It’s hard being a parent, but it’s harder to be a child misunderstood by your parents. There were times when we expected more patience, demanded more understanding, and asked a little more freedom to be ourselves. And I admire mothers and fathers who respond actively — those who acknowledge their faults, seek advice, and go out of their way to be better guardians.
That is the kind of parent we all want to be. Firm, understanding, and able to own up to our mistakes.
From observing my parents, and from the insights I gathered from parent-friends, I pledge to master these four traits before I decide to bring a child into the world.
The Ability to Apologize to a Child
Some parents argue that, since they are the absolute authority in the household, they don’t need to apologize to their children. However, saying sorry doesn’t diminish the parent’s authority in the eyes of young children.
In fact, apologizing sets an example of how to acknowledge one’s mistake and make amends. It demonstrates the healthy way of dealing with errors: to avoid excuses and not to make the same mistake again. This is an important lesson we should pass on to our kids at an early age.
The Patience in Answering Questions
It’s easy to dismiss children’s questions. From what I’ve observed, some Filipino parents resort to a generic non-answer when they feel annoyed — “Ganu’n talaga”.
I’m not talking about the super tough questions that parents need to answer (those about anatomy and sex). I’m referring to relatively easy questions, like “Where does the moon go?” “Why can’t I say bad words?” “Why do some people eat rabbits?”
It will take a bit of explaining, but it’s best that parents don’t dismiss these questions. Children are hardly placated — they will search for the answer elsewhere. And it’s better that you answer them directly rather than someone else.
Answering questions will lead to more questions, though. They can test your patience, but it’s a fundamental way for children to learn.
The Ability to Be Silly
This is something I learned from caring for my little sister. There are some things that children aren’t simply interested in, like washing their hands before dinner or clearing up their toys after playtime.
Instead of scolding my sister, we put a little twist on these mundane chores. There was a fun rhyme to be followed when washing hands. Or we pretended to be sous chefs putting away pots and pans when cleaning up. When learning shapes and colors, we asked my sister to go around the room and look for something blue and round. When learning math, we used her and her toys’ names as examples.
These activities may sound silly for an adult, but we observed that kids are far more interested when there’s fun involved in a task.
The Value of Social Awareness
I’ve encountered grade school children who barely have any consideration for other children in the playground. Some needlessly hog the swings, throw dirt at their playmates, and call their friends mean nicknames. The worse part, their parents dismiss these behaviors as rough play.
My parents’ take — and it worked splendidly, judging from my sisters — is that it’s never too early to teach empathy. Inconsideration isn’t something that a child outgrows. For so long as they get away with misdemeanors, they might not be able to acknowledge the fact that what they do hurts others.
So, for children to be productive and considerate members of society, it’s best to set an example of social awareness. My parents explained why we need to impose certain limitations on our part, so we can give way to others.
Teaching this value to our children will help them become aware of their actions, understand the concept of fairness, and be more selfless early on.
As the cliché goes, our children deserve the best. These include being the best parents that we can be for them — they deserve guardians who know how to set examples and direct them towards empathy. Children deserve parents who set the standard of consideration and emotional health.
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