Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Parenting

I have been wanting to blog about my ideas about good parenting techniques, but have never gotten around to it. Now that both my brother and sister are going to have children (with separate partners mind you) I feel compelled to finally get around to it.
I have always been hesitant about giving out parenting advice. It seems that whenever someone is going to have their first child every parent feels compelled to tell them what they think about parenting. I figure that they will find out when the baby comes what a big change it is, and as that child grows they should be able to figure most of it out. Certainly what information I may offer now will not be remembered by the time it may actually be useful, assuming it actually is useful.
So the main purpose of this blog is to just flesh out for the record my thoughts and opinions on parenting, for whatever they are worth.
My first piece of advice to any prospective parent is to take a look at what their parents did. Think about the things that they did right and the things they did wrong. It is natural for a new parent to do exactly what their parents did, even if they don't realize they are doing it. It is important to only repeat the good things they did and learn from their mistakes.
Take this new roll of parenting more seriously than anything you have ever done before. As a parent you have the full ability to ruin your child's self image for the rest of their life, or to set them on track to live a happy and successful life. Children put a lot of emotional stake in who their parents are and what their parents think of them. Even as adults many people still put a lot of stake in their image of their parents.
As a parent remember to be interesting and fun. Don't be that parent that takes their child to work, comes home, makes dinner, cleans, watches TV and then goes to bed. I mean, many nights that will be necessary, but you should show to your child that you are an exciting person.
Go out and do things with your child. Go camping or fishing. Visit cool places like national parks or a local place of interest. If you ever learned to play an instrument get some sheet music for kids songs so that you can play them their favorite songs while everyone sings along. Whatever it is you do, make sure it is interesting. Children need to understand life can be fun, and the world we live in is awesome. There is a world out their beyond the social awkwardness that is grade school.
At the playground don't just let your kid loose. Get on your hands and knees and play with your children. Climb up the slide with them, go down the fire pole. Ran around and scream while you chase them. It is good exercise, it develops a strong bond with your child, and it reminds you that you are still young (assuming you aren't becoming a parent in your 40s.)
Being a parent is tough work filled with lots of stress. Take every opportunity to have fun while you can. It is a lot harder than it may sound, but it is also very rewarding.