Exemplary parenting does not mean that as parents, we have to be faultless since that’s an impossibility, it just means that as parents we ought to model behaviour that we want to see. We already know that our youngest children will copy us, from our mannerisms, how we talk on the phone and of course they always manage to lock onto any curse word we have spoken in a moment of frustration. Yet, being an exemplary parent is possible through being an honest and ordinary human being. Here are some tips to help you along.
Mirror healthy behaviour
Parents can give their children healthy food, exciting games to play, all the clothes they need, a holiday on the coast in the summer and entertainment year-round, but what the child needs more than anything is to see that their parents are united as a couple and love each other. To help nurture your child to have a full and contented life, parents should show affection to each other and leave resentments and arguments for when children are absent. Parents should always be united, never saying “Don’t tell this to mum/dad” or other divisive behaviours. One way to do this is to celebrate important dates as a couple. When it is your wedding anniversary, make the day special. Gift your wife a gift that shows she is the most important woman in your life. This could be a piece of jewellery or home décor that represents this that the child can see each day, such as you can find here. Do the same with celebrating your parents, the child’s grandparents. Choose gifts that show your love, appreciation and respect for them.
True love for your child
Whilst parents are the primary example to their children, there needs to be respected for the child’s freedom of expression balanced with your gentle guidance and help. This is not an easy task, and neither is it intuitive. It cannot be learned like a family recipe, but there are principles that can help in many situations in daily life. How we can be exemplary parents changes over time. Authentic love leads us to discover the best times to cut a child some slack and when to intervene, when to talk and when to be silent, and to know when it’s a good time to have fun or respect their wish to be left alone as well as being able to take an interest in their problems without turning it into an interrogation. Whilst work and career may take a lot of time and energy, the most important job, as a parent, means spending time with our child, giving our full attention with shared activities, to set the best example to our child.
Always be curious
Being an exemplary parent makes you an educator. An educator is not just loving towards the child but is also encouraging curiosity and learning. This is not to focus on prestige or wealth, but about the joy of discovering new things and wanting to learn more. If you are asked a question about why the sky is blue if you don’t know the answer look online together to find the answer. This could be an uploaded video or a short piece of text. This could open up a whole new interest in weather patterns, climate change or astronomy. Encourage new interests and diversions away from technology. Enjoy a sport together, as participants or spectators. If you like books, go to a library and choose some books that you can read together. Encourage good behaviour. As you find the right balance for your child, remember that it is better to be a little excessive with praise rather too little. If a child behaves badly, rather than humiliating them with angry words, explain what is wrong and encourage them to behave better in the future.