Saturday, April 07, 2007

parenting book meme

I've been inspired by all the kids having temper tantrums in the supermarket to create my own meme (now that I know what it means!). I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is not a lot of positive support for parents, especially moms, in Japan. It makes me want to write a book, not because I'm an expert on parenting, but because I want something good and positive to be available.

So here goes...

If you were going to write a book on parenting, what five (or more) things would you make sure to include:

1. It is good for you and your spouse to be on the same page in regards to daily and future goals for your kids. This means lots of conversations. Both of you were raised differently and it's going to affect how you approach parenting your own kids. Instead of waiting for a conflict to arise that will force a conversation, talk about it now. Your children will find it easier to obey you if you present a united front. My friend's SIL's daughter (2nd grade) started lying about anything and everything and as this mom tried to get her to stop the dad suddenly started saying that he believed the girl, even though he knew she was lying, and it's been really difficult for the family. Whatever the reason for the dad saying he believes her, this family would be having an easier time if these parents were on the same page, whatever that page is.

2. You can never show your children enough love. Love means a lot of things to different people and it's important to find out what the one thing you can do that will mean the most to your child but it can also mean discipline (whichever method you use) to ensure that your child grows up to know the difference between right and wrong so they can be a functioning member of society. Love also means encouraging your child to be himself and accept his strengths and weaknesses. Love also means lots of hugs, smiles and fun. My parents modelled this for us growing up and I know that I really appreciate it now that I am faced with the daunting task of doing the same for my four girls.

3. Balance. I'm talking about balance in sleep, food, activities, time with mom and dad, pressure, fun, discipline, expectations and any other aspect of childhood. I come back to this word so many times as my husband and I try to strike the perfect balance with all the influences on our children. The balance for your family will probably be different from other families and that's fine. Don't try to keep up with the Jones'!

4. Have rules, make sure your children know them, and consistently help your children keep them. I know that as a product of Generation X we are not into rules but our children really need them. They need to know what is expected of them or the unknown will create an uncomfortable feeling of dread, for example, knowing that they may unexpectedly find themselves in trouble at any moment. Also, having to have kept and understood rules in the safety of a family environment will help them succeed when they go to school, start to drive and become a parent themselves.

5. Create family traditions. Again, this is kind of a knowing-what's-coming thing for your kids but it also gives them a sense of identity as part of your family. It can be as simple as singing a certain song before you eat dinner or as elaborate as themed vacations and holidays. These are the memories that your kids will hold with them throughout the years and give a foundation on which to build their lives.

I know there are many aspects to parenting and no parenting book can cover everything you need to know but if I was writing a book to encourage parents and give them practical tools this is where I would start.

I'm supposed to be writing a post about Emi's nyugakushiki and I'll get to that. I will say that it went really well and I am encouraged about what kind of experience Emi is going to have next year.

Those of you in the blogging community are very busy now with impending births, new pregnancies and preparing for another school year so I won't tag anyone but if you would like to add your thoughts or if you want to do the whole meme, please do so.


Hannah said...

Since I learned so much of what I know about parenting from you, the only thing I would have to add to that list is the importance of keeping your marriage, not your children, the center of your family. I guess it all comes back to balance, and I know when that aspect is out of balance, it seems to throw everything else off as well. And lumping my husband in with my kids doesn't mean I'm making him a priority, it means I'm treating him like a child, which he hates. Besides, if your marriage is strong it gives your children confidence, more confidence than if you spend every waking moment focused on them. Anyway, there's my two cents.

Mom said...

My two cents are:
$.01: Take vacations, even if it is sleeping on the floor of friends basements. If I had it to do over again, I would go camping in the very same place every year, even for 2 days, to build one memory upon another. We went someplace different every year, and the memories are not as deep.
$.02: Make sure each kid develops a skill or interest that they are good at and that they make their own. You can't be the best at everything, the best looking, the most popular, but if you can ________ (play trumpet, take pictures, do Irish dancing, play tennis, speak another language, etc.)better than anyone in your class nobody can take that away from you.