“Parenting is a type of skill that most parents least develop as they think it would come to past — not realising that on this skill is where the future highly lies.”
Ina one fine night, while Elsa prepares her little daughter to sleep she heard a tiny whisper. “Mom, can you tell me another story about the little-you again?” After a brief pause Elsa responded, “Hmm, I think I already told you almost everything, didn’t I?”, while her memory started to reminisce as she speaks, and then her daughter appealed, “Tell me more… please…”
Elsa sat beside her daughter. Before saying a word she has smelled something similar to a manure. Elsa smiled, she thought she’s reliving her memory and started reimagining clearly those old surroundings. The cracked skin of the elephant, the taste of the cold ice cream, and the smell of newly painted slide that she climbed about dozens of times are all so vivid. And then, “It all started with my first ever field trip on a zoo”, she began.
Then the story leads to another and on to the next. Elsa recalled how clear the zoo experience was as if it just happened yesterday.
We are all made of stories of the past. As a result, we are now presently being part of the memories that will again form another stories from the point of view of our children — stories to pass on to their future kids. A very fascinating cycle of life.
Given the obvious pattern of repetition, even if the next generation will stand in the same old earth we have today, in the future, they will be in a very dissimilar place.
Irrelevant today can be precious soon after. Things that we think matter today can be not so important even half a decade past.
Future is impossible to predict, but every parent can focus on giving their children a strong foundation. How prepared are we? Do we need to discover something new, or we only need to stick on some essential few?
The first step is NOT to add more — but to quit more.
Below are the 13 habits every young parents today should QUIT to equip children to the ever challenging world ahead.
“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand. “ — Confucius
1. “Show don’t tell”
this is one of the best technique great filmmakers are using on creating a one of a kind movie. On raising a child, this technique also comes handy.
Big Life Journal creator Alexandra Eidens wrote that “kids learn by many means, but the two strongest are by taking action and having role models in their lives.”
All babies are born to be an individual. Parents are just instruments to put these babies out into the world — a model to their little ones.
Being a role model is all about showing, and not telling.
For a child, they cannot learn only by listening, they have to witness and be inside the experience. By modeling, parents act as a startup-map for their little ones. Children won’t find the right way if parents that only narrate the direction. For someone to find the direction, one must show the way.
Writer M. Scott Peck wrote “To a child his or her parents are everything; they represent the world. The child does not have the perspective to see that other parents are different and frequently better. He assumes that the way his parents do things is the way that things are done.”
Kids observe the way their parents talk, the way they live a life and handle difficult situations — kids love to imitate.
The child has no choice but to learn and absorb everything to be right.
Arianna Huffington said it best, “If you look at the best research on parenting […] what it comes down to is who you are, because we teach who we are. You read, your child will read. You watch too much TV, your child will. You do service in the world, your child will do service in the world.”
2. Quit entrusting your kids to the environment
“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.” — W. Clement Stone
Home is the start of everything. For every child, it’s the foundation of their identity. But a home without presence forces the child’s attention to be diverted on other things. Sometimes it’s diverted on to school, peers, apps, toys, and even television which continually spawns on every household today (with easy access in the living room). The parents can be physically present but mindfully absent.
The parents who compromise just exchange it with the other effort to support this kind of environment. They work overtime to buy these things only to fill up their absence.
It’s an endless cycle, which put the child as a victim.
Now, these kids have the least time and attention from the person most matters to them.
Few parents understand this — that even a short amount of time is an opportunity. It’s the time they don’t want to waste — a time to listen.
Kids don’t need things, they need presence.
3. Quit adding more
“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” — Charles Spurgeon.
We are in a generation with lots of options, whether on things, information, people, and activities. Still, most people can’t get enough.
They collect things endlessly. They say yes a lot. They tried, but never stick. They’re in a hamster wheel.
Now, when in this pool of overwhelm, to spot the essential is no longer easy. Because the meaningful now blends into the noise.
A great book Essentialism by George Mckeown stated that more and more people today over valued things even it feels to be unessential. He explained clearly;
“We overvalue nonessentials like a nicer car or house, or even intangibles like the number of our followers on Twitter or the way we look in our Facebook photos. As a result, we neglect activities that are truly essential, like spending time with our loved ones, or nurturing our spirit, or taking care of our health.”
Most people are seeking for more, without realising that essentials are only to be found by aiming less.
To have less, it starts with decluttering. Decluttering doesn’t only work on things. It includes decluttering thoughts, commitments, and unhelpful habits.
What matters in life cannot be acquired by navel-gazing on the internet or in shopping malls.
It all starts inside.
Start defining what is meaningful to you. If you quit adding more, you will eventually feel this sense of freedom. That in order to feel fulfilled you don’t need to add more things or be in places with people you don’t really like.
Because the truth is, if you have what keeps you alive and growing, you have enough.
Choose what money can’t buy.
4. Quit shallow attention
Most of my unmarried friends often cry how overwhelming life is… and I tell — “watch out when you got kids!”
Being a millennial parent doesn’t demand us to settle down, but to settle up then down to the bottom, tumbling and rolling — in short parenting demands us to be a a distracted multitasker. As stoic mother Meredith A. Kunz wrote “the act of parenting itself is not only dull at times, it is really an exercise in constant distraction. From the moment children are born, they are unpredictable beings with many needs.”
It’s happening simultaneously. While parents take care of their little ones they also need to maintain a great relationship with their partners, have a job, pursue passion on the side, and maybe start a side business from that, take care of own body, connect with people, travel… It’s an endless juggle.
No one ever saw it coming, and everyone is under the challenged on how we can handle it better.
If it’s predicted, we could have been more prepared, but that’s not how it works. True learning happens by being able to face and overcome the unpredictable. Stepping into the unknown.
We are born with this challenge, and this is something that we can own.
A lot of parents of this season are experiencing a great deal of distractions. Some parents treat that having a child as an ‘add-up’. Sadly, the child becomes blended with the noise. Deep attention towards another gets very scarce.
Adele Faber, author of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, wrote,
“Children don’t need to have their feelings agreed with; they need to have them acknowledged.”
Every child needs deep attention from their parents. For parents, it’s just a matter of choice.
It’s either you shut other things in silence, or you multitask, while compromising your child.
All parenting season will soon come to pass —so consider having a mindful talk, mindful walk, mindful hugs.
Kids is not attention grabber forever. Let them be kids. I promise, no teen would distract his mom again just to ask if she can open a candy wrapper.
5. Quit these baby-sitters
Today, in order to #feel-accomplished on giving birth, every mother only need two things — a gynaecologist and a smart phone.
Kids of this generation generally born with twins, a gadget.
Other than burp cloth, nappies, and breast pumps, smartphone is a must on the checklist.
It’s a great thing, we can capture the first cry, and if you want to stop it — just play a YouTube music.
As long as it won’t get to worse, to the level that — pointing screen is what the child masters first before he can even talk.
There are lots, lots, and lots of studies about the side effects of too much exposure on screen, especially for young ones. Tech addiction expert Dr. Nicholas Kardaras wrote that, “I’ve worked with hundreds of heroin addicts and crystal meth addicts, and what I can say is that it’s easier to treat a heroin addict than a true screen addict”
Not even in a dream of any parent would like to be in this kind of situation. But to be taken controlled by our gadgets instead of having the power to control it makes it easier to avoid an upcoming dilemma.
The book Parenting in the Age of Attention Snatchers written by Lucy Jo Palladino PhD. had a very detailed explanation about the major neurological effect of being glued to screens constantly — especially to young ones. She explained that by constantly allowing the child to be over-stimulated (like having an unlimited play) will develop a wrong set of neurological muscles — or what she calls the involuntary attention.
In the book she discussed the two types of attention:
- Involuntary attention — known to be passive, reactive, happens on flow, triggered from colorful distractions, and effortless. This attention eventually develops when a child constantly interacts with a shallow task or always engage with an easy or entertaining routine.
- Voluntary attention — requires focus, active, and deep thinking. This kind of attention develops deliberately, or by practicing some sort of effort on any given task.
The author also highlights how voluntary attention becomes very essential for child development. Sadly, today it’s starting to become an endangered ability because of the increasing numbers of attention snatchers around us.
Walter Mischel, of the the marshmallow test recommends to use “strategic allocation of attention” — which means that parents should establish rules and rituals to help young children outsmart their immediate desires.
Minimising starts somewhere.
We can be a model of discipline, how we use the gadgets and when we need to use it. Screen time should not be open-ended.
Creativity for kids (and in general) wasn’t born in the middle of entertainment, it happens more often while settled and even on the times of boredom.
It happens on play pretend not on pointing screens.
Remember, we are in the generation where we have plenty of options.
Use technology with some other positive ways, not as a babysitter .
“If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” — Carl Jung