How well do you know your child

This is the last article in a series of blogs that explores various aspects of parenting. This article focuses on how well and how much we know about our children. This question is explored not for the purpose of being snoop and being a detective, but more as a basis of establishing a long-lasting relationship based on trust and friendship.

The first article is called Ages and Stages, offering a glimpse into the various stages that notably the child goes through but also ways in which the parental role changes as the stages change. The link to the Ages and Stages article can be found in our blog.

The second article is called Loving Our Children and explores various ways in which we love our children. The link to Loving Our Children can be found in our blog.

The third article on Discipline looks at the purpose of Discipline and together with Love can be used to set limits and logical consequences associated with the limits.

The fourth article on The Power of Thoughts explored ways in creating a positive environment, for us as parents as well as for our children, to meet the challenges and problems of everyday life.

It is our hope and objective that by raising the awareness of these topics, we will provide a platform for parents and children to share their experiences, to engage in a meaningful discussion on what works and what doesn’t and ultimately this would benefit us all from the shared wisdom.

How well do you know your child?

“Every child is a different kind of flower, and all together, they make this world a beautiful garden.” – Author: Unknown

How well do you know your child? No, it’s not the name of another TV game show. And before you rush off to your child’s journal or personal diary – sorry – that’s a different generation – before you go checking their cell phone for messages and their Facebook page for who they have friended, the question How well do you know your child? is not about playing detective and snooping around trying to find out every little bit of information about them. Instead, at the heart of the question is the level of connection that you have with them, it’s the basis of a relationship that you nurture with them and it’s about the child feeling comfortable and confident to confide with you whatever is happening in their lives, good or bad.

Yes, most of us know the basic information about our child, and so the question is focusing on things that make up who they are, their personality and their uniqueness. If you search for the phrase “How well do your know your child” on any search engine, there will appear a number of web-sites offering quizzes and games related to the question. And for fun, take one or two of the quizzes. The experience will be an eye-opener and don’t feel too bad if you didn’t score as well as you expected. It’s never too late to start thinking about the question. It will prompt you to spend more time with your child, discussing more of the child-centered things that will give you a better insight into who they are and how well you know them.

Some of my favorite questions are around friends. Many faiths mention “show me your friends and I will tell who you are”. Friendship is tied closely to behavior, actions and ultimately, character. So it’s not only important to know who your child’s friends are but also why they chose them as friends? What qualities/attributes do they recognize in their friends? These types of questions take on greater relevance as your child progresses through different ages and stages. An example is the frequency of communication as they age. Children in the 6-8 year range are eager and willing to share everything. Teenagers not as much. And teenagers tend to be selective in what they consider safe to share and what they want to keep to themselves.

And as the beginning quote implies, each child is unique. So in families with multiple children, expect that they all will have different likes/dislikes and different personalities. One of the mistakes that we make as parents is to compare a child to their siblings. Both negative and positive comparisons. And this comparison is not just with their siblings. In some cultures, comparison with cousins and comparison across generations (we have all heard sentences that begin with: when I was your age, I used to…..) are common. The comparisons are hurtful to the child and if repeated many times, lowers their self-esteem. And they will remember the comparison long into adulthood. Most of all, children want to be themselves, not what others expect them to be and as parents we need to not only accept that, but also encourage it.

Acceptance, understanding, encouragement, recognition and approval are all key elements of a balanced parent-child relationship. And these qualities act as a catalyst to an open and honest communication. And isn’t that most of us would want in our relationship with our children?

As parents, we try our best to be a good parent. The same applies to our children, they want to be good. I don’t think anyone ever starts out by saying “I want to be a bad parent” or “I want to be a bad child”. Yet for parents, it is so easy to get caught up in careers, technology, keeping up with Jones’ (no offense to people with that surname) etc. And for the children, it is so easy to get distracted, so many temptations and enormous pressure to conform. To counter this, open and honest communication (a true dialogue) is needed. This will foster trust and provide a basis of a long-lasting relationship filled with happiness, appreciation and mutual admiration.

“The bud stands for all things,

even for those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow

of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;….”

From “Saint Francis and the Sow” by Galway Kinnell

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