Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, they belong not to you. You may give them yor love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.
-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
I have discovered something very common among Filipino families. There are parents who are intent on living out their frustrations on their children. Ever heard of this: Mom's passion was teaching, but due to unwanted circumstances (like mom's parents' inability to provide for her college education), she wasn't able to make her dreams come true. So when she had her first son or daughter, she vowed, "My child will have the opportunity I never had."
Nothing breaks my heart more than hearing stories of friends and acquaintances being "victimized" by their parents. You can choose to avoid a friend who's causing you harm, but how can you distance yourself from the people to whom you come home everyday?
There are parents who treat their children as extensions of themselves, neglecting the fact that the child has a personality and temperament all his own. And just in case Mom and Dad have succeeded in forcing their child to be someone he's not, the child would always feel that he could have done better on his own.
Some children have to deal with parents who desperately want them to be popular among their peers. The child is aware that he would have to suppress his individuality in order to be accepted. It's such a burden to keep up appearances in order to conform.
Parents, please stop playing the comparison game. Does this sound all too familiar? "Why can't you be as good as our neighbor’s son?” or "You're not as pretty/smart/talented as _______." Realize that your child is unique, with both good and bad points, just like the rest of us.
Parenting is tough, there's no doubt about it. But I guess this is what I'd like to advise moms and dads:
Encourage your child to become proficient in an area where he has shown marked potential. It could be anything, from drawing pictures, making snacks, or playing a musical instrument. This will give him a sense of competence and direction, and, not to mention, raise his self-esteem. A child who has learned to value himself will be less likely to turn to addictions to find fulfillment.
Be aware of what you tell your child, because his mind is still impressionable and without the ability to discern. Some moms are amazed at why their daughters are concerned about dieting. Well, you may never have forced her to go on a diet, but she hears your sighs of disappointment over your weight.
Learn to listen to your child and count yourself as his friend. Talk about his fears as well as his aspirations. Find out what is important to your child.
Instill the value of gentle discipline. Make him see that every action has a consequence, whether positive or negative. Teach him to make responsible choices and show him the benefits that he will reap later.
Laugh with your child. Tell him not to take himself seriously. Some things cannot be changed, but he could choose how to react to things that are beyond his control.
Lastly, love your child unconditionally. Show that you appreciate him and value him. He'll soon forget about the new bike, the new toy, and the new pair of shoes. What will remain are the priceless memories he had with his parents.
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