My views on being a parent
Because I recognize the conviction many of us have to raising our children in what we feel is an appropriate way. And that that conviction can often lead to strife in a marriage I would like to express some of my views on the role a parent should assume in their children's life.
I spent two years as the single parent of my Ex's third child. I was caring for her after watching her being torn up by her mothers behavior. She is a beautiful little girl with so much potential after she works through all the confusion, anger, and pain. I met this child when she was 9-months old. She introduced me to midnight feedings and "mustard diapers". At the time my Ex was living in "transitional housing" with a daughter and son from her second husband, a stepdaughter from her third husband, and her baby daughter from her third husband.
I have walked many miles with this child on my back. Sung her to sleep, helped pull her teeth, picked her up after falling off her bike, taught her to swim, and helped her make snowmen and snow angels. I have taught her to love salads, lobster, peas, lima beans, swordfish, and spinach. She has learned to love anything with "crystal hot sauce" on it on her own. We have gone camping in the skyline, jet skiing in Lake Anna, and swimming with the dolphins in VA beach. We have shared love, anger, frustration, laughter, and heartbreak.
She has been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficient/Hyperactivity Disorder) and depression, has been involved with therapy for quite some time, and is currently taking Concerta (all day timed release Ritlan) and Zoloft. I have taken her to Al-Anon, CoDA, Divorce Care, Individual therapy, and even my EMT classes. She actually seems to be picking up an amazing amount of the stuff. It is my sincere hope that she'll grow up into a young adult that will be able to easily recognize an unhealthy situation and say "I'm not going there!
I believe that it is our responsibilities as parents to set an example to our children in many aspects of life. From how we interact with each other and our friends and family to setting and enforcing appropriate boundaries, to accepting responsibility for ones own actions. I also believe that we need to provide a clear set of rules and consequences that can consistently be enforced and that there should be praise and recognition of correct behavior. We need to instill in our children a healthy sense of self and self-worth. We need to help our children learn to be self confident and independent while not being arrogant and domineering.
It is our responsibility to set an example for our children and show them the love two people can share. How to show respect and compassion for your mate. That it ok to disagree without compromising anyone's personal values. That even as a committed couple we are both individuals with our own life to take responsibility for. We need to show them that because we love them we may say and do things they don't like but they must cooperate. That we are always willing to listen to and discuss their needs and feelings. As a couple we need to agree on a mutually acceptable set of rules, boundaries, consequences, and guidelines that we both are comfortable with. We must show unity, solidarity, and mutual support each other and to the children. One of my pet peeves is consistency. While I do not believe we need to follow our children around and correct every possible shortcoming, I believe that we need to be consistent in correcting unacceptable behavior. If its wrong ANYTIME it should be dealt with (in some manner) EVERY TIME it occurs. We can't "let it slide" for a while and then suddenly, without warning, enforce a rule.
1. Parents are role models for good or ill. - Children pay as much (or more) attention to what parents do as what they say.
2. Use positive reinforcement as much as possible. - Notice and make positive comment on good behavior. - Create opportunities to give positive reinforcement.
3. Minimize yelling, lecturing, name calling, and threats.
4. Find (or make) time for FUN interaction with your kids.
5. Believe in your child's ability to overcome problems, and express that belief explicitly.
6. Create opportunities for children to give to parents and family. - Ask things of your children (feed dog, watch sibling, etc).
7. Enforce consequences for serious behavior. - Talk less, act more. - Don't try to persuade or convince child.
8. Avoid power struggles. (Don't fight, don't give in).
9. Don't worry about every little problem, YOURS or the child's.
10. Don't be afraid to use the word NO. - Children (Including teens) feel more secure when parents set and enforce limits.
11. Accept differences in children. (From yourself, their siblings, and their peers) 12. Set reasonable and age appropriate expectations - Not too little, not too much.
13. Be prepared. - Clarify rules, expectations, and consequences ahead of time.
14. As parents, collaborate as much and best as possible.
15. Allow time for growth and maturation. - Some problems will resolve over time.
Dr. Nicholas Bodor is a Graduate Research Professor Emeritus (active) at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, Gainesville. He joined the university in 1979 as Professor and Chairman of the Medicinal Chemistry Department, and was promoted to Graduate Research Professor in 1983. He is the Executive Director of the college’s Center for Drug Discovery,