Being a parent is undoubtedly one of the nicest and hardest things. Part of what makes it so difficult is constant worrying whether you’re doing the right thing. My mom told me a funny story about when I was little. There was a period when I absolutely refused to eat and she was having a really hard time figuring out what to do with me.
One day when she was trying to push a spoonful of food into my mouth, and I kept shaking my head wildly, she cried out in desperation: “Ana, you will die if you don’t eat!” In that moment I froze, then started bawling my eyes out. She said she couldn’t calm me for a whole hour, and she started thinking: “What have I done?” She was worried she did some irreparable damage, where I’d start stuffing myself with food in order not to die. Luckily, that didn’t happen, but this just illustrates the dilemmas parents have when upbringing their kids. What can they say, and what shouldn’t they say? How to stop children from misbehaving, how to encourage them to reach their intellectual and artistic potential?
- They don’t allow their children to spin around, jump up and down, walk in the puddle (splashing around), balance on the edge of a sidewalk... It’s natural that parents are concerned their children might fall down and really hurt themselves, but scientists proved that by doing these silly activities children develop all sorts of basic skills and develop their intellectual potential by building synapses between neurons (the more synapses, the higher intellectual capacity).
- They let their children play video games for too long, usually in a position that’s not physiological - that is, lying on a couch with their hands up, holding an iPod or some other gaming device. This is not good for the child’s eyes, hands, nor spine. Children should spend most of their awake time running or walking around, doing stuff with their hands (drawing, building lego blocks, making clay figures, etc.), asking questions, developing their motor, verbal and other skills.
- They invent obvious lies, trying to prevent children from doing something that’s reserved for grownups. For example, they say: “Don’t drink that, your nose will fall off!” Or: “Drugs are bad, they make you look like this” and then show their kids some horror movie photos. Sooner or later the children will see through the banal lies, and the parents might lose some of their authority. It’s the best to stick to the truth as much as possible, modifying it slightly or phrasing it in such a way that’s appropriate for the child’s age.
There’s also the problem of over-thinking your child’s upbringing. You can’t read everything that every “expert” has written on the subject of parenthood. Even if you did, you’d be way more confused than you were in the beginning. You can’t know everything. It’s natural to make mistakes in this thing, as in everything else in life.
The trick is to be a patient and caring parent who’s willing to learn and grow with the child. If you’re that parent, you’ve got pretty good chances of doing a great job with your kids.
Ana Brady is a fun-loving mom who spends every free minute with her family (outside, if possible). When she’s not playing, she’s working on a project on beverage labels.