As parents we want what is best for our children, and for many of us, that means having them grow up without the pains and trials we may have experienced growing up.
But how do we protect our children from a world that can sometimes seem to be so cruel and heartless?
Author L.R. Knost said it well in her book Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through Ages and Stages; “It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”
So how do we raise children who will make this wonderful impact on the world? The answer lies in what we do in our own homes each and every day.
The biggest influence on our child’s thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, and worldview is what they experience in the everyday interactions at home. While the greater community, and larger society, certainly has an impact on them, what matters the most is their home environment, and most importantly, the relationship with their parents.
Our parents are the role models for everything, starting from the moment we enter the world. Their interactions with us determine how much we trust others, how we view our needs and the needs of others, how we expect to be treated and how we interact with those around us, and how we view the world around us. It is through the relationship with our parents that we learn how to form relationships with those around us. We take information and lessons from the parent-child relationship and use that as a role model for the relationships with our siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, classmates, future partners, and our own future children.
Now that doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect as parents, because there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We ALL mess up. We try hard to do things “right,” but we get stressed, we lose our patience, we say things we later regret, and we try every day to do better for our kids. While we aren’t perfect, and never will be, what is important is that we are aware of how we are interacting with our kids. We need to know how impactful our interactions are on them, their developing minds, their emotional development, and their social development. We need to remember that we are their #1 role model. Children listen, not to the words that we speak, but to the actions that we take. Our actions will always speak louder than our words.
So how do we raise children that will make the world a little less cruel and heartless?
- We raise our children with empathy and understanding.
- We listen to the research that says positive discipline techniques teach our children better than punishment and shame.
- We speak and act lovingly to them.
- We recognize and validate their needs, both physical and emotional.
- We show them the same respect and dignity that we wish them to demonstrate toward us.
- We strive to understand where they are at developmentally so that we have realistic expectations.
- We teach them how to cope with life’s challenges in healthy ways.
- And we love them unconditionally, so that they can go forth into the world and do all of those things with others that they meet.
Peace on Earth begins with us. It begins in our homes, with our children, and in all of the little interactions we have with them every day.