Just the other day I was looking through the library for a book. I looked under self-help, inspirational even humor. No matter where I searched, I couldn’t find The Book on raising children. There are books on almost every other subject, but when it comes to a how-to book on raising children, it doesn’t exist.
Whether we think our parents are the greatest or we think we are left on our own, parents raise us one day at a time. No matter what our age from 5 to 105, we can’t even begin to understand what it took our parents to bring us into this world. Even if we become parents, our children will be different. We can’t rely on how our parents did it, because so many things change.
Discipline is harder today than it has ever been. Years ago, you could spank a child if they acted out of line. Today, if you lay a hand on them it’s considered abuse. Parents are trying anything they can to discipline, but sometimes they fall short. How many talk shows do you see where parents are complaining about their kids or the kids are complaining about their parents? Most of the time their talking, but no one’s listening.
Did you know that more than 50% of the children today are being raised in single or remarried households? Coming from one of those households, it isn’t all bad. But look at how many in that group are teenagers having babies. Most of the teenagers drop out of school and have an uphill battle raising a child.
Sure many people may scream abstinence, but let’s face reality. Children hear about sex at a young age, whether from school or the kid next door. They can’t fully understand the consequences of sex. Admit it, don’t you like to try something new every once in a while? Well, then we should expect no less from our children. We need to give them the right facts before someone else tells them just what they want to hear. We need to impress on them the consequences and offer any protection we can give.
Teenagers say that they feel their parents don’t understand them. I felt the same way when I was a teenager. Fact is, the teenage years are the most confusing because so much is happening physically, emotionally and socially.
Instead of acting on what you think today’s children need, ask them. Number one on their list is to be loved. Doesn’t it give you a warm feeling inside when your parent(s) said they loved you? When was the last time you said “I love you” back? Can you remember the last time you got or gave a hug?
Having a disability, you might be thinking, I got love and attention anyway. You’d be wrong. Sure I got attention for my needs, but it was mutual love, attention and respect that I got above and beyond the necessity.
The most any parent can do is lay the ground rules, hold to those rules and love unconditionally. Use different ways to say “I love you”. Put appreciation notes in lunch bags, on the mirror in the bathroom, on a pillow, on the desk or on the handle of the refrigerator.
Ask for or offer hugs daily. There is nothing that can compare to the soothing, comforting warmth of a hug. You can’t help feeling loved from a hug. Don’t limit yourself to just family members either. Everyone needs hugs, but please ask first so as not to catch someone off guard.
It’s time to put the “family” back into society. It doesn’t matter if parents live in different places or if you only have one parent or a foster parent. What matters is that together parents and children communicate what’s on their minds. We need to make time for one another. You can buy a car and a house, but you can’t buy the love of a child.