My line of work brings me into contact with a wide variety of parents and professionals alike. The idea being that I work to promote positive behaviour management. This involves understanding that all form of behaviour is a communication and not necessarily a naughtiness worthy of punishment. It is up to the adult in charge to translate the behaviour into ‘adult speak’ and provide the child what they need in an appropriate way. For example, a three year old tantrums because they aren’t given the flavour ice cream they requested. Rather than seeing this as the child being naughty, in understanding that this behaviour simply reflects a developmental moment typical of a 3 year old learning what they can and can’t control. By ignoring the tantrum, being consistent in the original flavour decision, and ensuring the child has control over other more appropriate decisions, the behaviour will reduce and the child will successfully move through the stage of development they are in.
As a parent, this knowledge makes me reflect that the role of parenting is one of the most hardest jobs anyone ever could do. That is, if you are doing it correctly. For you to be working hard, you will be responsive to your child’s needs and communications at all times. You will no longer have a life that is your own. You will not be able to go out in an evening and then be able to be a truly responsive parent the next day. You will not be able to have plans that will necessarily be completed in the timeframe you had hoped for……because ultimately you are there to respond to, model for, negotiate with, explain, teach, guide, lead, direct, and respond to your child’s needs in a way that allows them to develop appropriately. And this is damn hard work.
So it makes me so frustrated when I come into contact with parents who just do not realise the responsibility that lies before them in raising their children. They do not respond to their children in a way that encourages positive development. They do not reflect on their responses and how things could have gone better/differently. They do not make decisions about their lifestyle that is reflective of the fact that they are responsible for the care and protection of dependants. It is almost as if the child is a by-product of their lives and that they simply better hang on for the parents’ ride…..raising themselves as they go. To me, this form of parenting is the easy option. It isn’t hard to parent when you don’t have to modify your lifestyle too much to respond to the needs of your children. It isn’t hard to parent when you don’t have to think about what your child really is needing when they are behaving in a certain way, or in many cases misbehaving. By giving in, ignoring or using a technology-babysitter parents can get on with their own lives and have a relatively easy run of this parenting ‘lark’.
More parents need to truly understand that having children is not a right, but a privilege. To be a responsible parent, you must truly be working incredibly hard. You must understand just what a responsibility you have before you in growing a little adult that will one day be able to manage themselves appropriately in the world, and treat others with kindness and compassion. The hours that you as the parent would put into this position of responsibility are more than any one would expect to do in paid employment. You are on-call 24/7. Sick days are rare (if ever). There is no user-manual and your duties range from menial tasks such as cleaning, toileting and dressing, through to spiritual education, social interaction education and conflict resolution. Just when you think your skills have developed to a competent level, you will be thrown a curve ball to which you are ill-equipped to deal with.
But, if working hard, the rewards are priceless. Those special moments of delight and wonderment. The satisfaction in seeing your children representing the values and behaviours modelled and upheld in your home environment. The joy in watching your children grow into confident, self-assured and secure young adults. And if you have worked extremely hard, the reward in one day seeing your children model the very same parenting behaviours you have done with your grandchildren.
Parenting should not be a walk in the park. If it is…..you’re not fit for the job.