Parenting can be frustrating and burdensome when we see as only as supervising a child’s growth. However, if parents see it as an opportunity for their personal growth, parenting can be one of the most creative and affirming experiences that life offers. Thus, the holistic growth of a child should be accompanied with the personal growth of the parents. In essence, the key to raising a happy child is for parents to grow up with them.
The great American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr said that the lives of parents are fulfilled through the realization of integrity in their children. This is indeed true and this also means that parents get to realize the full meaning of parenthood in the latter part of their lives. With that said, while we parents are raising our children and honing our parenting skills, it also gives us opportunities to improve ourselves and broaden our own personal horizons as we become role models for our children of the qualities we would like to see in them. For some of us, having children of our own gives us a chance to become the parents we wish that we had — a full circle of sorts, in which we can still do something to change our parenting roles for the better.
No two children are born exactly alike in all aspects; each child is born unique. As a result, each child is born with unique potentials; thus, children develop their own personality styles, temperaments, moral values, and interests. Parents still have strong influences on these qualities. As our children enter the school years, other influences on their individual qualities come from peers, teachers, and society.
Time has definitely changed the atmosphere of every home around the world. There was once a time when parents raised their children happily through the help of their relatives, especially the aunts and grandmothers. As time progressed to our modern era, the distance of new families from their relatives and extended families has widened. Thus, sage parenthood and experiential advice from our relatives became unavailable and we commonly turn to experts for advice out of desperation. Unfortunately, these “expert” advices are taken from the context of prevailing social trends and are turned to childcare fashions and fads that are in effect not helpful to enhancing our parenting skills. These so-called experts bring new trends in childrearing methods such as behavioral modification and conditioning, psychoanalysis, permissiveness and many other trends.
As a result of these faddish trends of expert advice, parents are given the notion that parenting resembles professionalization: that there is a “best” way to raise our children. Almost seemingly gone are the days of traditional parenting where experience and common sense are the key teachers of both parents and children. Now, because of the availability of online help and expert advice for parents, more and more “standards” are emerging on just about anything that concerns raising children: from the “right” way to put a child to bed, to get a child started in school or even leaving a child to the care of a sitter. These “standards” only serve to exasperate parents and give them the feeling that they cannot do enough for their children.
The key to raising a truly happy child is to be happy along with the child. As parents, we should grow with our children in a personal and perhaps even in an emotional manner. We should resist the temptations of miseducating and controlling our children. Children have the natural tendency to please their parents, but let us not abuse their eagerness to please us with warped concepts of authority and control. We need to make our children genuinely happy by giving them relative freedom to discover things and to make choices for themselves while we parents are always on standby should they ever need our help and guidance. Giving our children a sense of early and guided responsibility can lead them to grow up as responsible adults. We parents in turn can learn from our children. We can learn to be honest, be faithful and easy to please and console. There are so many things our children can learn from us, and we can also learn from them and unlearn things for them. How to raise happy children? Grow with them.