Parenting is a very invaluable part of our lives – whether we have children of our own, or simply caring for someone else’s. This topic is highly relevant to overseas Filipino families because so many of them have at least one parent absent, or, worse, both. Statistics have shown that the influence of the environment such as peers and situations happening outside the home will increase as one or both parents are away. The sad reality is, many OFW parents think that leaving their children in the care of relatives can replace their absence. Even with the proper guidance of responsible guardians, nothing replaces the presence of ‘tatay’ or ‘nanay’.
I recently had the privilege to be part of a series of parenting seminars run by Philippine parenting expert Ms. Maribel Dionisio of AMD Love Consultants. Maribel has been in the business of parenting for the past 20 years and more, and really knows her stuff! Her series of talks sponsored by a financial services company in several schools in Metro Manila and nearby Luzon revolves around Parenting 101 and is an acronym from letter A to letter F, for easy recall.
The age of regulation is from 1 to 7 years old. This is what Maribel calls the “tutok” stage. It is the period where our children are most dependent on us. Between the ages of 8 to 12 years old is the age of imitation, where children tend to be more independent, exploring things on their own. And when they hit the ages of 13 years old and up, they are at the age of inspiration where our children prefer to explore their independence. At this point, parents are ‘consultants’ of their kids. If we do a good job, the result will be caring, confident and capable children.
A – ttention giving
Us parents know how much attention our children want from us, no matter how small the concern may seem. The thing is, it’s never small, or trivial, with our children. Maribel suggests setting a ‘date’ with your child, which means spending a specific, regular time each week for each child. You can’t go on dates with all your children at the same time; the point is a one-on-one interaction to make them feel special and know that your attention is on them 100%.
B – uilding self-worth
As parents, we tend to be perfectionists when it comes to our children. We only want what’s best for them and want them to succeed in everything that they do. However, kids need to feel loved, no matter what the outcome of their actions are. Building self-worth means recognizing the positive qualities of the child, and constantly affirming them and recognizing effort. They need to know that even if they don’t get it right the first few times, or make mistakes, that their efforts count for something, and that we love them just the same.
C – ommunicating regularly
Have you noticed that we have two ears and only one mouth? This means that we are meant to listen more than talk. Communication is critical in any relationship, especially with your children. One must always listen with respect, and summarize what was said in less than 20 words. This makes your child know that he or she was understood. In speaking to them, your I-messaging, which means this formula: I feel … when … because …. For example, I am worried when you spend two hours straight on the PS3 because your eyes can get too strained. Please cut it down to an hour.
D – isciplining with love
Parenting involves disciplining as well. You can’t give in to your child’s whims and wishes all the time. They need to understand that there are rules, and rules are meant to be followed. If they are not, there are consequences, which are natural and logical. For example, If you don’t wake up on time, you will be able to prepare for school, and this means the school bus will leave you. Another could be, If you don’t eat lunch now, you will get hungry, and you will have to wait until dinner time for the next meal.
E – nhancing couple relationship
Just as parents need dates with each of their children, so do spouses. Set a date with your spouse at least once a week, without the kids around. By building a stronger relationship with your partner, you not only become a role model to your child, but you also take care of each other’s emotional needs, which will come in handy as you raise a family.
F – inancial planning
Finally, we come to F which is planning for your family’s finances. Responsible parenting involves practicality. If you wish to support the dreams of your child, then you must be prepared to do so. Financial preparation is a vital component in raising caring, confident and capable children. For example, you may think that your child is only 2 years old today, there’s no rush to prepare for his college education. Wrong! With the rising cost of tuition fees between 5-15% each year, what college tuition costs today will most likely be 4x as much when he turns 18! (Based on a flat tuition fee increase projection of 8% annually from 2016 to 2034)
Maribel suggests a Family Life Plan, where you write down the age of the daddy and mommy, plus the ages of all children today followed by the plans or milestones to be achieved in a particular year and how much it will cost to achieve them. Do this from today (2016) until you exhaust all milestones you want to reach in your life. You will see that it takes money to do all these!
Parenting is never easy but I hope these tips have come in handy to help you want to learn more about how you can be a better ‘tatay’ or ‘nanay’ or even guardian to the children who look up to us.
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