What I’ve Learned From My Parents
Am I doing enough to prepare my child for all of life’s challenges? This is a question I ask myself every day. And, I’m almost 100% sure I’m not the only parent wondering about this. Being a parent in today’s world comes with so many difficult choices. When do we know that we’ve done enough to protect our kids? And how do we recognize the signs that we’ve taken a step too far?
Sometimes, I really feel like every single parenting decision I make has to be the absolute right one. But then I remember my childhood and realize that my parents never made choices for me. They just made sure I had the guidance to decide what’s best for the direction in life I want to take. And now that I have kids, I realize that takes a tremendous amount of strength.
So, if you too find yourself wondering what you can do to bring out the best in your kids without taking over control of their lives, these are the lessons I’ve learned from my own parents.
Teach Kids to Face Consequences for Their Actions
When I was about 10, I felt that I had experienced the worst sort of injustice from my parents: I had forgotten a school project, which was due to be turned in that day, at home. As I realized halfway to school, my mom refused to turn the car around, and I was shocked. How could my mom, of all people, not love me enough to make sure that I got a good grade?!
But now, many years later, I realize just how important that lesson was. It was the absolute best way to teach me how each of my actions had consequences. And that the only person responsible for my school work was me.
Of course, on the grand scale of things, that moment had almost no consequences. After all, it’s not like it endangered my academic career. But, it did what it was supposed to: it taught me that I needed to take responsibility in the best possible way I could understand at the moment. And let me tell you, it worked. I never forgot my homework at home ever again.
Show Them the Importance of Self-Improvement
Since the age of four, I’ve had a packed schedule. I was enrolled in dance lessons, music lessons, foreign language lessons, karate – you name it. On the weekends, they would have me attend art and maths workshops. And any extracurricular activity I showed even the mildest interest in would be encouraged wholeheartedly.
But while I thought it was just because I was interested in all the things, now that I’m a mom, I realize that wasn’t exactly the case. It was a conscious decision made by my parents to show me that I could learn anything. Even things I was hopelessly horrible at.
Now that I have kids of my own, I know just how important it is to teach the concept of self-improvement from an early age.
For example, as my older son prepares for his CAT4, I see that he has excellent reading skills but needs help with non-verbal parts of the test. So, we’re doing some study sessions that will help him become familiar with the types of questions he should expect at his test. That way, both he and I will know that he has done all the work necessary to give himself the best chance to succeed.
Always Show Your Kids You Believe in Them
The last lesson I’ve learned from my parents is just how big of a difference it makes knowing that someone out there supports you and believes in you.
So many times, as a kid and as an adult, I’ve found myself in a situation when I didn’t know if I had what it takes to do something. It could be sending an application to my dream college, applying for that job I definitely didn’t have the experience for, or just trying out for the lead in the school play. But the one thing that helped me push through my fears is that my parents always had my back.
They didn’t fill my head with delusions about my abilities. But they always said: “If it’s something you find important, you need to go after it. Otherwise, you’ll just find yourself regretting that you haven’t tried.”
As a mom, I try to implement the same approach when parenting my children. I make it my point to show them my support, whatever they choose to do. Because it’s not just that I want them to be happy. I know from personal experience that having a healthy dose of family support makes a huge difference when heading out to meet new challenges.
Show Them You Support Them
As you’re well aware, parenting has its fair share of ups and downs. But the most impactful thing we can do for our kids isn’t to provide them with material things. On the contrary, it’s to give them our full support to reach their maximum potential.
So, if you ever find yourself wondering: “Am I doing enough,” stop and ask yourself instead: “What can I do to help bring out the best in my child?”
You won’t just find that the answers to these questions are vastly different. More importantly, you’ll see that helping kids reach their full potential has a much more positive impact than losing energy on trying to meet expectations of what good parenting should look like.
By Sarah Kaminski
Sarah is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows.