When you look back to your Childhood, what do you feel? Did you enjoy your early years? What about your Teens? What did you think of yourself back then? Do you still feel the same way? What thoughts, feelings and beliefs have followed you to Adulthood?
As children we are so vulnerable to our emotions and the environment we are brought up in. We are mostly incapable of managing our world and consciously directing ourselves to a happy and positive future. So who can help guide us and ensure that we have the best possible chance in life?
More than anyone it is YOU, the Parent or future Parent, who can have the most influence and impact on your Child's Future Adult life.
If you have Children or are thinking to have Children I believe there are several ways you can support and help bring about the kind of future you would hope your child or children have.
Of course these are my thoughts and beliefs, so it is up to you whether you see any value in adopting them yourself.
Be a Guide and Teacher, but be flexible and open-minded.
By the time most of us have children, one era has passed by and a new era will have begun. Maybe a lot has changed or maybe very little, but it is important to realize that what worked for us during our time as Children or young adults may have changed significantly. Try to avoid projecting outdated thinking onto your Children. Think about the recent changes over the last 50 or so years. What is acceptable now, that wasn’t acceptable years ago? What age are we in now, eg industrial age, information age and how is that relevant to our present thinking and actions?
I believe there are some obvious general values that are important to pass on, such as- don’t hurt or cause suffering to others, but there is also a lot of thinking which is unique to our own experience. Of course we try to teach through experience but I think it is important to guide, not impose. Allow some flexibility of thinking. Provide honest and true awareness and allow your Children to shape that information into their own value and belief system.
Realise that there are different innate strengths and types of intelligences
If your Child appears to be different, excels in certain subjects, seems excessively interested in particular areas and displays talents that seem to have no reason to be there, then maybe that is their uniqueness and individual gifts trying to come out. Try not to crush or redirect these organic abilities, interests and strengths into something you deem to be more worthwhile or important. Instead direct these talents into a path or passion that may enrich your Childs life. We all are unique and the way we learn is also different. Some people are creative, some are musical, some great with numbers, some with English, some with sports. Through numerous and varying experience, help your child find their unique talent and interests and never discourage something they love and are good at, unless it may cause them or others real suffering. Remember, just because a Child isn’t good at Math, doesn’t mean anything in regards to their possible future success. They can of course improve, but instead of focusing on their weakness and deciding that they are slow or stupid, look for what they are good at and what they naturally display an aptitude for. A creative Genius isn’t necessarily athletic or good at math, yet they are still considered a genius. Look to their strengths and highlight them, instead of highlighting their weaknesses and inadequacies.
Look past the Behaviours on the Surface
Depression, anger, rebellious behavior, anxiety, bullying, lack of confidence, low self esteem, drug taking, dressing differently, displaying fear, being introverted or extroverted are all signs and symptoms of possible deeper issues or simply a unique personality. There are of course many more behaviours that a Child or Teen may display that are often seen as very negative and horrible. If you see these behaviours in your Child or Teen, do you simply react or do you try to understand and look deeper as to why these behaviours are being displayed. As human beings we are like onions, you have to peel the layers back sometimes to reveal the truth or to see deeper. So if you are seeing your Child or Teen exhibiting “negative behaviours”, try not to simply react, but instead understand and think past what you have actually witnessed. Eventually you are likely to find a deeper truth and once you do you will be able to help. Until you find the real purpose behind a behavior you will have little chance to make much of a difference.
Develop trust between you and your Children.
This may not seem to be a big thing sometime as it comes naturally for most Children with their Parents. But what about the troubling Teen years in particular, which is usually one of the most difficult times for Parents. During this stage of growth, Teenagers often say something and mean something else. This is where trust can be the key to the vault of honesty and directness. Having a strong bond and trust between yourself and your child will ensure you have a better chance to intervene before a problem occurs or is aggravated. A high level of trust and comfort between and Parent and Child/teen will help you to reach the truth early before is causes problems. If a Child has been bullied, discriminated against, mistreated or similar, they will be more likely to share if they are comfortable engaging with their Parents. Build trust early and always nurture it.
Lead by example
This is obvious. Children are impressionable. If you display a lot of undesirable traits, it’s only natural they will emulate your actions and way of being.
Help them to believe in who they are and what they can become.
Try to support your Children’s personality even if it doesn’t seem to fit into what you think to be perfect or right. Of course guide them and keep them on track as far as avoiding the obvious wrongdoings, but don’t crush their unique and developing personality. We are meant to be original and different, not clones. Evolution requires us to be different. It is ok to help them make the kind of choices that will lay a foundation for them and keep them out of poverty, but be careful not to direct them onto a narrow path where the options you provide are minimal and inflexible.
Look at who they are, what they are passionate about and talented at, then support it. Help them to grow and encourage them to be original and creative.
There will only ever be one of them just as there is only one of you. Their place and purpose on this Earth is unique to them. Allow them to dream and never sell them short. Security in life may feel good but telling them to aim low in order to gain it, will only make them feel inadequate. If you do this you are basically saying that you do not believe in their potential and what they are able to achieve.
There are of course more difficult conditions and behaviours out there, that can be extremely trying for Parents to deal with. These may include, Autism, Deep depression, ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s and other similar behavioural disorders. (I don’t like using the word “disorder” but that’s how they are usually referred to). If you are the Parent of a Child who has one of the above or similar you are probably thinking that relating to, building trust, supporting, understanding and alike, can be a little more difficult for you than it may be for other Parents. You may be right. This is where professional intervention is necessary and can hopefully help in your circumstances. It is important to engage the services of a professional who has experience in the area specific to your needs. I don’t want to generalise and suggest that all these conditions are the same or that they all require professional intervention. The point I want to make is that; parents having a level of understanding, despite the inherent difficulties these kinds of conditions carry, is important and still possible. In fact, many children who present with the above “disorders” can often display high levels of focus and aptitude regarding specific areas of interest. It is a matter of honing this excessive interests and channeling them in their natural direction. Now I would like to point out that I am not a Psychologist, which is the obvious reason I recommend professional intervention if necessary. However, I write to provoke a different way of thinking should it not already be present. If you think there are more possibilities, you may be more inclined to investigate for yourself. If you are interested in looking further, here is a link to get you started.
The time between Birth and Adulthood is one of extreme change, growth and influence. Throughout this period, a Child or Teen is highly vulnerable to the input and programming of their surrounding environment. As a parent you have the Power to set them up for Adulthood with an open-mind, confidence, passion, awareness, values, empathy and their own positive and personal set of beliefs. Do what you can within your power of influence. Your guidance may be the difference between a life full of fulfillment, abundance and happiness or a life full of struggle and suffering.