Last week I shared with you my parenting approach as well as my number one resource when it comes to improving and guiding oneself in order to teach and raise our children in the way they should go. This is by reading, studying and applying the contents of The Bible to daily life.
Today I will start a three-part series of titles which have helped me crystallize my role as a parent, effectively make Gummy feel loved and appreciated.
Dr. Ruth Chang’s How To Win Your Child’s Heart: 6 Ways to PARENTing with Confidence was actually the first parenting book that affirmed my church’s “Heart Parenting” approach by being an authoritative yet loving and intentional parent. It defined my roles through an acrostic that reveal concrete ways and areas to carry out my being a parent: Praise, Acceptance, Respect, Empathize, Nurture and Train.
Children need their dose of praise or words of affirmation that they are loved even though they make mistakes; that you recognize their efforts even if their first love letter to you is made of zigzag lines. This chapter humbled me and tamed the perfectionist in me.
It taught me that it is okay for things to be messy and not polished. I learned to recognize the efforts and improvements of my child and praise her for those.
The chapter on Acceptance taught me to celebrate the uniqueness of my child and acknowledge her strengths. It reminded me that my personal dreams, insecurities and expectations should not hamper nor affect my child’s potential. That I should not impose things or interests on her and instead let her explore the world on her own and simply guide her along the way.
Respect must be taught to children, regardless of how young you think they are, to be the basic component of any relationship; and that the amount of respect is not dictated by age. Not because a child is a child the amount of respect for them is littler than that you would have for an elder.
The most effective way to teach respect is by showing it —not only by using “po” and “opo” but also by recognizing their feelings even though the behavior that manifested it was inappropriate. And if you think that comparing your child with his/her friends will motivate them, no it does not. You are actually harnessing feelings of insecurity at a very young age.
Empathy is when you feel for and with your child. It is simply hearing them out, expressing to them that you do understand how they feel and also why they feel that way. It is not discounting their feelings just because it is over “spilt milk.” I learned to make Gummy feel that her feelings are important and they matter to me, even if at times I do not agree.
The nature of being a parent is in being a nurturer. To nurture is to teach our children how to eat, proper table manners and basic values. It is to show care for them by making time to be with them, doing art even if it is messy for you, playing with them with your phone away because it will be an interruption of your precious playtime; it is by exposing them to arts, music and sports, even if it may be costly because you are keen on determining their areas of interest. It is about talking to them about how their day went, their dreams last night and their plans for the weekend; by speaking to them words that bring life and build them up. It is by touching them, caressing and embracing them – “physicalizing” your love for them.
Finally, a parent’s ultimate role is to Train their child in The Way she should go – in the ways of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
What does training consist of? Instruction, correction and modeling.
“Instruction is an ongoing process of helping a child do what is right.”
As parents we continually teach our children values and habits – how to act, talk, behave and respond in different settings. It is our job to teach them about boundaries, the negotiable and non-negotiable.
In this chapter I was reminded to make my instruction age-appropriate, and to extend my patience even more as my child will not completely comprehend things the first time it is told to her.
Correction is when inappropriate behavior or attitude must be rectified. To correct is always the goal of discipline, not to punish. There are different methods of correcting such as using consequences, taking away privileges and use of the rod.
One thing Dr. Chang wants us to remember is to always explain to our children why we had to discipline them, as well as give words of reassurance of our unconditional love for them.
Finally, to become an effective parent, we must be good models. I couldn’t emphasize enough on this in last week’s column. Children do what we do. We must be the models of the behavior we want them to have.
Parents, be mindful of what you say and do because your children will become who you are today.
To be a parent is to accept our children as unique individuals with unique gifts from God.
Our role is to provide them with the environment to realize the persons they are made to be, with the right guidance and wisdom from God.
Next week we will discuss Love, how you can effectively make your children feel it based on their Love Language.