Parenting is never an easy task. And those who say it otherwise, well, what are you drinking and may I have some of that? As a mom, an aunt, a sister, and a godmother, I’ve learned many things about being a parent and the wonders never cease me. Back when I was a preschool teacher, I thought learning all about children would help me learn about the wonders of the world. But as a parent, I realize that you never stop learning about what children can do and what parents can do to become better parents. Anybody can be a mom or a dad, but what does it take to be a real parent?
There are some pretty wonderful parents out there who do right by their kids as much as they can. There are also some pretty crazy people out there who call themselves parents but rarely puts their children first. I’m not one to judge as parenting is truly the hardest vocation possible, but if you open a newspaper page nowadays or glance at the headlines on the internet, you see some crazy stuff that just makes you cringe. And it’s the crazy stuff that I see on TV or read in newspapers that has me wondering if this world will ever be a perfect place?
While kids are young, parents should do their best to instill a good sense of value and integrity in their hearts and minds. Adults may not be perfect and although we all have our triumphs and downfalls, sometimes grownups don’t see the bigger picture ahead of them. We may let our children down sometimes and we may even wonder if we’re ever doing the right things, but we should never use children for our own selfish reasons. My friends and I often laugh at all the strange and dumb things that parents do, but when it comes down to it, we all need some kind of guideline. Whether the rules are set within our own beliefs or from experts, lines must be crossed as to the right and the wrong things that parents must do. So my friends and I came up with a list of “10 Things Parents Should Never Do”. I’m sure most of you have seen or heard of these acts and some may ring too true in your ears, but it’s good to have a refresher now and then.
1 – Never leave your children alone in a house or car. You’ve all heard about the incident when the parent leaves his/her child in the car to get “something real quick” from the store. Next thing they know, their car is stolen and their child is abducted. Alone in the house is even scarier as you may never know what could happen. Even if there were times when you might think it’s okay to leave them alone for a few minutes and depending on the age, think twice about it.
2- Never make promises you can not keep. I know this is a hard one because with a screaming child demanding candy, video games, insert your own demands here – you want to promise them something, anything to get them to calm down. Well, most kids are pretty smart in that they’ll remember the promise you made and will forever hold you to it. And if you keep making empty promises, then they won’t take you seriously.
3- Never make threats (or empty ones). Threats are like threading a needle without glasses. You make many attempts to get it through, but in the end it become a struggle between you both. And then what are you teaching your children with threats? Basically you’re telling them that you can say it, but if you don’t follow through on them, then why bother making them? Gentle persuasion is usually the best option.
4- Never judge them too quickly. Children learn at a very young age about love and hate. And although young chidren have an altruistic trait in them and that they love their parents unconditionally, if you judge your children constantly, they’ll soon develop self-doubt.
5- Never give young children dangerous toys. What’s a dangerous toy? Well, depending on the age, it could virtually be anything. But mostly things like toy guns (I can’t believe they still make and sell them!) or anything that resembles a gun; things that can hurt themselves or others; and things that teach them to be volatile. And if people give these dangerous toys to your kids, throw them away or kindly tell the gifter that you don’t allow those kinds of toys for your kids. Although most older kids know the difference between a dangerous toy and a safe one, young children usually don’t.
6- Never discipline when you’re angry. Face it, we all get angry at our kids at one time or another. Heck, we get angry at other adults too. But most adults can handle a mean word or two but not little children. When you’re about to discipline your children while you’re still heated up, calm down and rethink your course of action in the proper ways of discipling his/her actions.
7- Never misjudge someone else’s intent. You are your child’s best parent after all. If you’re a new parent, you’ll probably get more advice than a 1000-page parenting book. And although some advice may be worthy, your instincts are what guides you as a parent. Just like the well-intended parent who gave you an advice you’re still scratching your head over.
8- Never criticize. I know it may be a tough one because we’re humans after all, but criticizing younger children gets you nowhere. In fact, it may create self-doubt with your children and with yourself.
9- Never embarrass your children in public. It may be okay to tease your kids now and then, but if it’s going to embarrass them, then skip it. Kids get embarrassed rather easily as they are still trying to figure out their roles in life, and when their own parents are embarrassing them on purpose, they’ll soon learn to put up a facade that can be dangerous.
10- Never leave their side. Okay, this may sound like paranoid parenting, and yes eventually your kids will have to leave for college, get married, start a family of their own, etc. But while they are still young, adults need to be reassured just as much as children. Of course you don’t have to be overprotective either, but it’s wise to see the bigger picture now and then.
I’m sure there are many things to add to this list as hopefully people get wiser and learn from their mistakes (or other people’s mistakes). Whether you’re a young parent, a first time parent, or a marathon parent, you’re never too old to learn about parenting. Parenting is like a seesaw. Sometimes you’re up high and you can see for miles ahead. Sometimes you sink down low and you wonder if you’ll ever see what’s ahead of you. But if you take a step back to look at the overall goal, then you and your children will hopefully grow up one day and realize hey, it’s okay to make mistakes just as long as you learn from them and move on.