Today the role of a parent has truly a broad definition. It does not only refer to biological parents but also stepparents, legal guardians and even grandparents. Regardless of who you are, if you are raising a child, your role is to raise that child to be the best man or woman they can be. This indeed is a very responsible task and one that requires patience, love and understanding. Like everything else, it comes with its ups and downs.
Children are most of the time very demanding of the time of their parents. In a world which is fast and with time becoming a luxury, it is important to remember that when raising children they become a priority and parenting, therefore, cannot happen by chance. Being a parent means that:
- You take care of your children, physically, mentally and emotionally.
- You provide for them and make sure that they have food on the table, clothes to wear and all the necessities they require.
- You protect them and keep them safe.
- You love them. Although this may sound obvious, it is important that the child knows they are loved beyond measure.
- You are their reference point. They will have their friends but nevertheless, you will remain a fixed point in your child’s life. You are your child’s confidante and friend and from this place, you can give your child good advice and offer support.
- You are their teacher. Children will learn from you what is right and wrong, and they will look up to you and live by your example. Therefore, what you do in front of your children but also when they are not there will shape them into the adults they become tomorrow.
- You are their role model. Your child watches you even when you think they are not. They will imitate your behaviours, therefore, make sure that what they see is positive and a learning platform for them.
Children do not come with a manual. As a parent, you therefore have the challenging but most rewarding task of getting to know them. This requires you to truly be present in their lives, to be observant of what they are doing and what they are saying, to listen to them and to share with them your lives so as they find it okay to share theirs with you. The older they grow they will have more questions to ask about life, about themselves and about people and things around them. Listen to these questions and do not be afraid to say that you do not have the answer. You can always try to discover it together.
A parent who plays with their children learns so much about their child’s temperament, strengths and weaknesses. Allow your children to be themselves and create a safe place at home where they can always come to after a gruelling day at school or at work. Most important of all, allow your children to express their feelings, whatever these may be. A child who is emotionally intelligent and aware of himself can live better with others.
Parenting has never been and will never be an easy ride. On the contrary, the ride is hardly ever smooth – it is bumpy and curvy and sometimes you get lost and feel like there are no other roads which lead to the right way. Do not lose heart and do not be discouraged. When in doubt, take a breath and remember that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. There are only many imperfect parents giving it their very best. And that, truly, is enough.