There is good merit and lasting fulfillment to developing a well-adjusted child in a supportive and responsive environment featuring independence, maturity, self-reliance, self-control, curiosity, friendliness and achievement.
With Independence Day drawing near, it makes me think about another twist regarding this important day. My kids' independence. The web offers a long list of parenting styles and opinions on what’s the best way to parent your children. I recall shortly before the web came into play, we had to rely on books written by doctors.
Even after divorcing, (the same year as the advent of the world wide web) I had no desire to use the internet for parenting-- I knew what was important.
Today everyone has an opinion on the matters of raising children, including me. My thoughts are based on my personal experiences raising children through three phases of marital status: marriage, co-parenting, and then single parenting with an absent ex-spouse when I achieved full custody.
My only request, and only discussion on the matter of raising children incidentally, to my kid’s mom was no hitting. Spanking as a discipline was how she was raised and preferred to stay with that approach. I grew up in a household where a belt was used.
I knew before my 21st birthday that I wanted children and I wanted it to be different. I wanted more involvement and engagement in my children’s lives. I thought about more availability to intellectual, emotional, and shared activities.
I thought about a good balance of clearly stated, high demands with emotional responsiveness and respect for my child's autonomy. I would promote an atmosphere where I could teach values and good virtue. I would make my children a priority and I never waivered from this approach, even through three phases of household status.
From the time my little ones began running through the home with self-confidence, we moved their activity to the playground. In my opinion, this was where and when my children were ready (and with the right dynamics and atmosphere in place) for me to encourage and cultivate their liberties.
Here there was room to explore, make friends, show off, fall and get hurt, be humbled, cry, find empathy in others, get acquainted, and soar with excitement and enthusiasm among other benefits. I watched carefully on how each responded to all these dynamics surrounding the playground.
Scrapes and bruises were plenty-- each child would seek out my comfort for all dilemmas initially. As long as each child knew and trusted my availability was just a few steps away, they would gain confidence in their new world. Sometimes comfort that I was near is all that was needed and maybe a Band-Aid other times.
I let my loved ones run the gamut-- engaging when time warranted and letting them soar when they released me. My confidence and beaming smile may have been their inspiration. My outward and embracing arms would become a landing and launching pad for each. As they grew older, the surroundings and environment changed, though my endearing and inspiring confidence remained with my smiling face.
From the household to the playground to more structured environments such as school, organized sports, or any other set of a number of intellectual and/or physical interactive interests, new stepping stones provided overall inspired them to take larger steps. My unwavering support was always in play.
Here are five staples I developed for my children:
Learn to take Risk. Taking risks is ok, if your child understands and is ready to accept the consequences. Risk isn't a word we normally choose when talking with our children. We all know risks too well as adults. As a child and especially into our teens we never labeled it "risks". It may have been referred to simply as taking chances, not thinking, or maybe just a little too much fun. Are you with me?
Learn to help themselves. Perhaps the hardest part of being a parent is watching your child fall; the proverbial face plant in the midst of one of life’s critical moments. There is no guidebook on how a child should endure life’s little challenges. How you handle your observations, from a parent point of view is what separates you from the pack.
Learn to get involved. Even at the very lowest recreational level, sports or any engaging activity can expose a child to social interaction influenced primarily by positive situations. In this example I use sports. If recognized and supported properly this can help build character in your child. Exposure to sports at any level will open your child to issues, which parallel life in general.
Learn from structure. Build routine into your child’s lives. Allow them to be and feel safe with their new arrangement. Make your children your priority. Find and create as much time as possible with your kids.
Learn from good discipline. Finding the right balance that works with your child is your prerogative, within reason of course. What would happen if you were to start reasoning with your child with rationale and a good understanding of the issues as if you were... mentoring.
Photo courtesy "sheknows.com"
© 2014 Bruce Buccio