Sometimes as a parent we have knowledge that we take for granted. Simple things that we have learnt on our life journey that help give us the directions and cues on how to navigate modern life. As the parent, there are certain things that I would like my children to know now, that can help create a foundation on which they can build a happy and peaceful life:
(1). I love them and always will.
This is not something that I say at predetermined intervals, but something that I make sure I say in a variety of circumstances. I want them to know that even if I am unhappy with their behaviour, I do still love them.
(2). Always try.
There is no failure except in no longer trying. Elbert Hubbard.
In their life they will come across many challenges and unknowns. Although they may be a bit scary they also provide opportunities. I want them to know that I would rather that they try or have a go and will accept the results, rather than never having the courage to try.
(3). They have the right to say no.
From a child safety aspect they need to know that they must say no, when things are making them uncomfortable. Megan from Imaginif child protection became serious business, has a great model on how to teach protective behaviours in children.
Also, although I can often find this infuriating, they need to know that they have the ability to control what happens to them and that they can practice with me by saying no to my requests. I have taught them that saying no is generally not enough on its own. They need to form an argument, suggest a compromise or come up with an alternative solution, if they want to change my mind. This aims to teach them the power of negotiation and that they can resolved issues through talking in the first instance.
(4). Where their food comes from.
Completely different emphasis from the emotional points above, but we have four kids growing up in the city and it is easy for the m to assume that the supermarket will always be stocked with fresh fruit and veg, meat etc. In Australia, due to a combination of factors, but most significantly due to environmental factors the price of food is increasing.
I want my children to understand the food chain, so they can appreciate the impact that they have on the environment and what the flow on effects to food production can be. Knowing where their food comes from can help grow their respect for the environment.
(5). Our quality of life is excellent.
We live in a part of the world where we expect to live beyond the age of 75. We have running water, electricity, security and a free democracy. I want them to know that this is not the case for all children.
(6). Manners are important.
To let them know that manners are important I need to role model their appropriate use. I need to not interrupt them when they are talking; I need to use please and thank you when I am requesting them to do things; I need to knock before entering their room if the door is closed.
(7). There will be disappointments.
There will be rejection. They will not always win. They may get chosen last on the football team.
I need my children to know that they will face disappointments and it will not always go their own way. But I also need them to know how to cope with this: dwelling on disappointment will not help, learning from the experience will. Looking to blame others is not helpful, talking about how they feel can allow them to express their emotions.
(8). Life is to be enjoyed.
I need them to know that I value laughter and I value happiness. By taking time out to show that I enjoy life, I can encourage them to keep perspective and aim for a balanced life.
(9). Honesty will always be valued.
Even as adults we can make mistakes, but I need my kids to know that it is better to admit a wrong decision or misguided deed than to lie to cover it up. I want them to value honesty and understand its importance.
(10). Respect your body.
The children need to know that they have one body to get them through their life, and that they need to take care and respect it. They need to take responsibility to eat well, exercise and think about the consequences of their actions may have on their body (eg. risk taking behaviour, toxins).
What are the most important things that you want your children to know?