13 Lessons I Learnt As A Parent

January 4, 2010

Children come bearing many gifts.

If there was one big lesson I learnt as a new mother it was that there was nothing more humbling than being a parent.

Suddenly you become a cook, cleaner, driver and entertainer on demand. No longer do you have people running around for you, you are now expected to run around serving the needs of a tiny human.

Over time, I learnt several more lessons from my children, often the hard way.

Here are 13 major ones:

•    Giving children your full attention goes a long way. Want to have a little peace and quiet to read your book? Spend 15 minutes of quality time with your child, playing, reading or chatting. During that time do not allow for any disturbances whatsoever.

•    Following on from no. 1, always look your children squarely in the eyes when you speak to them. This is part of giving them your full attention, a simple act that quickly fills up a child’s emotional tank.

•    Model the behaviour that you would like your children to have. Children are great imitators and will copy the people they love and admire.

•    In order to convince your children that you love them, you must walk the talk. Just saying it, is not enough.

•    Time and attention speak louder than material goods when it comes to conveying love. Children are truly discerning customers—when given a choice, they almost always prefer spending time with those they love.

•    Always keep your word. If you promise your children ice cream at McDonald’s then be sure to deliver. I have a 40-year old friend who still remembers that her father failed to fulfill his promise of taking her to the movies when she was 10.

•    Never lie to your children. If mum and dad have a fight, explain that to them. It’s pointless hiding away in a room when they can hear the yelling through the door. Children sense dissonances and inconsistencies in the household better than they let on.

•    Grandparents are not always right and your children can tell when there is incongruence between what their grandparents say and what they do. Do not be swayed by blind adherence to the ‘respect your elders’ rule that we all grew up with. Have the courage to stand up for the truth, and your children.

•    Children are incredibly self-organising. When they have sorted themselves out with respect to an activity or group play, do not try to re-organise them. You are unlikely to add any value and will probably serve only to break up the fun.

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•    Listen to your children and trust their feelings. This will teach them not only to trust their own feelings but also give you clues about what’s best for them.

•    No one is going to love your children as much as you. Therefore, no one is going to look after them as well as you.

•    It is better to serve many small meals on demand than fight over eating up all the veggies and meat and rice in three big meals a day.

•    RELAX! Parenting is a journey that we are on together. Our children are as much a part of the adventure as we are. It’s not all about us—they have feelings and needs, too.

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One Response to 13 Lessons I Learnt As A Parent

  1. Daphne on January 6, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I agree with all your points.

    May I add …

    Trust them enough to let them see your frailties and faults. Confide in them – tell them about your fears, worries and doubts. Discuss things with them. All this will make them feel valued, and encourage them to confide in you too.

    Parents don’t have to be perfect know-it-alls. I believe it’s healthy to let your children know that there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’re wrong or that you don’t always know the answer.


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