By: Patience Carew

Parenting generally involves raising a child albeit biological, unnatural or adopted. In most advanced nations, government, societies and social health services also play the role of parenting.

Circumstantially, asides the biological parents of a child, others in the model of an aunt, uncle, older sibling, god-parents, grand-parents, family members and friends may partake in the role of parenting a child. Whoever or whatever system or structure raises the child influences their development in life generally, as a child treats others the way their parents treat them.

You can then agree that there is no greater influence on a child’s development than their parents’. Being a parent and mother of young children, I personally consider parenting to be the most complicated job in this world. There are no instruction manuals; it transcends conception and birth and frankly, it can be overwhelming. I am even finding it difficult to adopt a few of my own childhood strategies as the values, society norms and expectations of the modern parents have evolved. Balancing parenting and careers is one of the most daunting tasks for the modern parent. Making the adjustments to keep pace with the ever shifting roles of parenting, I find as a working mum that I have to take control of everything happening around the home while still doing a full time job. I realise that I am a primary decision maker regarding the children and household chores, which alone takes its toll on being an effective parent. Some believe it’s pretty easy to be an effective parent and focus only on providing financial and educational resources to raise the children. For many, it is an ongoing process with lifelong responsibilities; plus endless trial and error along the journey. Amazingly, the journey never ends because as parents, our roles evolve as the children grow into various stages of their growth life.

Paramount to the role of a parent/caretaker in a child’s life are three key things: Nurture, Protect and Guide. These are not to rule out physical and intellectual development of the child. Being an actively involved parent is painstakingly demanding as it requires plenty of time, hard work and re-prioritising; it frequently demands sacrificing your personal desires for the needs and wants of the child. A lot of research has been carried out on effective parenting; however, Steinberg L. (2004) stands out. He recognizes 10 basic principles on parenting as well as emphasises that “the more you practice good parenting when you do have the time to think before you act, the more natural good parenting will become during those moments when you are responding instinctively”.

Some of the principles I particularly find essential and use as my rule/guide are as follows:

- What you do matters; children learn by watching. They are especially susceptible to the emotions that their parents transmit.

- You cannot be too loving; praise and acknowledge every accomplishment, expressing physical affections and responding to their emotions

- Adapt your parenting to fit each child. Every child is unique.

- Establish rules and set limits to help build their independence.

- Be consistent.

- Avoid harsh discipline

- Explain your rules and decisions

- Treat your child with RESPECT

In general, we are exposed to a lot of information which are quite helpful from experts, friends and families on the “know how” on parenting; however, spending as much time as you can muster with your children goes a long way in moulding, monitoring their activities and listening to them. Also, remember that the foundation for being a good parent in a family is to have an open and clear line of communication and respect between both parents. For single parents, maintaining a network of close dependable friends and family could support and minimise the pressure of day-to-day responsibilities. There must also be a willingness to be a more effective parent.

We never know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves”. Henry Ward Beecher.

Be, naturally, a good parent.

Love more, daily!

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