Constructing parents, Part 2

Parents don’t just happen … they are made. We build them from scratch. We start them out as children, refine them as they begin school, talk to them about becoming parents as they enter adolescence and encourage them to begin as they become young adults. But seldom do we tell them what the essential ingredients of a good parent are. Building a parent assumes you know certain things about parenting. It assumes you know what ingredients make a “good” parent. Let’s look at what you need to do to be a good parent.


6. Tell your child the truth
Don’t even tell your child little lies. He can handle the fact you are going out and leaving him, but think what you are teaching him when you sneak out or lie. Don’t tell him babies come from storks. Don’t tell him something won’t hurt him when you know it will. Help him to learn you can be trusted.

You are teaching him to believe in you. You are building trust.


7. Give your young child chores to do
Have your preschool age child put napkins on the table or bring down the trash. Can she help by taking her younger brother’s diaper to the washing machine or putting away a towel? What can she hold for you when you are in line at the store?

You are teaching her that she is valuable. You are developing her sense of responsibility.


8. Be consistent with your child
If you say no TV to your child, don’t give in unless there is a good reason; this is a smart young fellow and he will remember. Children like routine, so follow through. If you say, “Get dressed,” make sure he does what you say.

You are teaching him to believe you as well as to be responsible. Again, you are building trust with him and he with you.


9. Dare to discipline your child … not punish but discipline

Children begin to develop a moral conscience at about 24 months but only if you are there to help them to distinguish right from wrong. When something she does is wrong, she must feel there is a consequence; it may be harsh words, a warning, a restriction, a toy being taken away or a time-out. Try to make the consequences relate as closely as possible to the behavior. If there are no consequences now, she won’t believe there are consequences when she is 12 or 15. Don’t let your 4-year-old or even your 2-year-old be in charge … she doesn’t even want to be.


You are teaching her right from wrong. You are helping her learn about accountability for her actions.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and now director of Parenting Matters Foundation. The foundation publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.



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