Living: Family mediator Margaret Pickard shares Parenting Pearls
– J.K. Rowling, the author of the wildly popular Harry Potter series, advised Harvard graduates at the school’s 2008 commencement, that while she did not always follow the advice of her parents, she did not blame them for their noble hopes and desires for her.[i] Rowling noted that there “is an expiration date on blaming your parents” for who we become as adults.
While children cannot forever blame their parents, the reality is that parents set their children down the path of life and set the foundation for who they will become.
Without a whole lot of therapy, it’s hard for children to shake the early start they get in life from the family unit, whether that start is positive or negative. However, at some point, the road will eventually divide and children will choose their own path to follow.
Ultimately, society will hold them accountable for the choices they make when they reach the fork in the road and are no longer guided solely by their parent’s influence.
Good parenting is crucial to the success of the child. While families come in all shapes and sizes, in parenting, the framework of the family unit consists of a caregiver and a child. There are no preconceived notions of an ideal family unit, but only the underlying premise that the ideal family unit provides a child nurture and love.
Research across the board demonstrates that “[t]he family seems to be the most effective and economical system for fostering and sustaining the child’s development.”[ii]
In my experience, the best parenting practices can be summed up in three simple concepts:
- Do Less
- Say Yes
- Be Your Best!
Many parents have a hard time believing this, and an even harder time putting this into practice. However, they need to be reminded that the ultimate goal of parenting is to become dispensable to our children.
As hard as this may be for some parents to accept, a parent’s job is to raise self-sufficient adults who are happy, healthy and productive members of society who are excited to venture out on their own and cut the apron strings from their own parents. In order to do this, parents have to stop over-parenting and do less for their children so their children can learn to do more for themselves.
Instead of telling a daughter that she can’t go to her friend’s house until her room is clean, parents can turn the statement around and offer a positive incentive: “Sure you can go to your friend’s house, just as soon as your room is clean.” See the difference? The second statement offers positive reinforcement and motivation, and empowers the child to know what she can do after she takes action.
It’s amazing how children thrive with positive parenting.
This also means that parents need to be positive examples to their children.
Children will inevitably mimic the parenting styles they grew up with, for good or bad. So, parents need to analyze their own behavior and consider the example they are setting for their children.
I have always been impressed by the fact that my husband notices the name tags of restaurant staff and offers them the respect of calling them by their name. Call it insignificant, but our children have also noticed this behavior and imitate the respectful way he treats others.
When I was growing up, a poem entitled “Children Learn What They Live” hung in our kitchen. Now that I am a parent it has come full circle because I am living what I learned. That’s it — YOU are the lesson for your children. Be your best.
[i] J.K. Rowling, The Fringe Benefits of Failure. Harvard Commencement, June 2008.
[ii] Bronfenbrenner, Urie., Is Early Intervention Effective? TEACHERS COLLEGE RECORD 76:2, 279-303 (1974).
Family law attorney, author, and educator, Margaret Pickard serves as an Outsource Mediator and Parent Coordinator for the Las Vegas Family Courts. Recognized as 2011 Peacemaker of the Year and named among the 2014 Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in Nevada, she has also taught at numerous universities and is the author of The Unbroken Circle of Love and Proof-Positive Parenting: What Social Science Research Tells Us About Raising Responsible Kids.