Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Raising children or raising adults?

Recently I attended a seminar hosted by Life College called Counseling Teens. The speaker, Dr. Larry Keefauver, not only shared his wisdom on the topic but was also very entertaining.
Obviously I am not going to cram an 8 hour seminar into one blog. Below are just some thoughts that are still lingering in my mind.

As parents, we raise adults, not children. This concept taught by Dr. Larry tops my list.
What does it mean? Basically what we do and say during our children's early years is going to shape their future as an adult. You are probably saying "yeah, I already knew that!". So my question would be, "what are you doing about it?" or "what did you do about it?" (depending on whether you are reaching, have reached or have already past those teenage years). Wisdom is the correct application of knowledge.
Sitting in that seminar just reaffirmed what I already believed: If I want to avoid (or at least reduce) teenage problems, I have to start doing the right things now when my Karina (4 yrs) and Damus (2 yrs) still thinks I'm the greatest mom on earth.

So, how do we raise adults? No, it's not making sure our children have an overabundance of tuition classes or extra curricular activities. Flooding our children with material luxuries is not going to hit the jackpot either. It's all about relationship and communication!

With reference to teenagers and quality time with parents, Dr. Larry gave a very disheartening but true to the heart statistic: On an average, mothers spend less than 15 minutes a day with her teenager and fathers, less than 7 minutes a day. Reflect back on your own teenage years to see if this is true. Reflect on your own children to see if this is true.

It is my opinion that communication is the key to any relationship. What can we do to foster such communication when children are young?

  1. Read to your child everyday. It doesn't matter if they can read on their own. Read to them. Use this time to open discussions. Make it as relaxed as possible and not a time to question or test their intellect.
  2. Play with your children. Let them dictate what, where and how to do. Don't be afraid to be silly. And most importantly, don't view it as a waste of time. I know it can seem so when the laundry and dirty dishes are calling. But they can wait for 15 minutes. Bonding is priceless and outranks housework anytime.
  3. Focus on the positive. Don't you agree that parents tend to be on an automatic negative mode. It is so easy to point out everything our children do wrong? But it takes mental effort to give praise and speak uplifting words. Good news is that it is a habit that can be cultivated. Go ahead and give at least 10 praises to your children tomorrow.
  4. Family night once a week. Come together as a family once a week where parents share important messages of truth (such as obedience, honesty, respect, kindness, forgiveness, integrity etc...). Communication is a two way street so children get to air out their feelings as well. This is also a time for the family to have activities together and not forgetting, dessert and treats afterwards.
  5. Making house rules known and consistent disciplinary action. Children need to know what is expected of them. Expectations must be reasonable of course. Don't expect a 3 year old to sit through 1 hour of homework.
    They must also learn that for every action, there is a consequence. They must be given the freedom to choose their consequences whether it be good or bad. However remember that our main goal is "raising adults". Discipline with love as love overcomes all boundaries. Therefore always check that we do not manipulate, dominate or intimidate.

Investing our time in our children takes more effort than investing in material wealth. We must be patient in our sacrifice for our efforts will only show forth in the distant future. Let us make deposits in this intangible bank today so we may be made rich in the days our knees become feeble and eyesight dim.