‘Older’ parents with hindsight often have the weirdest points of view along with the privilege of reflection. Contrary to parents busy raising students and caught up in the rush-rush of life, their insight often differs considerably to what popular culture dictates.
If you could fast-forward a couple of decades and listen to the future you, this is probably what she/he would tell you regarding parenting. Time and time again these are the reoccurring top tips that surface from parents who have been there. If they could do it over, or advise their own kids actively raising students, this is what they would say.
It’s okay to let things fall apart
So many parents get so overwhelmed trying to be the perfect parents, balance work, finances, faith, life fundamentals, education and all else. Yet, the reality is that as a parent, more often than not, one often falls behind even with all the modern technology of time-keeping apps, calendars and virtual assistants.
Not only do you catch yourself worried about self, but your children, spouse, the future and the ever changing environment you’re raising your children in. Experienced parents often reaffirm how they wished they knew that it was okay to let things fall apart. It is okay to get tired and overwhelmed.
Use an ‘all fall down’ as a learning opportunity to show your kids that life is not about chasing perfection, but rather rising again even after missing the mark.
Learn as many languages as you can
Even if you’ve lived in the same city all your life, learning different languages can give your children an unmatched advantage in the work force and socially. Being a multilingual speaker opens up the world. It stretches you to think and experience more, and living in this information and digital age, it is now easier than ever before.
With the availability of so many mobile language apps, you don’t even need to attend special classes or pay for tuition.
Whether it is adding a local or international language to your “New Year resolutions” or random goals, don’t wait. Start now (remember kids also learn by copying you).
Encourage individual sports from an early age
As a parent, it is difficult to know where to cast your net. Individual sports is one of those topics. Some critics says let your child try a bit of everything from a young age. Yet other researchers discourage it as they disagree with filling up a child’s diary to exhaustion. Not to mention the tiredness from having a parent dash from one class to the next.
Parents who have successfully raised halfway decent, happy children may often disagree on how many activities to enroll your child in, but one thing remains uncontested; individual sports (especially from an early age) can help to teach your child about self-discipline.
Sport shows them that “practice makes perfect”, it can grow their self-confidence, release tension, teach them about good sportsmanship and be that one thing that they really enjoy.
Don’t underestimate the value of “finishing last”
Society propels us to push our children to be first. This can sometimes be pushing your child to a level and field of incompetence. However, some students are “average learners” or even below average. As a parent, you need to encourage them to be the very best that they can be and reassure them that it’s enough, as long as they know that they have done their very best.
One parent narrated how she refused to allow her child (a second reserve) to back down at a major athletic event. Competition was so tough that the faster runners refused to run as they feared embarrassment. Her daughter reluctantly ran and “finished last” amidst the cheering school and laughs. Later as an adult she thanked her mom for pushing her to face her biggest fear and said from that moment on, she was no longer afraid because she faced “the worst” and lived it.
The number one tip is to simply be there. You don’t even need to know the answers or what your child is feeling – simply being there is more important to a child than anything else. Be there to support them through a major breakup even though you detested their partner (that they swore was their soul mate).
Be there especially when they expect you to leave. If they fall pregnant early or impregnate a stranger, now is not the time for the “I told you so” speech. Just be there. Your loving presence, even when you don’t approve, can reassure your child that they are unconditionally loved and are therefore important.
So much greater than perfection, you want to leave a legacy of love.