What Children Need From Parents
THE success of a child’s education should not be measured simply by the grades he receives. Of greater importance are the values he develops, his moral standards, his behavior, and his thinking. But who bear the principal responsibility for the child’s development in these fields?
“The parents do,” answers one longtime school counselor. “The primary objective of formal education is to support parents in producing responsible young adults who are well-developed intellectually, physically, and emotionally.”
Such school counselors have frequently learned what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to producing well-adjusted young adults. Roddy Cameron, another such counselor, has dealt with hundreds of cases over the years. He was asked by Awake!: “What do children really need most to succeed?”
After pondering for a moment, he replied: “You show me a troubled kid, and the chances are extremely high that I can show you troubled parents.” In reviewing his experiences in talking with such parents, he noted: “When trying to explain to me why they work so hard and have to be away from home so much, they almost always say they want to give their kids what they themselves didn’t have.”
Yet, are the material advantages that so many parents lacked when they were young what children really need? Are expensive cars, fine clothes, and exotic vacations important to becoming successful, well-adjusted students? “What’s wrong with a hug, a kiss, love, attention?” asked Cameron rhetorically. “These cost nothing, but they are things that kids need most.”
Time, Love, and Concern
Tender loving care is the basic need of children. And the most effective way parents can provide it is by unselfishly giving of themselves, giving of their time, and not being ashamed to show genuine, uninhibited love and deep concern. One writer noted that the best gift one person can give another is “being there.”
In its brochure Plain Talk About Raising Children, the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health reported the results of a survey of successful parents. They were identified as those whose children, over age 21, “were all productive adults who were apparently adjusting well to our society.” The parents of these well-adjusted young adults were asked: ‘Based on your personal experience, what is the best advice you could give to other parents?’ The most frequent responses were: ‘Love abundantly,’ ‘discipline constructively,’ ‘spend time together,’ ‘teach your children right from wrong,’ ‘develop mutual respect,’ ‘really listen to them,’ ‘offer guidance rather than a speech,’ and ‘be realistic.’
Does that sound prosaic, old-fashioned? Yet, parents might well ask themselves: ‘If something works well, why abandon it for something different, something that doesn’t work?’ Yes, time, love, and concern make up the glue that holds families together. It is the parents’ homework to provide these basic needs for their children. Fulfilling their assignment will help their children to become successful students and then successful adults. There are no shortcuts, no substitutes, such as providing material things, thinking that they will make the difference.
Comparable to Plants
In many respects, children grow and develop like plants. The successful farmer knows what it takes to reap a good crop—fertile, cultivated soil; warm sunshine; water; weeding; and protective care. Often there are difficult times and heartaches along the way, right up to the harvest. But how proud successful farmers are when they see their hard-earned rewards!
Surely, a human life is more valuable than a farmer’s harvest! Should it, therefore, be expected that the desired result could be obtained with less effort? Not according to the parents surveyed by the National Institute of Mental Health, nor according to the scores of parents and students interviewed by Awake! over the past two years.
The successful parent knows that raising a child takes commitment. The home environment must be right, with plenty of warmth and understanding. Gently and persistently, parents need to cultivate in their children an appreciation for learning and living. Patiently they need to adjust, watch, and helpfully share the difficult times and heartaches that mar every life’s path. If parents do these things, the chances are very good that the harvest will be a successful young adult.
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‘Show me a troubled kid, and the chances are that I can show you troubled parents’
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Time, love, and concern make up the glue that holds families together