November 7. 2013, Epoch Times
Sometimes it is the deeply-ingrained notions we’ve developed over time that stand in our way more than anything else. Parents all want the very best for their children. Re-framing an old assumption can often do wonders toward improvement. Do any of these assumptions sound familiar to you?
1. It is primarily the school’s job to educate my child.
Much has been said about the antiquated model of education that was created to fit the needs of the industrial age yet prevails today. Schools and teachers, both private and public, are trying. Some students can find some value there.
What many parents seem to miss, however, is the immense opportunity they have to impact the education of their child, beginning at a very young age.
The simple act of setting up a home library and reading to children regularly can do more for a young child than their entire elementary career. Those parents who seek out lessons for their children in all facets of life and allow their children to explore their interests deeply—the gift they are giving is truly a great one.
What if we shifted our thinking, seeing “school” as a supplement to the real education that happens at home. How would parents then define their roles and what kinds of adults would their children grow to be?
2. Music, movies, television shows, and toys targeted to my child’s age are good for them to listen to, watch, or play with.
“Kids are growing up so fast nowadays.” You hear this all the time. Innocence and childhood are not being protected as they should. The standards being applied to modern children’s entertainment are continually degenerating. Young children are being exposed to violence, rude language, sexuality, and all manner of low character standards—subtly or otherwise.
Do we think that which they are exposed to affects their character? What does allowing this stuff into our homes say to our children? It takes more prudence now more than ever to sift through and find that which is beneficial or, at least, appropriate for our children.
3. It is essential for kids to participate in team sports.
There is a frenzy today of participation by very young kids in, often, multiple team sports activities. Team sports can be great and the lessons that can be gleaned may also be positive, if the sport is managed with excellence.
However, team sports are not for every kid and the benefits should be weighed against the oftentimes enormous time commitment required. There is an opportunity cost there. By spending all of that time on team sports, what other interests and pursuits are kids missing out on? What are the real motivations of parents who are so driven to sign their kids up for sports?
4. I can’t get my kids to stop eating sweets.
Really? Who’s in charge, here?
Feeding little people can, for sure, present challenges to any parent. The prevalence of things like fruit snacks, juice boxes, and Goldfish in the diet of the under-10 set leads to some questions, however. For example, who is buying all of this stuff at the grocery store?
Involving children in food preparation and introducing delicious whole food alternatives while weeding out this stuff from the pantry is a good first step to healthier habits.
5. We do not earn enough money to allow one of us to stay home with our children.
No doubt, this is true for some people. However, this is likely not true for as many who think that it is.
How many people wish they could stay home with their children, but don’t realize that an honest assessment of spending habits, a budget, a slightly smaller home, and a slightly older car could get them there. Other paths, like a work at home arrangement, could get them there, too. The status quo can be stifling.
6. All toys are made in China.
Maybe it seems this way if you are doing all of your toy shopping at Walmart and Target. However, if you want to have some fun, hit up Google for toys not made in China. The more you search, the more high-quality, interesting, gorgeous options you’ll find. And you won’t have the pesky problem of inadvertently supporting a totalitarian regime who persecutes and murders its citizens.
7. Children do not really need rules, structure, and schedules.
Untrue. While giving in to every whim of these adorable little people you love may feel like a loving thing to do, children thrive on limits, routines, and boundaries. Schedule bedtime and play out the same routine each night. Have them do their homework as soon as they get home from school. Be consistent with discipline. Predictability can be a great comfort to children.
8. Boredom is not good for my kids.
Kids today are so very over scheduled. School, sports, dance, scouts, clubs, gymnastics, camp, choir, band, and on and on…. All of these in moderation can provide wonderful benefits to kids. However, so too can downtime and, dare we say, boredom! It is in moments of boredom that some of the most creative ideas can be born. What if we saw boredom as an opportunity to create, to discover who we are, and to have fun?
9. My child is too young to learn to read or understand fractions or make their own sandwich or…
Each child is different. Notions around the right age to start reading, for example, may rob a child of his or her motivation to learn. Many kids can read well in advance of Kindergarten. Many preschoolers can make their own peanut butter sandwich. Many Kindergartners can have fun with fractions. Kick the conventional wisdom to the curb and let the child give it a try. No pressure of course, but why hold them from discovering their natural strengths?
10. When it comes to parenting, I don’t know what I am doing.
Let’s embrace the amazing innate wisdom that we, as parents, really do have in understanding who are kids are and what they need. Those parental instincts are strong. Embrace them and remember that, despite the volumes of parenting advice you’ll likely consume in your life, you know better than anyone else what is best for your child.