By Lucia Ferrara
I am certainly not an expert at parenting, but I tend to think we all have the potential to be great! I’ve contemplated this a lot this last year in my own personal life and I always seem to go back to these three fundamental ideas about raising children who are strong, resilient, confident and independent. I thought I would share these ideas with you all and see what you think!
Let us start with family. A family is more than a bunch of people living together under the same roof. It is many things. For example, family can be biological or not. All families need what Ic call “Family Figures,” by which I mean an older, maybe more experienced person willing to be present in your child’s life. Whether you are a biological family or not we certainly can be available for our young ones to help guide them through life difficulties and show them love.
All the articles in the Family Matters series are available here
Parents teach their kids right from wrong. I like to refer to it as moral courage. But is this enough? Depending on what developmental stage your child is in, they must develop courage through their own practice and experiences. We can teach our kids about how not to lie or saying please and thank you, but children only understand it when they think for themselves. So as family we need to find balance in giving advice, guidance, and authority.
This brings me to foundation. What does the foundation of your family look like? Mine is a foundation built on our spirituality and faith. God is our solid rock, a strong tower that holds us up when we tend to trip or fall in life. For serval years I worked as a Parent Educator for the Parents as Teachers program for the school district, and we emphasized from birth to three years old is when a child’s brain tends to absorb everything in life. I would also include values and beliefs into that mix.
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Sometimes a family’s foundation can develop a crack. When that happens, we don’t have to panic, because we can fix cracks and make the foundation stronger or let it go. We just re-establish ourselves and move on. So, I have learned that each one of my three children is quite a different individual even though all were built on the same foundation. Moreover, let’s help our kids by laying the framework of the following: God and Community, finding their purpose in life, and finally help them to build resilience. The scripture tells us in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
This brings me to the last idea — future. Did you notice how these three ideas build on one another? With family and foundation comes a future. Building a future should include learning to planning ahead not for financial freedom and a college education, but also teaching them to fish for themselves. I hope that I have taught my kids to be independent and wise. Only time will tell!
Jonas Salk, the research physician who developed the polio vaccine, expresses a similar idea with a different metaphor:
“Good parents give their children roots and wings: Roots to know where home is. Wings to fly away and exercise what’s been taught them.”
Not only teach our youth to be responsible and respectful but teach them about making smarter choices, working smart not hard, managing money and achieving their goals!
I want to leave you with one last reflection from the American poet and writer, Maya Angelou;
“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home. A house is not home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”
[Lucia Ferrara is the Director of Hospitality at Precious Blood Renewal Center and the lead organizer here of Parent Cafes. Share your thoughts with Lucia or ask her questions by using the form below or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Parent Café here.]
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