As parents our most valuable assets are our children, and yet so often out of our own needs and desires, we forget they are their own unique people. Out of good intentions and sometimes our own unresolved issues we can become controlling or coercive, robbing our children of the freedoms they need for their own growth. Parenting requires we find the balance between loving our children, disciplining them and allowing them the necessary confusion and suffering essential for their self-discovery. All children have some very basic needs, which when given in the correct balance, help them to develop the resiliency required for a strong sense of Self.
All children need love. All children deserve love. We can give our children too many "things" and we can award them "pleasures" they do not deserve, but these pleasures only serve to make them feel empty if they were not rightfully earned. When we love with "things" we raise entitled kids who have low capacities to experience lasting joy. What we can never give too much of to our children is our love. Love is simple, it is nonmaterial and is the feeling we give our children of complete acceptance. We love them because love is what they deserve.
Raising children is scary and as parents we can get so caught up in fear we forget to have faith. Our belief in our children determines their belief in themselves. When our children feel dominated by our fears about every new little thing they want to do, explore or experience our fears covertly communicate we do not believe in them. This covert message undermines our children causing them to either not believe in themselves or to rebel against the controlling nature of our fears. We must have faith in our children and give them the rope they need to struggle, discover and succeed.
When our children feel we are confident in them, they are naturally more confident in themselves. When we behave contentiously towards them, showing a lack of trust in their character or ability to make wise decisions we go against them, putting us on different teams. We have to accept, as parents, that our children are different and unique people from us. We need to allow them the space to be different and to trust we have raised them well enough for them to make mistakes, recover and do better next time. If we respond contentiously to towards their mistakes or decisions we slowly crush their own drives for self-improvement.
Parenting is challenging because we have an idea of what we think is best for our children and we can over pressure them to be the image we hold of them. However, our children need our patience not our pressure. They need for us to give them a little rope to come along at their own pace. Each child's development is on its own unique course. If they are not up to par in every area of life, adding pressure and control only defeats them. Patience communicates we believe, that in time and with enough practice, they will find their way. If we over pressure them we kill their spirits and perhaps even their motivation. We do not want to raise children who only feel loved if they are performing. They aren't monkeys.
Touch is one of the most important and grounding aspects of a relationship. Touch cues our hormones for bonding, love and a sense of security and has shown to have an immediate impact on reducing stress levels. Our children are going to go through the same hell as any other human being. When we see them struggling it is not helpful for us to heap our own anxieties about their struggle onto them. We need to offer affection and support, letting them know that "this too shall pass." A little affection is that spoon full of sugar that helps the pain go down. Talk to your children, love, and snuggle them; do not shout at them.
Our role as parents is to provide feedback to our children which is conducive to the building of their character. When we criticize, yell, berate or become passive-aggressive they cannot grow. They will shrink or become enraged and develop negative feelings about themselves, their capabilities and about us. When we rob our children of their pain and we do not allow them the possibility of failure, then we also rob them of their pursuit of happiness. Our children need our counsel to understand that the most important part of life is the worthwhile struggle of discovering a sense of meaning and purpose.
Each child is here in this life to be their own person. They are not here to be like us, they are not here to be as-good-as or better-than their siblings, peers or the children of our friends. When we compare our children we are telling them they are not as good as others. This undermines motivation and makes them feel a lack of their own personal significance. There is no comparison. You can only compare someone to themselves, and even then we all have bad times in life we wish to move past. If we use comparison, it should only be used as an example of how far our children have come from where they were before. Use compassion instead of comparison.
It is our role to teach our children right from wrong, but it is not our right to decide who they are supposed to be. As parents we need to stay away from controlling, manipulating and pulling our children away from their natural interests. We must allow them to explore their own decision making process in lei of making decisions for them. If we show disgust or disappointment over their choices because they aren't the choices we would have made then we are manipulating. For us to be great leaders we need to live lives we love, to have a purpose beyond our children so we don't need to live our lives and all of our own unrealized dreams through our children. It is not their responsibility to make up for what we are missing in our own lives.
If you do not respect your children, they will in turn learn not to respect you. Children will do as you do, not as you say. They are not going to respect you simply because you are an adult. They can only respect an adult who respects them. If you ridicule them, they will ridicule and disobey you. If you want to be respected by them, respect yourself and show them what that looks like. Most importantly respect them; it is through the respect given to them that they naturally learn to respect themselves and you. If you are emotionally immature as a parent and you rage, ridicule, tantrum and ignore your children you teach them to respond to you and to life in that exact same way.
Children need your love, time and attention. There is no substitute for you. Never let babysitters, iPads, videogames or other things become the parent or caretaker of your children. We are a working society and all have obligations but children must come first. Make daily time to spend with your kids in whatever capacity you can appropriate to their developmental level. With a teenager it may only be 5 to 10 minutes of facetime with them and that may be all they need, but make sure they get it. Whenever our children are in need, they need to know we will be present.