We are living in a world, which is full of the transmission of negative messages. I know someone who once told me they were questioning whether to have children because they were fearful of the world in which they would be raising them.
What should we do when there are so many forces around us, which seem to present hopelessness, and convey there is ‘no use’ in thinking things will get any better for our future generations?
I feel, rather than succumbing to a sense of hopelessness we should become beacons of hope to our children.
Our children need to see a stoic perseverance in us so they know they can supersede our endeavours, that they will be able to stand on our shoulders and achieve greater things than us. It is with this mind-set that we can resist every negativity, which can so easily permeate our family culture and ambitions.
As parents, we have so much power to CREATE, ESTABLISH & INFLUENCE, behaviours in our growing family.
We can CREATE mind-sets in our children, which will affect them for the rest of their lives. We do this by the words, which we speak into their lives, and the example by which we lead.
How are you responding to your child when, for example, they portray particular behaviours which may not be positive? Do you speak what you are seeing or do you try to ascertain what may be influencing and causing them to act in a way, which might not be helpful?
I truly believe that when children show patterns of misbehaviour, as parents, the first thing we should do is look at what we have done to contribute to this behaviour. Some questions I would ask myself are…How much quality time have I spent with them this week? How much screen time have I permitted them to indulge? Have they had enough time to release their energy through outdoor play etc.? Have they spent enough quality time with their close friends, whether this be in person or via technology due to current restrictions? Are they being stimulated or have they plateaued? Have their boundaries been relaxed or over enforced? Who may have influenced them at school or in our social circles?
These are just some questions I would ask. I would never suggest my child is just misbehaving without any recognisable reason. As a parent, I always look to myself and believe my child’s behaviour is not isolated to their character.
I ask these questions because I understand that as a parent, I have the power to create my child’s environment, which will in turn influence their behaviour. It’s about parenting with intention, understanding that my child’s behaviour is a result of the culture I have created for them.
Therefore, when we have created a positive environment, which will affect behaviours, we can then ESTABLISH the culture, which then forms part of our family identity. This is important because establishing a family identity will aid to push out influences contrary to this culture. So, when there is negativity all around, the impact of this will be minimal because you have an established set of behaviour patterns, which are engraved into the mind-set of your child.
With this in place, anything contrary to this established culture will seem foreign to your child or children. The important thing to ensure is that this culture is virtuous. What is virtuous for one may not be for others. However, as a benchmark, I feel this should be a culture, which brings edification, encouragement and a positive perspective of hope and wellbeing. Only then can our children have strength, optimism and something great to look forward to in their future.
With these two forces in place, we can then go on to be an immense INFLUENCE in our parenting. Often parents feel like they have lost their influence, that their children are no longer receptive to their words and instructions, and the culture of society have more impact than their parenting.
However, when we are diligent to ensure we create a positive environment and establish a virtuous culture for our children, we can then see them respond positively to our influence because we speak a language, which they are familiar with and one, which they understand is of benefit to them. Our voice rightfully becomes louder than what they see on the screens, in the educational system and society, which does not always align with the values we want to instil in them.
Therefore, hopeful parenting really is about being intentional in how we chose to raise our little ones in a world full of complex and often conflicting ideologies. I do believe there is so much for our children to look forward to but we - their parents, create the upward trajectory to this hope.
It’s important to understand that influence should always be positive, one, which is underpinned by a deep-founded compassion. This should ultimately lead to their independence and not more dependence. Having done all we can, we can rest assure that when the time comes, they will choose a path which does not deter from their virtues.