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28 June 2007

Being a Good Parent

Too many times I have seen parents who think that because they have brought children into the world, that fact alone is enough to claim that they should have the respect of those children. Respect is something that needs to be earned. If you expect, as a parent, to have the respect of your children, then you have to earn it from them just as you have to earn it in life from others.

Frequently, having children becomes the thing to do as a natural course of events in life. We start as part of a family, we grow up, mature, develop relationships, and define our own family, with children becoming a part of that cycle.

Some people feel that having children is a way to leave something behind when they are no longer here, a way of propagating their genes, their essence, their existence with a mark. If having kids is your personal mark, then its also the responsibility of parents to make sure that the mark they do leave behind is a good one. Because that mark will always reflect who they have been parented by. It is the personal responsibility of parents to be parents and not transfer the responsibility onto someone else such as the school, or some other person or institution. Children should grow up well because of their parents, rather than in spite of their parents.

Children deserve to be accepted for who they are. They should not have to prove anything to anyone for existing. They should not be expected to do anything or to have to be anything other than what they are - unique human beings that are mold-able by the forces they are subjected to. The initial forces they are in contact with are the parents, and it's the parents who have the responsibility of instilling the first concepts of personality from which all other perceptions will be affected by: Is the world a trust-able place or not? How the parents conduct themselves in the beginning of their child's life will determine this primary perception that will influence everything the child feels, thinks and does for the rest of his or her life. The responsibility is clear. It lies with the parents and no one else. To deny this is to deny your personal responsibility as a parent and to put the very emotional health of your child at risk.

I come back to this primary perception again and again and will continue to do so in the future, because it is this concept that all other perceptions will be an outgrowth of. Is the world a trust-able place or not? If in the first few days of life the child perceives that the world he inhabits is a safe place, one that is nurturing, supportive, giving and loving, then the child will feel trust. He will respond to his/her environment in kind, and his growth will reflect this. If not, his lack of growth will also reflect this. Everything he does and feels will be focused through that mistrust. He will have difficulty feeling comfortable with others or with himself. He will have problems forming intimate relationships. He will cling to one or both of the parents because his view of his world will be that it is a threatening place, and one where he needs to defend and protect himself from at all costs. If he doesn't then the world will reject him. His feelings of his own worthiness will take the form of worthlessness. All this from that one perception of the world, all affected solely by the way his parents relate to him in the initial stage of his life.

Too often I have seen instances where the TV becomes the baby-sitter for children whose parents complain they have no time. They both work, they have two jobs. If it's not one thing it's another, but the bottom line is the parents don't have the time to spend with their children for whatever excuse they may make, it still results in the same effect: children growing up without the proper supervision. When the children begin school, parents feel relieved because now the kids are away from the home and in some magical process where they will transform into social human beings by the process of being in contact with others.

When parents have stress and pressures, too often they expect the children to understand, even though young children do not have the perceptual capability to comprehend stresses parents are experiencing. Often those stresses are so compounded that ultimately the parents may take it out on the children in the form of abuse, emotional neglect or some other harmful way that adds to accumulated mistrust the child already may have about the world he inhabits.

No one is expecting parents to be perfect. We all have problems. But if you transmit to your children that they are loved, accepted and wanted in whatever way you can, and give them the supervision, guidance and discipline when they truly need it, then their growth will reflect it.

But if things do not go well with your children, no matter what age they are, nothing you do in life will ever feel right. Joy, satisfaction, happiness will always be a glass half full and the reasons that things didn't go right with your children will haunt you over and over again, even as you assert, "I did the best I could."

This post was written by Jon Percepto from Eclectic Commons. If you are interested in contributing to the thinking process and become a guest writer on The Thinking Blog, find out more information here and be my guest!

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