What is parenting?
Parenting is the process of rearing children from conception till they become adults. It Involves providing for and promoting the child’s physiological, emotional, social and intellectual needs till they are fully grown. Parenting is not limited to biological parents but extends to other caregivers who play a role in the growth and development of the child. However, the biological parents, if alive, bear the greatest responsibility to raise the child in the most acceptable manner.
Issues affecting parenting in Africa
The role each parent plays in the child’s growth •Some parents and caregivers abdicate their roles and assume the other party will take up the responsibility. In some cases, teachers and other caregivers have had to take up responsibilities which parents should carry out.
This is common in the case of absentee parents. Whether by reason of nature of work or out of sheer neglect, a number of caregivers fail to be present in their families. As such children grow up without knowing them, lack emotional attachment to them and view them as visitors in the home. Similarly, children miss out on social attributes they need to acquire from them. The case is made worse when both parents literally leave the care of children to the house-help.
Dysfunctional families • Parents and caregivers who are always fighting, quarrelling, drunk and simply not present for the child impact on the child’s growth negatively. Violence at home is not conducive to a child’s proper upbringing. Indeed, it is from violent environments that children learn that violence is both justified and acceptable.
Single parenthood • is another issue that affects children when not handled properly. The natural way a child grows is with the presence of both parents. The absence of one parent should be explained to the child. Most children will always want to know where the other parent is, a fact that has to be made clear to the child at the earliest opportunity.
Child-headed households • are on the increase and deserve special attention. Children who take care of their younger siblings need to be enabled to know how to deal with the parenting that they are ill-prepared for. By the time they take on parenting responsibilities, they hardly have the necessary skills and knowledge required for this adult role.
Children raised under institutional care • need attention since not all caregivers in the institutions may be prepared for the roles they are assigned. Caregivers working in institutions need to be made to understand that theirs is not a job like any other as it involves nurturing of human beings, and that whatever they do affects the children. It is against this background that one finds it necessary to gain insight into parenting skills to help in promoting proper raising of children.
Type of families
- The nuclear family made up of
- father and mother
- The polygamous family
- The extended family
- The single parent family
- The child-headed family
- In institutions
- By underage parents/child parents
Good parenting skills
- Focus more on your children’s positive behavior than negative behavior.
The more parents scold or reprimand, the more the bad behavior gets repeated. When they receive a lot of scolding, children start to internalize the belief that “I’m a bad child who misbehaves and gets scolded”. As such, they don’t feel motivated to correct their behavior, because it has already become a part of their identity.
- Teach your children to focus on the needs of others.
In fact, children find greater happiness when they give to others sacrificially. These are interesting findings, because most of us are naturally self-centered. We look out for our own needs before the needs of others. If you want your children to lead joyful, fulfilling lives, teach them to serve others and contribute. Involve them in activities where they get to help others and make a positive impact.
When your children think more in terms of contribution and less in terms of achievement, they’ll be on the path of building a meaningful life.
- Don’t shout at your children.
The more you shout at your children, the more their behavior will worsen. Instead of trying to control your children’s behavior, understand their perspective and feelings. Then use logical reasoning to get through to them.
- Give your children responsibilities around the house.
Household responsibilities teach children important life lessons related to duty, cooperation, community and hard work. People who learn such lessons early in life are more likely to become well-adjusted adults. Successful parents make household chores a part of the family’s routine and culture. This sets children up for future success.
- Build a strong relationship with your spouse.
Children from low-conflict families are happier and more successful in the long run, as compared to children from high-conflict families. Parents who have a healthy marriage are more likely to raise children who are well-adjusted. One of the most important things you can do to benefit your children is to build a strong relationship with your spouse.
- Focus on solving problems instead of assigning blame
- Remember that the relationship is more important than being right
- Whenever possible, sit side-by-side when you’re at a restaurant or café
- Make time to talk every day
- Ask “What can I give to the relationship?” more often than you ask “What can I get from the relationship?”
- Discuss your future plans together
- Don’t pick on your spouse’s flaws
- Compliment your spouse in front of other people
- Occasionally ask your spouse, “What can I do to be a better husband/wife?”
- Don’t compare your marriage with other people’s marriages
- Be kind and polite to your spouse
- Teach your children to view challenges positively.
She has found that people who view challenges and obstacles positively are far more likely to become successful than those who don’t. Successful people look at challenges and think: “It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be fun. I’m going to learn a lot through the process of overcoming these challenges. “On the other hand, people who aren’t so successful look at challenges and think: “It’s going to be hard, so I’d rather do something easier. I’ll try to avoid these challenges, but if I really can’t I’ll find a shortcut instead.”
- Don’t do things for your children that your children should do themselves.
Parents want their children to be responsible and independent. But, at the same time, they feel the urge to supervise their children closely and do things for their children that their children ought to do themselves.
- Don’t do things for your children that are their own responsibility
- Let your children make age-appropriate choices
- Let your children deal with the natural consequences of their choices
- As far as possible, refrain from saying “You’re too young to…”
- Don’t allow your children to become the center of your universe
- Let your children fail
- Ask your children, “How do you think you might be able to solve the problem?”
- Help your children develop social skills.
Here’s a list of social skills that you can help your children develop:
- Giving feedback
- Accepting differences
- Respecting others’ rights and property
- Identifying others’ feelings
- Seeing things from others’ perspective
- Making eye contact
- Managing negative emotions
- Not interrupting
- Resolving conflicts
- Disagreeing respectfully
- Helping others
- Complimenting others
- Being polite
- Guide your children without controlling or micromanaging them.
There are three types of parenting styles in general:
Permissive: The parent is too lenient and gives in to the child’s unreasonable demands too often. The parent doesn’t set consistent boundaries or rules. Children with permissive parents often become “spoiled”.
Authoritarian: The parent is too strict, and is frequently harsh and uncompromising. The parent often coerces or forces the child into doing things. Children with authoritarian parents often become resentful and rebellious in the long run.
Authoritative: The parent is “just right”, showing warmth and affection toward the child without being indulgent. The parent sets boundaries for the child, but is willing to compromise or negotiate if the situation calls for it. All else being equal, children with authoritative parents are the most likely to lead happy, successful lives.
Children who are raised by controlling parents are less independent and are less likely to develop problem solving skills. So make an effort to guide and coach your children, without being controlling.
- Give your children a sense of security.
Children who have a strong sense of security early on in life go on to perform better in school. These children also go on to have healthier relationships in adulthood.
To give your children a sense of security, do the following:
- Show affection toward them
- Appreciate them
- Treat them with respect
- Acknowledge their feelings
- Set consistent boundaries
- Give them your full attention when you’re with them
- Be approachable
- Remind them that you love them unconditionally
- Keep your promises
- Be dependable and trustworthy
- Help your children to develop resilience and perseverance.
Defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” – is one of the most important traits that leads to success. When it comes to long-term success, the research indicates that grit is more important than factors like IQ and talent.
How can you help your children to develop grit?
Here are some suggestions:
- Emphasize progress over perfection
- Encourage them to take on manageable challenges
- Emphasize effort over outcome
- Model for them what it means to be gritty
- Show them that you’re continually taking risks and getting outside your comfort zone
- Talk about the challenges you face and what you’re doing to overcome them
- Focus more on contribution and less on achievement
- Let them make mistakes
- Manage your own stress effectively.
Parents’ stress can affect their children’s genes for many years into the future. This highlights how vital it is for parents to manage their own stress effectively. Stress affects you, but it also affects your children! I’ve heard it said that stress is a fact of life, but that it should never become a way of life.
MAKE SURE THAT EVERY THING YOU DO IS DONE OUT OF “CARING & CONCERN”