Last time we started a discussion on the critical needs of our children and how important it is for the managing parents to be observant and vigilant making sure that healthy development stays on track. The goals of effective parents are to strengthen families by providing meaningful, appropriate environments and support, fostering the best conditions for the healthy growth of each other and their children.
Effective parents commit to their child's well-being, to giving true love, nurturing, guiding, educating, and protecting their children from birth to adulthood. They work to meet the needs of their children in a respectful, responsive and supportive relationship. They are a child's first and most influential teachers, and they are the primary decision-makers bringing their own goals, values and beliefs to their role.
To help parents better understand their critical jobs, there are three major influences that impact the caregivers’ lives.
1. A child comes with his/her own temperament, patterns of growth, birth order, gender and physical being. Parents, each father and mother, also bring all of these qualities, plus a complex history of world experience and a pattern of daily life. All these complex factors have to combine into an effective team.
2. Critical support for parents come from each other, the partnership itself, the family and friends and a nourishing community.
3. Parental expectations create standards that can help or block development of selves and children. Parents need to create reasonable and sensitive expectations for themselves and their children.
Then, there are four major keys that support the influences, helping children to succeed in school and in life:
First, there’s YOU, The Individual. Who you are. Your health, physically, emotionally, psychologically. Your level of adult maturity and concern about the care and welfare of your children, the desire to give them the best of you. Your children come with their own givens, just as parents do with their unique biology which will be impacted by the living environment.
Next, there are the OTHERS. All members of the caregiver team, biological partners especially, should “be ready” to assume the awesome responsibility of guiding children. Who are they, and how healthy are they and how healthy are the relationships between those who are the primary caregivers.
Of course, there’s HOME, where the family lives and grows. Is the home (or homes in many cases) healthy, where love and care are evident with constant efforts made to
create the best homes that they can be? Or are they something else that may lead down unhealthy roads?
The fourth key is KNOWLEDGE, the continuing and sincere search for information, resources and education that will help all the caregivers and the children grow well and live successful lives as children and adults. There have to be desire, commitment and effort to seek whatever skills are available to get the growing work accomplished.
For these keys to unlock the best development for all, there has to be the knowledge that the keys exist and that they unfold as a map to follow. Knowledge is the major key to our being effective; education plus experience develops that needed knowledge.
As parents learn more and more they will discover that the parenting styles practiced in the homes will be an important factor for success. Next time we will go into detail about the practices used and what works best in most cases. To give you a preview there are three basic kinds of parenting styles: autocratic, permissive and authoritative. Each has been given other names by different authorities, and we’ll cover those next time. Until then…
Don’t lose heart.
Jim R. Rogers, M.Ed., CFLE, is a parent and family life educator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org