Conscious Parenting: How NOT To Damage Your Kids
Given what passes for “parenting” these days, it seems that anything goes. That’s a problem.
Being a parent is not so much a biological outcome than it is a real conscious, determined effort to love, support and nurture a child throughout the various stages of his/her life.
Being a parent constitutes a focused commitment to rearing offspring with the correct norms and mores of society, which thrives on respectful, functioning members. Indeed, for a society to really prosper (aside from a robust socio-economic and political foundation etc.), it is imperative for its members to operate with compassion and consideration for others. Parents are ultimately responsible for imparting positive societal values to their children and setting the example, which will be the blueprint for how they conduct themselves and live their own lives.
It is ridiculous to think that children will “pick up” these important values automatically as they grow. Children act on what they see, and these principles do not automatically spring out of a void. Parental influence must be exerted if children are to learn and exhibit the behaviors and traits they will need to be useful members of society. Too often we as parents surrender our responsibility of child rearing, leaving it to the educational system to provide the important life lessons, which children must learn. Of course, teachers have their role in shaping young minds, but they should never be expected to take the place of the parent. It is really up to the parent to ensure that their children are equipped with, at the very least, basic mental, spiritual and emotional tools he/she will need to be confident, fulfilled and enthusiastic participants in life. Yet, when children grow, seemingly without any sense of awareness or thought for others, we might be tempted to assign blame where it does not belong. It is too easy to point fingers at the failings of the school system, the wider society, systemic racism and economic vulnerabilities, etc. This is not to say that these factors do not play a part in creating pain, disparity and dysfunction, because they most certainly do. But perhaps we also need to take a closer look at how some of us approach our duties as our children’s primary care givers and teachers.
Parenting is not easy and, sadly, many of us damage our children without meaning to. Sometimes we don’t realize the deleterious effect our own actions can have on our children, who observe, digest and often emulate our behavior. Again, it is important to remember that children act on what they see and hear, and then become what they see and hear. When one parent demeans the other, or displays belligerent, anti-social behavior tinged with prejudice and bigotry, a child will view such as normal and acceptable behavior. Parents who allow their children to witness sexually overt or sexually deviant behavior aren’t doing their kids any favors either. When we as parents display weakness of character, or demonstrate a lack of integrity and various other moral and social deficiencies, our children have very little to draw from by way of examples of how to create and sustain honest, positive and wholesome relationships.
Parenting for a positive outcome is a delicate balancing act. Children should be encouraged to be who they were meant to be. But this does not mean that they should be raised without discipline. We want our children to grow up to be strong, successful, self-sufficient and self-motivated adults. That is as it should be. We’d all like our children to become caring, thoughtful adults. We dream of the day when they rise to be greater than we ourselves thought we could ever be. But our propensity to rehash ancient episodes of hurt, and our constant displays of fear, negativity and insecurity make for none of the above as our children grow into adulthood.
Instead, the task parenting is to shelter, shield, encourage, guide, teach and lead by example. Good parenting is not about stifling a child’s natural sense of wonder, excitement, joy and curiosity. These traits should be celebrated and protected, while at the same time balanced with discipline, structure, love, patience, kindness and understanding. These gentle touches of humanity are at the heart of successful child rearing.
The children of today are the leaders and caregivers of tomorrow, and any farmer will tell you that you “reap what you sow.” Our future and the future of generations to come lie in the hands of the children we are shaping today. Who are we putting out there? What kind of legacy are we building through our children? Parents, beware.