“I am a very involved parent with three children under the age of ten. They are polite and usually good with one another. My girls are more into school than is my son, but they are all good students. Each has their own distinct personality. My son is considerably shyer than the girls, and will make comments like, “well, I can do that too” when one of the girls excels at something. I want to raise my kids to reach their full potential, but not have an unhealthy competition with each other. My husband is in full agreement. However, when our son is whiny, he’ll respond with “knock it off”, while I’m more sympathetic. Do you have any ideas about how we can raise our children to be productive, loving adults?”
Parents Looking For Good Ideas
Dear Good Parents,
While there is no sure fire method of guaranteeing raising happy, successful human beings, there are some basic premises that increase the odds of success. While we understand the old saying, “two heads are better than one”, the same holds true with parenting. While many single parents succeed at raising good children, two loving parents are better than one. Having an appropriate male and female role model increases the odds that the kids have a template of a good man and a good woman. If one is single, having a good opposite gender role model, such as a devoted grandparent, is an important addition. In the case of this letter, we are dealing with the loving inquiry of what sounds like a good mother and father.
Showing proper respect for each other lays the groundwork for the children to do the same as they grow older. Problems the parents deal with in an appropriate fashion lays the same important example. Kids don’t get confused when their Dads tell them to suck it up, and the Mom is more tender or sympathetic. Each parent has their own role. Sometimes we swap roles with each other, and the kids just adapt. I find that making kids feel important helps their self esteem. Asking their opinions is a cool boost. In work projects, helping them to succeed in the task at hand, from homework to mowing the lawn, to re-arranging a room is an important lesson in the positive value of work. Doing it with them means that the job is not beneath the dignity of the parent. Plus, it’s loving time spent with the parent, which is a very positive reinforcement for the value (and fun) of work.
Problems are inevitable, so it’s important to not take a current issue and extrapolate it into predicting a grim future. A child who lies about their involvement in an activity due to the fear of the punishment doesn’t mean we are raising a pathological liar who will now begin to lie about everything. Proper punishments (i.e., accountability) are extremely important in helping teach our kids right from wrong. In the same context, noting or rewarding good behaviors serves exactly the same important purpose.
Finally, relax and enjoy this ride. If you live to be 95 years old, you will have had your children living with you for a very small portion of your life. Practice at being amazed at this lively, loving and important time in your life. You are going to have three good nights of sleep, wake up, and they are moved out. So I remind you once again: be amazed.