Friday, February 25, 2011

10 Ways to Raise Children - A Father's Perspective

I want to begin this article by first saying our two girls now 21 and 25 are not without faults. When I say faults I mean all children experience life the way we all have, by trial and error. I will also qualify that statement by saying the majority of those experiences hopefully are good trials and not so bad errors. I should mention as a parent most of us feel like our children could never do anything that would make us stop loving them. I know sometimes you will wish that you would have done some things differently, but overall I hope you will feel pretty good about what you have accomplished.

To my wife and me children are blessings from God. We feel they are our number one priority until we finish equipping them with the tools of life. I must also say that I definitely do not believe that my wife and I are the perfect parents. Who are? I am venturing off somewhat of what I feel my true expertise is as a management training psychologist. I do so to create this article only because I am proud of the results we have accomplished. We have two beautiful fun loving and compassionate girls. This could not have happened without first having a best friend, partner and God fearing wife. The fact is she probably played a bigger role in the raising of our children than I did. However; we both take credit for it with unselfish and undying respect for the both of them.

I must tell you that we have made some mistakes as parents and wish that we could have done some things differently. I will say as parents when it comes to our children we should all try to do our best. We do fall short sometimes. My wife and I planned a four year difference in the birth of our children. We did so after reading studies that show decreased sibling rivalry is greater within that time span. I must tell you though it's been a dance and even sibling rivalry changes come with normal rites of passages. I can also admit that being the eternal optimist that I am I really don't think someone makes a good decision or a bad decision. It either turns out good or it turns out bad and it all depends on how you look at it. I do believe though that the journey should be as great of a reward as the arrival.

In this article I hope to give you a recipe we tried to follow as close as possible in raising our girls. Some might even say that it worked. I must admit sometimes I marvel at the results as well. The ten points I will give you are merely guidelines gathered from various symposiums studies or journals we have attended or chose as our framework and should be looked at accordingly. Having spent most of my life studying human behavior in management training the experiences we have lived prove that these ten points have high times and not so high times. Looking back however; it seems there have been very few lows. I will try to explain to some extent the meaning of each guideline from our perspective. I do hope you can strengthen your experiences and rely on your own assets accordingly should you decide to use these or combine them with your own parenting styles.


1. MODEL THE PERSPECTIVE- Now what is meant by that is follow the perspective you would like your children to follow and model that. If you model the wrong perspective they will follow in your footsteps. Children are like little mirrors they will mirror the ways you walk and the things you do. I believe they are always watching so mind your habits and routines. They truly are like little tablets waiting for you to help them write their stories in life.

2. TEACH PROBLEM SOLVING- Teach your children problem solving skills. They will not always be with mom and dad. They will be with their siblings, peers, other parents or authoritative figures at times. So give them some simple problem solving skills they can use without you. Good decisions will go a long way to keep them safe and out of harms way or caught in life's uncertain situations.

3. CREATE A SAFE HOME ENVIRONMENT- I can remember going home to my parents' house when my children were young and my wife and I were new parents. As soon as I walked through the door it was like I was off duty. I would sit in my dad's favorite chair, or out on the porch in a couch for a well deserved nap. I knew it was safe and my parents kept it that way for my sisters and me. Your children need to feel that kind of relaxation as well and their little nerve endings need to feel that way too. They definitely don't need to be on pins and needles at their one safe place that place is home.

4. PROMOTE EMOTIONAL MATURITY- Teach your children to be little adults, by that I don't mean take their childhood away from them, but just teach them to be respectable and respectful to their elders. It can take all forms from older siblings, peers or just adults. Show them what emotional maturity can give them by learning the traits of respectability. Again, I must emphasize not taking their childhood away from them, but there's a time to be a kid and a time to be a friend, a sister or a young person.

5. BE PREDICTABLE- Your children need to know that mom and dad are the same today, tomorrow and next month. Mom and dad don't go through all of these mood swings because of outside situations. Show your children your stability it will go a long way in life for the both of you. Stand by your principles and show them the difference between black, white and the gray areas through your predictability.

6. LISTEN TO SELF TALK- Listen to what your children are saying to their siblings, peers, other parents or even newcomers. They will tell you what's going on in their life and you will not be surprised unexpectedly. So listen to self talk that's the difference between perception and reality. By knowing their feelings and what the environment is for them at all times you can ward off the unacceptable or even the unthinkable.

7. PROMOTE RESPECT THROUGH EXPRESSION- By you the parents being respectful in your expression with others, your children will learn to show respect in their expressions. Everyone has an opinion and healthy expression allows the channels of communication to remain open. The best way is for you to express your respect with your wife and your wife with you. This should also be practiced with acquaintances or strangers. It really is contagious and a great redeeming attribute to value.

8. AVOID HOSTILITY- Today's world can be very hostile. Your children need to know that you avoid hostile situations for a reason and they should also. Road rage and such has prematurely ended families or the nucleus of that family because of a misjudgment of decisions and actions. You don't want to end your loving parenting style because of anger. Anger management isn't just a movie with Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler playing roles. Control is an attribute that you want your children to have and they will learn it by showing them your ability to control yourself.

9. HUSBAND LOVE YOUR WIFE-WIFE LOVE YOUR HUSBAND- I am not suggesting a public display of affection that could embarrass you or your children. However; affection through body language or touch in the home will show that love. Their future family will appreciate your timed display of affection in the home or wherever. They really do need to know that dad loves mom and mom loves dad. Parents it's the best unselfish security you can give them ever! It's a proven fact that children feel responsible for parents' disagreements many times. A great rule is don't let the sun go down on a argument. Most important tell them you love them every chance you get. You can never say it to much.

10. YOU SPELL LOVE T.I.M.E- This maybe the most important point and if you miss this one the other nine may not work successfully at all. Spend time with your children doing the things they like to do. By showing them new things and explaining the why and how of it they will cherish that time through out their life. Time as they say is a non renewable resource and believe me it can slip past you in life faster than anything else. Quality time is important I mean full attention and focus on their needs, likes and dislikes it will build trust and compassion in a child. Emotional IQ is so much more important than intellectual IQ. I can't emphasize this too much. It is definitely the most important one as a stand alone. When you don't have it you will miss it.

My oldest daughter married after college with a ready made family in a Christian husband and daughter. You would think she had given birth to her if you didn't know the difference. In today's extended family situations, compassion and love are important to all concerned. My youngest daughter will finish college this year and she is engaged to be married the fourth of July again to a strong Christian young man. What greater of a gift can parents ask for. After college and weddings my wife and I may be a little less financially ahead than we were before, but the rewards we have and will reap in their family's will be invaluable.

Now I suspect that you may never be able to do these ten things perfectly all of the time, we didn't. I do know that if you strive to apply them or something like them it will be a rewarding journey through life as a parent. I truly believe it will be as rewarding as you make it. I will share this with you and the thoughts behind it. I keep journals and have for a long time one for each of my daughters and one for my wife. I do so to tell them the things I can't tell them either because I am traveling or because it's an observation I think will give them some wisdom or pleasure after I graduate. My wife says it is morbid and it makes her tear up whenever I mention them. I think it will be a gift to them I hope that can keep giving even after I am gone. I hope they can agree some day it's a gift as well.

Now through all of this I wish you many happy fun filled parenting years! I hope you look as forward to your years of blessings, for the time you will have tried to spend productively in the lives of your children. Someday, if not now, they will be thankful that you loved them enough to give them that advantage in life because of your parenting efforts.

This comes from a parent that had great parents. A parent who learned a great deal of shortcuts, pleasures and great emotional rollercoaster's in life because of those parents! It was also possible because my wife was in total agreement of our responsibility and our honor to be able to do so. Ultimately it was all God's doing. And if I didn't mention him enough he understands why! He is the true parent the teaching parent!

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