Parenting (Part 1)

Let’s talk a little about taking care of children. Our remarks apply to all those who care for children, including teachers.
To put it simply, a parent’s job is to provide a loving relationship and a safe environment in which a child’s development can unfold.

You say “a parent’s job”. Do you mean the mother?

Actually, I mean anyone who functions like a parent to the child. It certainly includes the father and mother, often grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even siblings if they are much older that the child.

A father might imagine that his job is only to earn a living and support the family. However, sons and daughters need to have a close relationship with their father in order to develop fully. Also, a father will miss out on a lot of fun and important parts of family life, as will their child, if they don’t have regular and frequent shared pleasurable experiences with their children. Children benefit from close relationships with many family members.

How does a parent affect their child?

In so many ways. Every child is born with inherited characteristics—-like a physical resemblance to their parents and their early personality. Unlike most other animals whose lives are directed primarily by instincts, the people caring for children and the immediate environment shape the child’s experience and who they become in very important ways. In biology, these two contributions to who we become are called “Nature” and “Nurture”.

Say more about Nature and Nurture

Growing up in a peaceful village surrounded by loving family and neighbors gives a child the idea that the world is a safe and loving place. A child can develop a sense of security and self-confidence from such an experience. When a child is young and has a limited ability to protect themselves, growing up in a conflict zone gives the child the idea that the world is an unpredictable and dangerous place. The same is true of growing up in a family where a parent is physically or sexually abusive or where a parent is an alcoholic with unpredictable behaviors.

How do children learn best from their parents?

Children learn the most from how their parents behave and how they relate to them and others, rather than how they say the child should behave. For example, a bossy parent is likely to have a bossy child—-or a submissive, insecure one, even if the parent is telling their child not to be bossy or scared.

We know from studies done all over the world that most children achieve their maximum potential when they grow up in a calm, loving atmosphere, where they are free of fear from physical or emotional harm.

What are the other important positive influences on a child growing up?

Children learn a lot from their siblings and from their playmates. Children must learn how to successfully socialize with others; it begins in the family but continues in the neighborhood and in school with same-age schoolmates.

In school children learn academics, like reading, writing, and arithmetic and they learn to study, to persist at a task, and to think logically. Just as importantly, they also learn to relate to others—socialization skills. They learn to take turns, to delay gratification, to listen to others, to form friendships, to be loyal to their friends, and many other things in school. Their primary school teachers are like their parents to them during the school day.

It isn’t always so easy being a parent.

We know that we are painting a picture that is ideal. Illness, poverty, armed conflict, substance abuse, domestic violence, family separations, physical and sexual abuse, and other difficulties are common and interfere with such a pleasant experience. Children are resilient, however; this means that, despite encountering such difficulties, given the right circumstances the negative impact of such difficulties can be minimized.

How do I help my child to be resilient?

The single most important external factor in a child’s resilience is a close, continuous relationship with an adult who is loving, calm, reassuring, and optimistic about the future. Children who are most resilient tend to be of normal intelligence, have a good ability to relate to others, and to be attractive to others.

Parenting is the most important job in the world. Parents are the keepers of the future. It may be the most difficult for many of us. But it is important to take a few deep breaths at the end of each day and have a little fun with your child: play a game, throw a ball, chat, draw, read a story to them. Your children need to spend time with you, to learn from you, and to have fun with you. It is important for them but also important for you.

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