“A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” – Lao Tzu
And this journey we are referring to is one of being a parent. Literally, itdoes start with a first step, doesn’t it i.e. when you hold your bundle of joyin your arms. And it is one that never ends…
While we all can hold forth on the subject of parenting (and this being truefor even those who are not parents!), have you ever pondered about what theword actually means? According to Wikipedia, Parenting refers to theactivity of raising a child rather than the biological relationship. It isthe process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional,social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy toadulthood. Essentially, it is a process that focuses on wholesome development.
There is no doubt that raising a child is the most important responsibilitymany of us have. And it is surprising that for something so important we getsurprisingly little help. No one would drive a car/cycle without training, butoften we become parents with little background or preparation. So is therereally something we can do to prepare ourselves?
Preparing to Parent
- A good place to start really is to introspect about your own experience.Many of the basic parenting skills we acquire are from our personal experience,i.e. from our parents, just as they learnt from theirs.
- Books can be great source of instrikeation and practical advice as could befriends, family and well wishers. Ask around and ask for help!
- Learning about the development of children could also stand you in goodstead. It may be important to understand genetics, which in children reallystresses the fact that each individual/child is distinct. No two children arealike, not even twins and therefore a ‘one size fits all’ does not work.
- It could also be important to discuss with your spouse what kind ofparenting style you would like to have. While this will evolve and mature, asyou yourself will as a parent, it is always wise to be on the same side as acouple when trying to raise a child.
- And most importantly be prepared to learn, be frustrated and feel joy thatyou may not have felt before.
These are no doubt complex times to raise a child. Family structures havechanged, e.g. take the concept of nuclear families, or of double incomefamilies where both the spouses are bread earners! The world is far morecompetitive, fast paced and fractured making it essential for us as parents tofocus on not only bringing up a well educated child, but also a happy andhealthy one.
Which really brings us to an important question, are there anytruths/steps/guidelines/commandments that ensure good parenting?