First off, let me say that I do not have children. I like them, they usually like me, but I’ve never procreated. I have nieces and nephews and a lot of my friends have kids, so I have some idea of the concept.
So here’s my tips in raising your kids (from someone who doesn’t have them):
1. Love them UNCONDITIONALLY. Tell them often that you love them no matter what, and mean it. No matter of they are gay, bisexual, transgender, handicapped, fat, ugly, lazy, or any other “infliction” people may use to disown a child. Children (and we all were children once) have no choices in life when it comes to sexuality, genetics, medical issues, etc.
2. Tell them no once in a while. Don’t give them everything they want. It is your job to give them what they NEED, but not always what they want. You’d have to have and endless supply of money to satisfy the wants of a child, but your job isn’t to give them every little thing they want. Teach them to earn that on their own.
3. Set a good example. If you have bad habits you don’t want your child to have, you need to get rid of your own habits first. If you curse, they will repeat it (side note: children cussing is hilarious to me, but then again they aren’t my children). If you lie, they will think it is okay to do so too. If you have a bad temper and yell and throw things, they will too. And so on and so on. Children are like little sponges, if the see/hear it, they will repeat it.
4. Don’t repeat the mistakes your parents made with you. No one had the perfect childhood, don’t even lie and say you did. Either your dad worked too much, or your mom missed your school play because she had other plans, or some one was drunk all the time. Whatever your circumstances were, make them better for your own child. Learn from your past, then change your (and your children’s) future.
5. Let them fail occasionally. That’s how lessons are learned. You cannot be there to do things for them or to correct all their shortcomings all their life. They need to do it on their own. No one ever learned anything by having someone else do it for them.
6. Encourage them. Encourage them to try new things, to do more of the things they excel at, to learn all they can, to continue on even if they fail, and most importantly, encourage them to be who they are (not who you want them to be). If they know they have your support, they will grow up to be better, happier adults.
7. Don’t micromanage their lives. I know it’s a hot button issues these days, but you don’t need to be in the presence of your child 24/7. I am not against children playing in the yard unattended, or riding their bike to a friend’s house down the street. Be safe about it, but if you are overly paranoid about them being abducted (and I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but it’s rare) or someone will do them harm, they will pick up on your paranoia. You don’t want to raise a scared, reclusive, paranoid child do you? Kids shouldn’t worry about that. Know what they are up to, set limits, give them time frames and teach them to become responsible.
8. Communicate with them. Ask them about their day, their friends, their lives, their school. Encourage them to ask questions of you. Keep the lines of dialogue open. If you constantly treat them as a nuisance, they will eventually stop coming to talk to you all together and they will no longer listen to you either.
9. Teach them. Children are curious by nature. They want to know how everything works, where things come from, why things happen. Tell them! They won’t be good at tasks at first, nor will they excel at anything right off the bat, but teaching is a never ending process. Somethings they may never learn, but at least they tried. Their minds are burning with questions, answer them to the best of your ability. If you lie to them and they learn the truth later, they will start to lose trust in you – the one person they should trust the most.
10. Set rules and boundaries, and stick to punishments for overstepping them. Trust is a two way street. They need to know that they can trust you and much as you trust them. If that trust is broken, they need to learn there will be consequences. If you back down, they will no longer take you seriously. If they learn early in life there are consequences to their actions, that lesson will stick with them later in life also.
I’m sure I could sit here all night and prattle on about specific things you should do for/with your child, but I am not their parent…you are. Sometimes you have to do what works for you. These are things that stick out at me though. Things I don’t see, or that I have seen that work.
I see a lot of kids nowadays that are just spoiled brats, and I wonder if their parents raised them that way, or if their parents were also that way and just didn’t know any better when having their own kids.
I know there is no “right” way to parent. And no one is ever going to produce a perfect child. You have to do what is right for your situation, but take care of the child. Love the child. And don’t raise them to be little shits.
Thanks for listening.