Self-Transformation Series:
Issue No. 37

The Art of Parenting

Table of Contents

I. Why Important

II. The Cost of Wrong Parenting

III. Self-Awareness

IV. Five Tools of Parenting

I. Why Important

The life of an adult depends very greatly upon his or her childhood -- on how oneís parents or elders have brought him up. Parental influence, example, pressure and behavior will all have a major on the happiness or unhappiness of a person, his character and potential to succeed in whatever he may choose to do in life.

Knowing how to raise children therefore is one of the most useful and important skills or arts that one can learn. This potential for influence is not limited to parents, but to any elder whose behavior will influence the young.

II. The Cost of Wrong Parenting

Wrong parenting skills are the causes of young people who are driven to drugs, delinquency, who are low in self-esteem and lacking in self-confidence. They do not know how to deal with life problems -- whether it is with people, with events, or with things. As a result they become unhappy, frustrated or failures in life.

III. Self-Awareness

There are many known and tested approaches to parenting. Below are some of them. Crucial to the development of the parenting skills is Self-Awareness, the capacity to be able to see and observe oneís feelings, thoughts, behavior.

Self-awareness can gradually be developed by practicing awareness of oneís bodily state, and then oneís feelings, and later thoughts. This process is the key to true relaxation, and is the necessary preparation for meditation.

IV. Five Tools of Parenting

Here are five valuable tools of parenting offered by author Steven Vannoy, in his book entitled The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children.

1. Focus on the Constructive and Positive

When there is a problem, some parents have the tendency to look for who is to blame, and why things happened. This is backward focusing. We are more concerned with the problem than with the solution.

Try "forward focus": seeing the solution or what will work.

Parents often see the faults of their children and nag on them. What would you yourself feel if someone keeps on pointing out to you your faults and hardly any of your good points? You lose self-confidence and self-esteem.

"If you want to get great performance from someone, you donít point out where theyíre weak or what they did wrong. If you want them to do better, focus on their strengths, and theyíll go harder and harder in that direction."

Examples of forward focus questions: "What has been the highlight of your day?" "What were the best parts of the concert/movie, etc.?" "What do you like best about a teacher, a friend, etc.?" "What would be the benefit of that actions?"

Some effects of forward focusing:

2. Choose your messages to your children

Essentially, there are two kinds of messages we can give our children:

1. Hurtful messages that belittle or diminish them, such as: "I donít know whatís wrong with you, I never saw a kid like you." "Iím your father and as long as you live in my house youíll do as I say." "Are you blind?"

2. Love messages that reinforce their goodness, talents, and possibilities. Examples: "Good job" "I really like the way you did that." "How do you think we should handle this?" "I am so glad youíre part of this family." "Will you show me how you did that?"

3. Teach by Questions

Adults normally teach children by telling them. Try this approach: Ask questions. Instead of saying: "It is bad to your sister. Never do it again." Ask: "What will sister feel when you bite her? What do you think should we do?" Allow the child to think and realize things.

4. Listen

"We could put up ten-foot banners around the house reminding our children how much we love them or how special they are, and yet these will have far less impact than a simple act of truly listening." (Steven Vannoy)

Really listening means "listening until the person is finished, paying attention to nonverbal clues, and not planning your response until the other person is finished talking."

By really listening:

5. Be Their Model

"Modeling is one of the most important, yet simple, parenting tools you can use. Itís a tool that keeps working even when youíre not around because your children see how your life is working, what kind of results you create by the way you live. Remember, your children cannot hear what you say until they see what you do."

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Copyright 1995. Permission to reprint is granted provided acknowledgment is made to:
Peace Center
Theosophical Society in the Philippines, 1 Iba St., Quezon City, Philippines

"If five percent of the people work for peace, there will be peace."