Parenting In Focus: What is special about parenting for you?

Think about being a parent. What makes it special for you? Are there parts of parenting you look forward to each day? Is parenting what you thought it would be? Do you wish things were different about being a parent?

These are all questions each of us should think about. Being a parent is one of the most important jobs you will ever have,

Talk with your child about past experiences. Now that Christmas is over, does your child remember what it was like last year. Talk with him or her and see what they do remember about past holidays.

When you take the time to find out what he or she remembers it gives you a clue about what your child values. It gives you some real clues about ways to improve your family life.

Teach your child to look around. Teach her to pay attention to the details of the world around her. See if she sees ways that trees are alike and how they are different. See if she noticed the flowers you put in the yard when she was in school yesterday. Have her look out the window and watch a bird as it flies by.

Play a game with your son and the cars on the road. See if he can find a specific color car he really likes. See if talking about the car, you learn what his favorite color car would be. Talk about the size of the car and see if he can find the smallest yellow car you drive past.

Just talking about those kinds of things helps you learn more about what he is interested in. He may change the subject and that is fine. Learn about something new that interests him.

This is a great way for your children to learn to pay attention, to be creative, to learn about comparing items, and even practice expressing themselves. At the same time, you are learning what things are important to your child.

Give some thought about what your children will remember about their childhood. Are they the things you would hope they would remember?

We all want our children to have fond memories of their childhood. One school recently asked children, “What makes a happy home?” From the results of the school survey, the school learned that it wasn’t the fancy vacations a family took but the everyday ways families interacted that made fond memories for the children.

One child said, “My dad and mom hugged me a lot.” She was 8.

A 5-year-old said, “My house has a big refrigerator with artwork and magazines and magnets all over it.”

Another 11-year-old child said, “In my house when it’s happy there’s music playing, and we all dance together.”

A 4-year-old said, “I like it when my mommy brushes my hair for a long time and sings songs to me.”

Like our children, we parents have a lot to learn. Much of that can be learned from being a parent.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which published newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents.