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Title: Parenting in the 90's

Category: Positive Parenting

      Parenting in the "90's" is certainly an exciting, challenging and a somewhat scary experience.  The world is moving faster than ever and peer pressures and Madison Avenue advertising certainly keeps us on our toes as parents.  Despite the pace of life, I believe there are many things we can do to insure good healthy parenting, so that our children will grow up with a maximum healthy self-esteem and peace of mind.

      The most vital key to good parenting and what I would consider the back bone of good parenting is:

  1. The first step in good parenting is to be a good model as a parent.  So many of our qualities as men and women came from modeling our own parents.  Likewise, our children will emulate our example.  If we aspire to the higher values in life and live the Golden Rule, our children will probably grow up living their life to help and serve others and not be as wrapped up with materialism.  If we have a healthy self esteem ourselves, and are not overly nervous, anxious, and over-bearing, our kids will be more relaxed and tend to have a better impression of themselves too.  Self-esteem truly is the key to happiness, the key to holding a successful job, the key to having a good marriage, and the more we can build a strong and healthy self-esteem in our children the better they will be able to face life.

  2.  The second important step in good parenting is to show love to our children, openly and often. We should tell them that we love them and cherish them and show them on a daily basis.  One of the greatest gifts you can give to your children is to love your spouse. Let each child know that you cherish them individually and uniquely because they are "your child", and because every little thing about them is special to you.  By being surrounded by an open loving environment, they will more easily relate to friends; when older, to individuals of the opposite sex; and will find it easier to touch and to show and experience love.

  3.  The third vital step in good parenting is to practice loving, consistent discipline.  Both parents must decide what they believe in , whether it be spanking or "time-outs". Set family rules, goals values and guidelines, and stick to them.  A child in a family with no discipline is extremely insecure and truly feels unloved.  On the other hand, a family that is so strict with a "love it or leave it" attitude certainly does not give the children a feeling of belonging or a feeling of fairness.  Keep the discipline fair, appropriate and consistent, and try to teach with each disciplining experience.

  4.  The fourth vital step to good parenting is to commit time, (quality time) to your children.  There is a song that goes "The family that plays together, and prays together, stays together."  This attitude of wanting to spend time as a family playing together (sharing vacation time, weekends, etc.) and committing time to pray together (at meals, bedtime and on church days) truly will be a family that stays together.  The children in this type family will feel a sense of belonging and will enjoy family time and traditions shared together.  They will not be as apt to want to break out of the family and run away with peers when adolescence comes, and will more likely stay closer even into adulthood.

  5.  A fifth important suggestion to better parenting is to share meal time together.  When the evening meal is shared on a regular basis, as a family, with good communication (speaking and listening by each member of the family), a great feeling of togetherness and tradition within the family will happen.  This insures at least one break during the day when each family member can come together and share their thoughts and feelings with the rest of the family.  This is the optimal time to teach good communicating skills which will carry over into each child's future and help insure their success at whatever job they encounter.

  6.  The sixth suggestion for better parenting is to regulate television.  Television is a wonderful tool for teaching and exposing individuals to great cultural issues.  Nevertheless, it becomes a hypnotic influence and can waste away thousands upon thousands of hours of time with little to show for it.  The average child by age 12 has spent as many hours in front of a TV as he has in school.  He has also seen 4,000 murders on TV, in living color.  I believe many of these hours would be much better spent reading, sharing time as a family, playing in the neighborhood.

  7.  The seventh step to better parenting is to teach each child how to "set goals".  This ties in with teaching them to work for things they want in life.  Our society encourages instant gratification in all of its advertising.  This is an unrealistic attitude and the more we can teach children that if they work for things that they really want they can accomplish them through persistence and patience and hard work.  this lesson will help them throughout their lives in holding jobs and accomplishing all the necessary goals and reaching milestones that they will need to.  Along with goal setting it certainly helps to have a positive mental attitude and an attitude of doing a little extra in school and at work rather than always doing just what is necessary to get by.  The best way we can teach these qualities to our children is to model them in our own life.

  8.  "What you expect is what you get".  Expectations by us are read by our children like looking into a mirror.  Just as we read people's thoughts and feelings about us in their faces, a child reads our expectations on our faces, just like a mirror.  So, have realistic but positive expectations for each child.  Always encourage them to be their best.  Be careful not to over-pressure them with unrealistic goals.  At the same time try to challenge them to stretch their potential.

  9.  In parenting, the values we teach our children will carry them through life.  Strive to teach them the higher values in life and an attitude of living to love their fellow man and love and respect God.  Model in your own life, and thus teach such higher values as honesty, integrity, loyalty,  commitment, reverence, respect for elders, good sportsmanship, humility, and compassion.

  10.  The tenth and perhaps most important step (next to good modeling) that we can do in parenting, is to give positive affirmation.  In other words, constantly praise and show attention and appreciation for good behavior.  Notice every unique talent in each child and nurture it with enthusiastic and regular praise.  Avoid sarcasm, over-emphasis of a child's failings or negative qualities, and thus avoid squashing their fragile self-image.  Try whispering positive messages into your child's ear after they are asleep when you check on them late at night.  Notice their subconscious smile when you do this.  Let each child "be the person that they are," and help them to "like themselves."  This is probably the greatest gift we can give them and truly spells love.

      All of the above suggestions are certainly time and energy consuming and cannot be followed to the letter.  But, in general, they will make for better parenting and happier families.  Dedicate yourself to the best parenting you are capable of while your children are growing.  I promise you will be glad you did for the rest of your life.