes energy and patience but the rewards are outstanding. As a mother of nine children, I can tell you that it is a lot of work but the payback is sometimes overwhelmingly wonderful and very joyful.
So what does it take to be a good parent? Here are some suggestions:
1. Be a consistent disciplinarian. This is one of the hardest characteristics of a good parent. Children need boundaries and need to feel secure when you say no. They know where they stand, so even though they will push the limits of their parents’ boundaries, hold fast and don’t cave. This consistency will help mold your children’s idea of what is fair. Both parents should be together on what is appropriate for their own children so when they try to pit parent against parent, (and they will) consistency will win out.
2. Remember the Golden Rule. Even if you are the disciplinarian, treating your children with kindness and patience will show compassion. In turn, they will treat others this way. Manners and politeness seem to be losing ground in childraising in our modern society, but it is an important part of preserving our culture. Asking permission to play with a neighbor’s toy is much kinder than taking the toy without permission. It is a civilized world when we, as a people, can keep our manners intact by passing them on to the next generation.
3. Be available for talk time. This aspect of parenting is very important as it leaves communication open for children to receive adults’ teaching about lessons in life or a listening ear for their concerns. It is vital that we listen to our children. They need someone to hear their opinions, and we need to reinforce our ideals. Talk time is very important for children of all ages, and we, as parents, must remember to talk even though we are tired or annoyed by life’s trials.
4. Set a good example. All of what we do is copied by our children. What we say, how we treat others, how we dress and talk are all noticed even by the smallest of tots. They might not appear to be paying attention, but they are. Good behavior should always be reinforced at home. Remember, parents are a child’s very first teacher, so setting a good example is very important. I know we are not perfect, but we have to keep trying to make good choices as parents so our children will make good choices as teenagers and adults.
5. Keep electronic entertainment to a minimum. Whether it’s Xbox, television or online computer games, too much electronic entertainment makes children lazy. In most cases, children would prefer to be entertained by a screen than play outside or read a book.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, children in ages ranging from 8 to 18 years old spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes per day using entertainment media. Most experts recommend limiting a child's use of electronics to not exceed more than two hours per day as life becomes distorted if left alone to their own devices. Instead, encourage your child to play outside, read a book or play a board game.
Parents need to get the message that being a good parent is really important. Somehow, we need to instill in the minds of our rising generation the importance of good parenting and pass on the positive characteristics for the future generation.
Valerie Steimle is the mother of nine children who lives happily on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. She is the author of five books, all about strengthening the family, including “Thoughts from the Heart.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org