Constructing parents, Part 3

Constructing parents, Part 3

Parenting matters

Cynthia Martin

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. Here's more about what you need to do to be a good parent.

10. Give your child choices

Children need to learn to make choices, good ones and even bad ones. Let your child pick out the clothes he wants to wear at least some of the time. Let him pick the wrong toy at the doctor's office rather than the one you think is right for him. There are many times when choices are not appropriate, so it is important to look for the places where it is OK for him to choose.

You are teaching him that you trust him. You are helping him learn that each of us has many choices in life.

11. Let your child experience all kinds of emotions

It really is all right for your child to cry or be sad or be lonely. Though you want to be a good parent, it is important not to prevent her from having the reality of some of the emotions that we may consider negative. Learning comes with being happy, but it also comes with being unhappy or disappointed. Life has some difficult times for each of us but many of these are times are when we learn the most. Let your child have this opportunity.

You are teaching her that life has both ups and downs. You are helping her have realistic expectations of life.

12. Learn when to let go of your child

Don't try to control that which you cannot. You can control TV at home but you can't control what your child watches when he goes to a friend's house. You know what time he goes to bed at home but not at his friend's. Don't lie about the amount of control you have or your child will test you and you will lose.

You are teaching him that you trust him. You are building his ability to have self-discipline.

13. Learn to set limits for your child

Limits exist in life for all of us and a child needs to know hers. She needs to learn manners and courtesy. She depends on you to help her learn what is OK and what isn't. She needs to learn that she has certain tasks to do such as to pick up her clothes or to treat her baby sister gently. She needs to learn about limits from you or she will learn from someone else.

You are teaching her that everyone has rules to follow. You are helping her learn what is expected of her.

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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