What to (and not to) do as parents

The psychological aspect of this article resonates with me.  Though I am not yet a mother, I am a daughter and am able to appreciate (good or bad) parenting from that angle. It does seem that alot of harm can come from being over-protective, over-anxious parents.  In our attempt to shield our children from a world that is increasing violent and disturbing, we do so much that is perhaps unnecessary.  Is parenting that difficult?  I can understand that we all aspire to be successful parents but is it more to do with our egos than our children? The Malays and Chinese have a similar saying when a child is rude or misbehaving, “Kurang ajar” (in Bahasa which translates to you lack moral education) and “your mother didn’t teach you well” (English translation of a cantonese phase).  My Mother’s idea of raising good children was to terrorise us with threats of danger and if that failed, she would use guilt liberally (this is a typical chinese upbringing).  I didn’t have a good relationship with my Mother growing up and it is only in the last 10 years of my adult life that things have improved.  All because I stopped seeing her as a tyrant and more as a person; I stopped being afraid of her and began to understand her motivations that guided the way she parent us and those motivations were borne out of love for us. 

Snippets from an excellent article on what parents should and shouldn’t do to raise successful children:

“The happiest, most successful children have parents who do not do for them what they are capable of doing, or almost capable of doing; and their parents do not do things for them that satisfy their own needs rather than the needs of the child.”

“The central task of growing up is to develop a sense of self that is autonomous, confident and generally in accord with reality.”

“So if children are able to live with mistakes and even failing, why does it drive us crazy? So many parents have said to me, “I can’t stand to see my child unhappy.””

“Small challenges … present the opportunity for “successful failures,” that is, failures your child can live with and grow from. To rush in too quickly, to shield them, to deprive them of those challenges is to deprive them of the tools they will need to handle the inevitable, difficult, challenging and sometimes devastating demands of life.”

“If pushing, direction, motivation and reward always come from the outside, the child never has the opportunity to craft an inside.”

“A loving parent is warm, willing to set limits and unwilling to breach a child’s psychological boundaries by invoking shame or guilt.”

“Parents also have to be clear about their own values. Children watch us closely. If you want your children to be able to stand up for their values, you have to do the same.


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