The title says it all but I hope you will continue reading.
The work of parenting I have found is first and foremost an internal work.
On Monday, I sat on a panel about protecting our children. I represented the parental angle on how this work must be done, while the other two panelists spoke of how social services and the police departments are doing their part.
I wanted to share these ideas not only in hopes it will help someone but to remind myself of what I said and what I believe.
Parenting my children requires me to be disciplined. When we think of discipline and children, the first thought is about using a belt or for some people a pot spoon or whatever their hands find. I have heard stories and I have a few of my own from childhood. But that isn’t the discipline I am referring to. My children mirror me in both the good and the bad. They will not be young forever and so the work is to ensure that as I grow and be more disciplined in my habits and action that they will want to do the same. When they are out on their own, I want them to have the tools to make the decision which will keep them safe and on the right path.
What I mean by that is this. Before I even had children I knew I wanted a life where they would be around me. I grew up with my dad physically being in the home when I left for school in the morning and when he returned. He was a full time minister, and he was always reading and preparing to teach bible study or for the Sunday sermon. I didn’t realize how much of a wonderful thing that was until now. I always saw my life with my children not far away from me. It really is one of the reasons I love owning my business. I can set my hours. I can be there. I can see them. I work to create a life where as much as possible, I can be physically there for them. It isn’t always possible but it remains the central focus of how I make decisions about where to live and how to work.
Your child becomes what you eat and think while they are still in your womb. These four children enjoy the things I loved when I was pregnant with each of them to this day. They also reflect very clearly the moods and mental state I was in as they grew inside me. Not all of these moods were good ones. Imagine if you could create a powerful and loving human being by the very thoughts you think when they are inside you. This is more than playing classical music and speaking to your tummy. Who you are, is who they will become.
If your life is filled with a constant pursuit of keeping up with the Joneses and wanting to portray that you can afford to give your child every lavish opportunity, guess what you will have? Marketers and companies often target singles mothers and people in low income for high end purchases. They are counting on your desire to be seen as someone who lacks nothing and as a good provider to your children. Coupled with the ability of children to plead and push, you find yourself giving in spending more money on stuff than we can afford. Check the ingredients on the shelf of the products at eye level and the package below with just a plain wrapping and text. They are the same. You are paying for the fancy font and recognized brand. They are counting on you to do that.
I’m not saying don’t aspire for more. However, don’t allow your children to believe that they need to have things to be valuable or to prove to others that they are as good as. They are all of those things simply because they exist. When they can see the work you put in and that your value is not built on outward trappings but your humanity, integrity and kindness, you will strengthen them to see that they can walk away from a gift with conditions attached.
It is sad to think that there are parents essentially pimping out their children to get things. They deserve much more than that. Show them the power of waiting and achieving their goals without compromise.
I can go on about this but I won’t for now. Protecting our children means being there for them. Even if you work two and three jobs, your child remembers the moments when you both connected. It could be on the ride to school on a bus or your car. The five minutes you spent listening to their opinion on their favorite vlogger or a problem at school. It may not be how you imagine spending your last minutes before crashing into bed, but they will remember and honor you for it.
In all honesty, I am work in progress. My crew is old enough now to call me on my inconsistencies and yes my lack of discipline in some things. However, it is worthwhile work to continue pursuing. There is a lesson in that as well. They say their mother fail and pick herself up and try again.
Discipline is more than using the belt. It really begins with honoring your own word and value.
Much love and blessings to you and those you love.
Nerissa is a media strategist and communications expert, who teaches her clients how to leverage traditional and digital media to increase their visibility and make more money. She is a certified Business Continuity Specialist and the author of seven books, including the Making of a Caribbeanpreneur: Strategies for Overcoming Fear and Building Wealth. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.