When I view the news reports of how violent and disruptive children have become, it saddens me. This rampage of violence is not only hindering children’s focus on learning, it is destroying neighborhoods and wiping out families. Yet, in the midst of those troubling events, I am overwhelmed by a rush of admiration and appreciation for my parents. Of course, there is no single answer or solution for reversing this trend, but I can’t help but reflect upon the fact that good parenting plays a major role in establishing the character of the world. For that reason, I believe it is time for parents to roll up their sleeves, put down the television remote, and start parenting for the change that they would like to see.
There appears to be some confusion in the world of parenting—or maybe an entire generation did not get the memo. Parenting is not an easy task; just when you think you’ve gotten the hang of it—you find out you need more clues. The question that parents are faced with is, “Where do I go for guidance?” Even when successful strides have been made in the right direction, some parents are still baffled as to how they pulled it off. For those of you who are sitting, holding your head in your hands, dreaming of an empty nest—your assignment is not over yet.
Parenting is likely the most difficult and unpredictable undertaking anyone will ever encounter. It is not an impossible task, and many parents have done fantastic jobs of raising great children. Those parents have enjoyed the rewarding aspects; however, they have no formula to pass on. Trust that they encountered obstacles and challenges, as well as conflicts. Good parenting occurs when guidelines and boundaries are created, maintained and enforced. Children respect rules and restrictions if they are introduced to discipline early in life. Morals and self-respect can also be instilled at an early age.
My personal observation has brought me to the conclusion that the breakdown in values may have occurred when many parents swore that they would not raise their children in the same manner in which they were raised. That is how friends and family of my generation felt. As a young adult, I might have entertained similar thoughts. When I was growing up, obedience was not an option, nor was it a bargaining tool. Although I thought my parents were tough, I must admit that the values, ethics, and honesty which came from my upbringing have made me a self-respecting individual of good character. Parents want the best for their children; they mistakenly think that catering to children is the way to gain love and respect from them. It is fine to try a new way of parenting if you feel it is best for your child, but you need to set guidelines that help instill ethical values. It’s kind of like allowing your child to ride in the car without a child-safe seat or restraint. If you fail to take a stand or if you cater to the child’s wish, the consequences could be life threatening. Until children can make their own responsible decisions, a good parent is an extension of the child-safe seat. Parenting has to begin when children are young; they need to grow into the morals and develop good character, traits that will help them to become well-rounded individuals. Good parenting combines discipline, rewards, and bonding in a way that leads children to view discipline and guidance as a life style—not as a threat.
I am certain that if each parent commits to doing something positive to effect a change in a child’s life style, the results will be positive. The action can be as simple as encouraging your child to create a fun outing for the family; if there are other children in the household, get them involved in the process. This will give your children a reason to want to come home. Encourage them to work with you on safe computer sites to find great weekend events; this provides a sense of purpose for children. Establish a partnership within the family; create a village setting. If each family can take their children off the streets by reducing idle time, lives will be saved. Additionally, a positive step will have been made to add value to the community, as well as to create safe areas for children to grow and learn.
Network with other parents in the community; meet at the library to gather new ideas for motivating your children. Get involved in the PTA; find more parents who share your concerns and are ready to make beneficial changes. When good parenting becomes your focus, children are inclined to apply themselves in school. When children are inspired to learn, teachers are inspired to focus on being better educators. It takes the combined efforts of an entire community to effect changes, but parents have a responsibility to instill good morals in their children. Leave more time for teachers to teach by taking advantage of the time you have for parenting.
Many say that there is no hope for this generation—I say as long as they are present on earth, there is hope. My hope is that parents would reach back to grasp inspiration from past generations. Share stories of your childhood, especially events where you had to overcome and persevere. Children need to understand that valuable lessons are learned from challenges and obstacles. As well, you should introduce your children to all of the wonderful people who have passed so many great traits and skills on to them—all you need to do is take a trip down memory lane.
I published the following blog post in August of 2009:
A Trip Down Memory Lane Could Guide You to a Brighter Future
The past is merely a story that was begun in our childhood years. It is etched in the memory from a child’s prospective. In order to gain the power that the past holds for your present and future, you need to reevaluate bad or troubling memories–from an adult prospective. You might have to go back several times. The great news is that you will be enlightened, inspired and empowered. Avoid holding on to unhappy memories; they will surely form an unhappy present and future. The adult version of the story will help you to see yourself and your family in a new light. The best way to release yourself from the past is to review your story. You will laugh, you might cry, but you will feel a renewed sense of admiration for the people who raised you and protected you in the best way they knew. Move forward with the positive aspects, which are the memories that will help you to grow. These memories will also give you a better prospective for enhancing your parenting skills. A child’s mind could never have found logic in why parents protected and cared for us the way they did. Now that we have become parents, it all makes more sense…well most of it.
When I created that blog post, I felt the power, strength, and pride that the people from my past would want me to pass on. Help your children to find inspiration and appreciation–relive fond memories with them. Help them to find role models and heroes right on their own family tree. Heroes are not always found in a big bright spotlight. We are surrounded by, and influenced by unsung heroes who come into our lives to share their special talents and gifts. They make our lives better; sometimes they are not noticed or acknowledged at all. Add value to your children’s lives by helping them connect to the unsung heroes–family members who can inspire and motivate them to follow their dreams.
Finally parents, your children deserve your undivided attention; they are worth it. So, it is time to be parents who effect positive changes that can stop the destruction of our youth. Morals and ethics are lacking in individuals who act violently. The trend has to change; it has gone on for too long. Parenting for a change will make a difference—one family at a time.
(Parenting for a Change received Honoralble Mention in the 80th Annual Writer’s Digest Writers Competition, December, 2011)