Decisions for the future – By Vicky Downing
I came across an inspirational piece of writing on Facebook recently. It spoke about being kind to our future selves. The piece explained that, in order to do this, we need to make the decisions today which will lead to benefits in the future, things for which our future selves will be grateful. With the New Year in full swing and with Valentine’s Day upon us, perhaps it is time to consider how, as parents and adults, we can be kind to our future selves in the way we live and raise our children.
Consider a child who receives everything he desires and does not experience consequences for poor behaviour. What sort of teenager and later, adult, do you think he will become? One who becomes frustrated when “life is unfair” because he doesn’t get what he wants? Do you think he will be a success in life after always receiving his heart’s desires? What will happen to him if he misses a deadline or fails an examination in tertiary study? Has he the right to blame it on another if it was his own fault?
On the other hand, consider a child who has learned that life is not always fair as he has not always received his greatest desires. May be he has had to earn his privileges through hard work and good behaviour. May be he has had to help his parents with suitable chores around the house or look after a family pet. What sort of adult do you think he will be?
Parenting is not an easy job. It is the only job in which, if you are successful, you do yourself out of a job. If you are successful, your child will be an independent and confident young person. He only has need for you because of the emotional bond you share and not for any other reason. Of course, there are circumstances which may make this desirable situation unreachable. However, as parents, it is our responsibility to work towards the goal of independent and confident young people anyway. The odds are stacked in our favour.
So, how do we do this in the present? It starts with small actions, such as giving our children age-appropriate chores, letting them experience the consequences of their actions (whether it be by withdrawal of privileges for poor behaviour or other suitable methods), getting them into a routine with homework and daily activities, and so on. It also involves being present and positively involved in your child’s life by taking an interest in what they are doing and who they are as people.
With schools open for a few weeks already, it may be useful to evaluate your child’s routine at home. A good routine allows flexibility but still provides structure. This type of routine focuses on the order of events and not necessarily the times of events. It would not be a disaster if children bath 15 minutes later than usual as long as they bath before the next activity in the routine. This type of routine allows for unplanned events which can upset the usual flow of things in the home. The routine should also make adequate time available for homework and studying after school. One idea which many parents find suitable is to allow children a short amount of time (about 15 minutes) for the child to relax and eat a snack before starting their homework. Many parents also find it easier if children first do their homework before relaxing, watching television or playing games. If your child is in a good routine, he may manage his time better during stressful times, such as when studying for examinations. By making these decisions regarding the way we relate to and raise our children, we are working towards helping our children and ourselves in future as they are able to cope with the demands that will be placed upon them and, hopefully, be the successful young people we wish them to be.
As adults, making decisions which our future selves will appreciate include watching our health in the present, updating our skills and perhaps even studying further if that would benefit us in future. It also includes making time for special people in our lives and for ourselves. It could mean breaking destructive habits and ensuring they have no place in our futures. It could also mean ending dysfunctional relationships and stopping the cycle of hurt and pain. In the month of love, perhaps this is one idea we may consider as we show our appreciation for ourselves as people.
The best time to start is the present. As the Nike slogan advises: “Just Do It!” Your future self will thank you for it.
Article written by
M.Ed (UNISA), B.A.Hons (RAU), HDE (UNISA)
HPCSA Reg: PS 0124109
I have over 13 years’ experience working with children of all ages. As a mother of 2, I understand the pressures that children and parents face. I believe that all people have potential; sometimes they just need some assistance in realising this.
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Posted on February 5, 2015, in Featured Writer, Inspiration, Parenting and tagged children, educational psychologist, elizabeth gilbert, future, healing hands therapy centre, kindness, parenting, vicky downing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.