In this new world everything that people do is measured or weighted, configured and planned and held up to some standard in order to be considered meaningful. The internet has made access to millions of tidbits of information so easy and with the simple click of a mouse one can find the means to make a decision, choice or find an appropriate definition or description that will provide detail about the most intimate details of every thing known to man today. If you search the word parent’ online you will be instantaneously pointed to millions of links that will try to help you figure out exactly what a parent should do, be, and look like and feel in every instance and situation in life. Still, so many are left wondering what in the world is effective parenting?
It is important to realize at some point in our hectic lives that not everything has to be done in an attempt to constantly be efficient or effective. We spend a lot of time figuring out how to kill two birds with one stone and multi-tasking is no longer a skill; rather a necessity. We even try to teach it to our children. They can watch TV and do homework; play several sports at one time and are even expected to intertwine learning in something as playful as splashing in a pool outside. It seems that many people feel if we aren’t doing something effective, efficient or that perpetuates forward motion of some sort we are wasting time and lollygagging around.
When it comes to things like parenting, marriage or family it seems that it may be time to adjust our beliefs a bit and begin to feel that being effective in one form or another is not as important as just being. For most people this type of thought adjustment and gratitude only comes after a near loss of life or suffered tragedy that clearly unveils the forest from the trees.
Obviously, when it comes to responsibility there is nothing more important than parenting. Poor parenting can result in poor adults who become a drain on themselves, others and society as a whole. Poor parenting can come from not knowing better or knowing different and poor parenting can cause tons of problems in our school systems and jails. But it also seems relevant to add that poor parenting can result from mothers and fathers who are trying to be so effective that they wind up being pushy and over zealous creating chaos in the minds of their children and taking away any chance at child hood that their children had to begin with.
Case and point! So many brand new yuppie parents are purchasing Baby Mozart and educational teething toys or stuffed animals that sing and dance for their newborns long before their infant can even hold their tiny eyes open for more than 15 minutes at a time. They begin overloading their rooms with baseball bats, footballs, computer programs intended to ‘make them smarter’ and ‘stimulate cognitive thoughts’ in the efforts to be effective. The children learn to crawl and walk amidst a slue of other toddlers who are being raised by minimum wage daycare workers so that their parents can afford them a huge house, fancy SUV and backyard swimming pool that no one is ever home to use. People are taking 18 month olds to’ Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center for a ‘family’ vacation when most toddlers are tickled at the thought of a McDonalds Playland. All of this and more in the wave of trying to implement effective parenting. Children are schooled younger and younger yet still are learning their ABC’s with the rest of the kids when they enter kindergarten. Perhaps the learning or thought of learning makes the parents feel warm and fuzzy inside but the truth is that a Kindergartner is just that no matter how many years of preschool they had before.
There are more children under the age of 10 playing travel soccer, softball, baseball and football whose parents are entering exhibition games to get their child recognized some 12 years before college. When we were kids it was high school before we really knew what we were good at. Effective parenting has become pushing kids to their limits because we realize that they ‘can’ do and learn certain things at a faster rate. It would be like driving our vehicles 120 miles per hour just because the speedometer says we can go that fast. The problem is that this pressure to be the best and perform in every arena of life can also lead to poor and ineffective parenting that leaves many children more trusting of strangers than they are their own family. It also leaves many children with no real idea of what it means to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon fishing for catfish or how it feels to lie in bed watching Scooby Doo on Sunday morning with their siblings and folks.
So what is Effective Parenting? Effective parenting is listening to your children and hearing not just what they say; but what they feel as well. Effective parenting is realizing that your kids will sleep when they are tired regardless of what some book says is their required amount of sleep. It is letting them know there is always a soft and safe place they can go when they are afraid by letting them share your bed every once in while. It is helping them with their homework and giving them an answer or two so they will have more time to play in the mud. It is letting them splash in the kiddie pool in your yard buck naked, without sunscreen and not getting mad when they squirt you with the hose. Effective parenting is eating a meal together that was cooked at home and spending holidays enjoying the company of each other. Effective parenting is letting’ sibling rivalry work itself out at times, saying No when necessary and realizing that one cookie before bedtime will not keep them up at night. Effective parenting is standing on the sidelines and being proud of what they do and letting them decide how often, how much and which activities are fun for them. It is living your own life without living through your children and it is pushing them only when they won’t push themselves. Effective parenting is about giving children a foundation of home, family and love that will stay with them throughout their life and about taking the time to just be!
What is effective parenting? If you searched the internet you would find thousands of books and periodicals by professionals that would tell you some answer that might work. The truth is that effective parenting is going to bed each night knowing in your heart and soul that your children felt loved, that you did your very best, that you will never be perfect and that you will make mistakes that hopefully the children don’t notice. Effective parenting is something that can’t be read about or learned through a course as it has to be felt in the hearts of parents. It is about raising a child so that one day you will have the courage to let them go knowing that they will make their way through this world with humility, pride, integrity and courage and that above all they will love others and love themselves. Effective parenting is the one thing that makes a child; no matter how old; want to come back home again if just for a night to feel that welcoming and unique feeling that someone can only get from being home!