Gads, has anyone found the parent’s manual for raising kids yet? Why won’t one manual work for all children? Aye, there’s the rub, isn’t it? We are all so similar, yet each of us has a personality even from birth, so that no one set of “rules” works for all. If we believe the Bible, even the first parents fouled up, as one brother got so angry he killed the other brother, so how do we hope to “do it right”, and rear children that will prosper in their own right and be kind to others? How do we take measure of what our child will need the most as they move from one stage of growth to the next? And, how do we compensate for our own brokenness, and not pass our glitches on to our children? And how do we meet the needs of our babies if we are so broken that we cannot even see past our own glitches?
If I really had the answers to all those questions, I could make a mint, don’t you think? Unfortunately, we can only do the best we can with the tools we are given. So, where do we find the tools we need? Are they in the Bible? Are those tools in some other “Sacred Writ”? Well, not that I have found, at least not so far. So, does modern psychiatry have the answers? Possibly, though even here, not all as the thrust of psychiatry is mending the broken people after they are injured, not preventing the injuries in the first place. But, I have yet to meet a parent that cares that doesn’t want their children to do better and be better people than they were. And that, in a nutshell, seems to be the key. How much does the parent care about the child?
In my own life, I have experienced one thing that seems to hold true for others as well. If one’s parents can convey, through their own trials and difficulties, that they love us with all they have to give, we may, with much soul searching of our own, survive their mistakes and actually prosper as people. It seems to be that, if we do not believe our parents loved us, we cannot believe we are lovable at all. Ouch! If that is the case, then the most important thing, before we do anything else, is to do our best to be sure our children know we love them. If we can do that one thing, then, perhaps, they will be able to sort out the rest as they mature.
Am I sure about this? No, but I am sure that they will find the rest of the basic rules as they go along, after all, we learn in kindergarten to share, to be fair, and not to lie, cheat or steal. And though those are things that parents should try to teach, they will be reinforced along the way by society’s institutions, so that the “rules of engagement” will be part of the child’s thought process as they move into adulthood. But, nobody else besides the parent can provide that one basic ingredient that seems to make life worth living. LOVE!
Dr. Joyce Brothers, in an article about our love map, why we love who we love, addresses the influence of parents on our ability to love and be loved. (I found this at Reader’s Digest, rd.com, the article may have been published elsewhere first, that used to be the case with the Digest, though I cannot say with this article, as there was no reference to another publication) I have always liked Dr. Brothers, but I do want you to be aware that pop psychiatry can only go so deep, you must seek out your own references to go further with the subject. Here she explains some basics that are necessary for us to do the best we can for our children in this primary area of parenting.
I wish I knew of a manual for the rest, I don’t think it exists, but, if it did or does, I hope to find it, and give you a link, as I have yet to find any easy answers from anyone anywhere on how to do it right, without making mistakes along the way. Good luck, and let me know, if you find that manual, I will refer to it here.