Instructions Not Included
We’re all concerned about education, our children’s education, that is. But have we stopped to think about our education? Not our education for our careers; no, our education for our most important job, that of parenting. Now, how was it that you got your parenting job? Did you fill out an application, did you get a certificate or a degree verifying your qualifications for the job, did you have an interview?
Well, of course I’m speaking tongue in cheek, but nonetheless the job of being someone’s parent is huge, perhaps overwhelming at times, and certainly vital. The Center understands your need and continues to make efforts to support you in your job as your child’s parent. Our latest effort was to bring to you the opportunity to meet with a parent education expert from Dallas, Texas, who spent two days in seminar with our staff.
With about 45 parents gathered on a recent Friday evening, parent educator and consultant, therapist, former middle school principal, and author of several parenting books, Mike Brock began his parent education class, and just in the nick of time. Everyone in the audience was already a parent, had that job, that most important of all jobs, and needed some education, even if it was only on-the-job-training, even for only 90 minutes.
So, you might ask, those of you who missed the session, what wisdom was presented, what lessons were offered, what was learned? Mike Brock’s theme was timely, just before the holiday gift-giving frenzy. The title of the lesson was “Raising Respectful, Responsible Children in an Increasingly Self-Indulgent World.” He cited three keys to raising respectful and responsible children: affirmation in the home, contribution in the home, and emotional stability in the home. Let’s look at each key.
Affirmation in the home comes about when parents nurture their child’s nature instead of trying to make their child into something she isn’t or can’t be. Affirmation in the home comes about when parents model respectful behavior, when parents treat their children and talk with their children as respectfully as they treat and talk to their friends. Affirmation in the home comes about when parents love their children unconditionally, not depending upon how they behave or how they do in school, but just because of who they are. Affirmation in the home comes about when children are supported and develop healthy self-esteem, not high, obnoxious self-esteem, or low, empty self-esteem.
Contribution in the home teaches children responsibility. To learn how to be responsible, children must be given responsibilities. They must have jobs that they do in their homes. The adults must tell the children which jobs are available and the children may have some say in which jobs they do. There may be a rotation or a selection, that’s up to you, but the jobs give the children responsibilities and also give the children confidence in their own skills. Some people call these household jobs “chores” and there isn’t any money given for these chores. We all do our part to support our family. There can also be jobs that are for hire, for which someone would be paid, and that someone could be a child. For example, washing a car could be a job that would normally be for hire that a child could do and receive compensation, but setting the table would be a chore that one does as a helpful member of a family. Contribution in the home teaches children responsibility.
Emotional stability in the home is found foremost around the family dinner table where conversation abounds and everyone participates. Emotional stability is threatened when parents invite others into the home who have very different values and who teach children those values. Who would invite such unwanted guests, you ask? Parents do, unwittingly, when they let their children watch so much TV, play video games, or use the Internet. Instead, emotional stability in the home is found when parents and children spend time together and share activities, like playing board games or card games together. Emotional stability in the home is found where children learn the difference between what they want and what they need through the careful distribution of gifts or goods and through lessons about giving to others. Emotional stability in the home is found in family meetings where the family machine is oiled and finely tuned, where boundaries are established and problems solved, and where everyone is acknowledged.
Raising respectful and responsible children requires that parents learn what their job is and learn how to do it by getting educated. Our children didn’t come with instructions and we’re not omnipotent.
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Director/Elementary 1 Teacher