What is a good parent

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Nathaniel chats with his mother during an early morning walk at the park.

Children are great imitators. They imitate much of what is feeding up their senses. Parents should be more aware of the fact about the important role they have to play before their kids. They are their prime models; something by which they can mirror everything upon.

Of course, there’s no such thing as perfect parents just as there are no perfect children as well. But there are lots of good parents out there making a difference from the way they have raised their kids, cared and spent time with them. But what, in fact, is a good parent? A good parent:

  • Can be seen smiling even when he’s dog-tired or missing a good night’s sleep.
  • Laughs at simple jokes or even cracks a joke himself.
  • Softens discipline with kindness.
  • Shows love in actions and in words.
  • Celebrates special moments and makes small things count.
  • Acknowledges the flaws about his children and still love them anyway.
  • Accepts the fact that he can’t always fit all of his children into the mold he wanted each of them to be.
  • Is there when his children need him the most, and to distance himself when they need to have some space.
  • Shows interests in his children’s works and encourage them to do well.
  • Is patient and kind.
  • Understands fully about his role as a parent.
  • Motivates his children in a positive way.
  • Introduces his belief to his children but respects their freedom of choice as well.
  • Could sometimes mean a B M U: Big, Mean, and Ugly.

As long as parents show their love in actions and in words as a way of caring for their children, children can only benefit a lot positively. They will, for sure, be able to radiate the same love and care they have acquired and seen from their parents. Their self-esteem will get a boost as a result of that as well. I think that is what will make a good parent.

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Three important approaches I’ve learned from experience on how to discipline a child with dignity

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Nathaniel, sometimes, loves to be alone.

Discipline doesn’t always mean punishment and humiliation as what most people perceived it to be. It could be in many forms. What’s important is that, in getting your child to behave the way you wanted him or her to, you’re not losing his or her dignity in the process.

But is it really possible to discipline a child without hitting him or her? Is it really necessary to spank your kids? Knowing how to discipline a child is never easy.

As a parent, it is important to consider the fact that you can’t solve every problem concerning your kids but there are certain ways worth dealing with for that matter. The following are just some of the few important approaches I’ve learned from experience on how to discipline a child with dignity:

MAKE A PLAN ON HOW YOUR CHILD CAN IMPROVE THAT YOU CAN BOTH WORK WITH

At three years old, I think Nathaniel’s never too young to be applied with this kind of approach though. Sure, he’s still struggling how to write his name or the alphabet but he can scribble something on a piece of paper.

It’s as simple as this: each time he knew he has done something wrong I want him to write it down on a piece of paper. After having scribbled something, I will be expected to react by saying, “See, they’re ugly”.

I would then encourage him to do better next time so that he can avoid the ugliness of his work. I would be waiting for his nod and after we have made a deal I will let him write again on a separate sheet of paper. He can write what he likes to write on a piece of paper and that’s fine with me then I would react by saying “Wow, beautiful”.

I would then ask for the pen and draw a figure myself out of the irregular lines and curves he was scribbling which I know he will like. Of course, he likes the fish, angel, butterfly, and so on and so forth.

Why I’m doing this is simple. I want to bring out the confidence in him while, at the same time, expecting him to be responsible for his own behavior. Good behavior deserves to be praised while negative ones have to be avoided.

MAKE THE RULES EASY FOR THEM TO UNDERSTAND

Making the rules clear and simple is a challenge every parent must overcome. Some parents are writing these rules down on a card board and post it in the bulletin board for everyone in the family to see.

These are common in schools, too, in public offices and places, and in the streets. Some of these rules include: no stealing, no throwing of objects, observe silence, no defying authority, no jay walking, no hitting, no abusive language, and so on and so forth. You can also do it verbally but make sure your child understands what you mean.

SETTING A FAIR LIMIT FOR MISBEHAVIOR

While it’s a fact that every child misbehaves, it is important for a parent to know when to step in and do something to correct the misbehavior. This will only be after a child has been warned out but still continue doing the undesirable. Nathaniel, like most children his age, has a short attention span and often forgets.

And while it’s important to praise a child for behaving well, I am making sure each time that he sees the consequences, for misbehaving, that are not pleasant to him. I have to communicate with him instead of giving him a sermon. I know that by discussing about his behavior instead of preaching at him will have to gain better results.

So these are the three important approaches I’ve learned from experience on how to discipline a child with dignity. I hope this article was able to help in some way. I will be writing more on this topic so keep following this site for my future posts.

How to help your child cope with stress

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Nathaniel in one of his lighter moments.

Considerable amount of stress could be good. However, too much of it is detrimental to health as well as to the general well being of a person. Stress is a part of daily life whether you like it or not.

But only when it reaches the point of something that is beyond your control already so as to interfere with your normal activity that it should be considered bad or alarming. The impact of stress upon children is crucial to their learning as they are still in the developmental stage. Here’s how to help your child cope with stress:

TAKE HIM OR HER WITH YOU FOR A WALK

One of the best methods I found to be most helpful against stress is brisk walking. So every time Nathaniel starts to feel pressured, angry, and bored, I will take him with me for a walk. I noticed that each time we’re doing it together, his mood did not only improve but he’s obviously enjoying it as well.

I would be feeling good, too, as this form of exercise is helping my body reduce the effects of stress in a natural way. You can try other forms of physical activity, too, as long as they’re safe for your child and yourself.

ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO EXPRESS IT OUT

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Infectious. It doesn’t even have to matter what he’s laughing about.

Talk to your child and encourage him or her to talk it out with you, too. Encourage him or her to speak up before you what is bothering him or her or you might want them to write it all down about what they feel. Expressing it all out is like clearing out your inner self of emotional mess.

INTRODUCE YOUR OWN BRAND OF SENSE OF HUMOR

Try your best joking it out to him or her. You don’t need to be an expert humorist to be able to do that, but as long as you’re doing it for your child in your own best way possible then that’s it. The point is not about you doing a Charlie Chaplin or Mr. Bean before your children, but to divert their attention to something that can improve their moods.

TEACH YOUR CHILD THE BREATHING EXERCISE

Breathing exercise is not only relaxing but it is one effective way to control one’s self. Controlled breathing, when done in a proper way, can improve one’s mood. Teach your child the proper breathing exercise and you’re teaching him or her how to control his or her own self. These are simple activities that can help your child a lot to cope with stress.

Fatherhood is the vehicle that protects and empowers women

Nathaniel at a little less than two weeks old.

Just like what fatherhood is to a man, motherhood as well is the woman’s most important calling. When God created the first human beings in the persons of Adam and Eve, He gave each one of them an equal personal dignity along with inalienable rights and responsibilities proper to the human person. Women are not second-class citizens as what some social and other cultural traditions would have them considered.

But they exist because they have a very important role to play for the future of the human race and the world. Fatherhood should be the vehicle to protect and empowers this role played by a woman.

When my wife was still pregnant with our firstborn Nathaniel, I have come to fully understand how much she has totally sacrificed during this prenatal period. It is something that no man can do or perform. A woman’s body is especially designed to house a life and every little thing that must be linked for the survival of this little life inside her womb is directly through her. In that sense, she’s special.

Nathaniel’s birth served as the fulfillment of our union as husband and wife in his person. He was the greatest gift we can give each other. His presence transformed us. It is all about a calling to a new level of self-sacrifice as we became father and mother now from what was just a husband and wife.

All women are called to embrace motherhood. It is a woman’s most important calling. It has to start in a relationship between man and wife. It is about living the life of sacrifice. It has to be chosen.

A woman should choose motherhood. And through this miracle of conceiving a child or housing a life inside her womb that she’s able to transfer to her child all her bodily resources. This new life God has given her develops a sense of value and infinite worth as well as a sense of personal identity.

Once a woman learns to accept the gift of the child, it makes all the difference for whatever else she will be doing in her life. This affirmation of the child is a special mark of the woman’s personality. A father figure should be there to support and to make the picture complete. Fatherhood is the vehicle that protects and empowers a woman.

Five extremes every parent should avoid

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Nathaniel and I just minutes before boarding a ship bound for Cebu.

When I started writing this article, I have in mind about the issues every parent has to deal with on a daily basis raising a child and that there is no method that will guarantee you will be the best parent. Some parents resort to extremism, in their desperate attempt to only make the best for their child, without themselves knowing it.

It has only been just a little over three years ago when I first became a father to a son, but all I know as what the experience has taught me about parenthood as something you will have to patiently deal with, sacrifice a lot, and grow up for. As a parent, you have to make sure you don’t fall in the category to any of these five extremes:

PARENTS WHO ARE PERMISSIVE

When a parent starts bending to the wishes of his or her child and the child shows he or she is in control of everything, then discipline becomes a major issue to deal with for that matter. Here, the child behaves the way he likes and never learning to control his own behavior. This state of a parent’s losing control to his or her child’s behavior, in the long run, will leave him or her feeling embarrassed.

I sometimes fall in this category. But I’m working towards making it right for me and my three-year-old son. Nathaniel has, sometimes, caused my nerves to fray. And there are times when I have chosen to stay at home rather than hassle him in public.

What I have learned from this experience, though, was that it is wrong to assume that you are helping your child by letting him do as he pleases. It is a parent’s duty to possess the strength of character for the moral decisions that should be made on a daily basis. I was happy to see the changes and improvement in Nathaniel’s behavior after working out on it.

THE AUTHORITATIVE ONES

This is where most parents fail to see about the role of parenthood: to assume that it is their duty to exercise full control, dictate, and command their children. The parents who fall under this category are imposing strict rules to totally dominate their children. But applying too much pressure on your child will have negative implications, too.

Studies have shown that children under authoritarian rule of parents found it difficult to learn to make decisions on their own. It was also found out that severe discipline among children will result to their being disobedient, quarrelsome, rebellious, troublemakers at school, and nervous and quick-tempered.

PARENTS WHO ARE POSSESSIVE

When you, as a parent, failed to allow your kids to take reasonable risks or to do the things by themselves, then you’re depriving your children their rights to natural way of growing up and development. Parents who fall under this category, more often than not, think that they’re doing such things out of their love and concern for their children. They failed to recognize the fact that by doing the things to keep their children as close to them as possible, they’re making them totally dependent on them in the process as well.

One of the parents’ obligations is to train their children to face life strongly and courageously. Possessiveness could be a sign of weakness, and it often springs from fear of rejection. A possessive parent may feel unreasonably guilty for the rejection he or she feels towards his or her child.

PARENTS WHO ARE INDIFFERENT

The opposite of love isn’t hate but indifference. Indifferent parents just don’t care everything for and about their children. But it involves, for the most part, total neglect of a child, cruelty and abandonment.

Children need emotional satisfaction, aside from the nourishment they’re going to receive from foods, to survive. When children suffer emotional starvation, they will die a slow death which is just as dangerous and effective as when they’re suffering from physical starvation.

PARENTS WHO ARE OPPOSITE EXTREMES

Parents who fall under this category differ in their approach, methods, temperament, styles, and response in disciplining their children. However, these differences could be easily dealt with by simply working together as a team. It is advisable not to allow your children seeing both of you disagreeing over how they should be handled.

And when it comes to raising children or to discipline them, it must be done or executed in the atmosphere of love. But even with love and punishment, balance is necessary. I hope this article on the five extremes every parent should avoid was able to help in anyway.

How a hammock really has changed my perception of the world

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Nathaniel drinks his milk comfortably in a hammock.

Nathaniel has never tried to lay on a hammock until he was three years old while we were on a long vacation in my hometown where the air was cool and fresh and lovely during sunny days. My father might have thought it would be a nice idea to hang a hammock located just a few steps from our old house in the province under the shades of kakawate trees, and a nearby kaimito, just so he could spend more comfortably of his siesta hours.

I’ve been in a hammock several times already, but seeing my own son in it now really has changed my perception of the world. The reason why I didn’t introduce hammock riding during his first three years of life was that I’m afraid he might fall down to either side or that he would suffocate when pulled to a particular position. But little did I know Nathaniel likes it so much in a hammock.

I could see he really feels at ease or relaxed with my every swinging of it like a pendulum clock on the wall. Nathaniel, who was lying comfortably in a hammock one afternoon, shifts his gaze towards the rustle of the kakawate trees as if to show he was sensing the difference between naturally produced sounds and motorcycles passing by.And just when he’s done drinking his milk on a plastic bottle, he dozed off. Life is better, I would like to believe, in a hammock; it was a combination of a lot of comforting things in one package.

Although I have learned from what other people are saying about it: that it is all about just turning the safety net to lull able-bodied people into complacency and dependence. I saw something else about it this time around.The ordinary hammock could become a simple starting place for your wanting of a more love in your life, relaxation, intimacy, and oneness with nature.

It’s about the appreciation for having experienced the peaceful, simple, but beautiful life. A multi-colored threaded hammock my son laid upon on that spur of the moment, in that swinging of a pendulum like movement, along with a burst of cool fresh air, started to beat in rhythm inside my heart.

I have felt such a great need to sway and to snuggle to the rhythm of love for my son, and for as long as I can. This hammock thing really has, for one thing, changed my perception of the world for the better.

Six simple ways every father can do to build a peaceful and happy home

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In the children’s play area inside a mall. Nathaniel was a little less than two years old in this picture.

To have a peaceful and happy home life is every family man’s dream. A wise father knows that it is not about the absence of problems, conflicts, and challenges. It is not about walking away from your responsibility to the children you were generating.

Rather, it is about facing each one of them, one problem at a time. You have got to be proactive, find solutions to a problem, learn from every mistake, and to try your best to promote love and create peace in the home. That has been my dream, too. But I know it will take time to achieve that and there’s a lot of work to do in the process.

Fatherhood has taught me many things from day one and I know there’s still a lot more to learn from it along the way. I’m blessed to have a good looking son in Nathaniel, but this role of fatherhood I will consider as a gift that comes with responsibility. Anyways, here are six ways I’m learning from personal experience on what every father can do to build a peaceful and happy home:

START IT WITH YOURSELF

It should start from you. You should be the person you are happy, contented, and peaceful to be with. You are responsible for everything you would like to see. So that when you’re feeling down, defeated, or lacking sense of hope within, you’re projecting the same thing to the world and back to you.

YOU SHOULD BE FLEXIBLE

If you can combine the toughness of the drill sergeant and the tenderness of a nurse in your own person, then that’s it. Once you’re through with it, it will be easy for you then to combine the strengths of these two characters while making every mistake a learning experience.You have to possess the toughness of a master while, at the same time, you’re also capable of showing the loving affection of a father to your children.

PROMOTE A DEEPER SENSE OF EQUALITY

This does not always mean that each member of the family will be getting the same thing or have a uniform treatment. But it could as well mean that every family member will be treated according to his or her particular needs.

TAKE TIME TO LISTEN

By taking time to listen to other people’s needs, you’re opening the door that leads you to a higher form of understanding. This sensitivity towards the needs of others is the foundation of a peaceful community which, of course, begins in the family.

LEARN TO FORGIVE, AND FORGET

A peaceful and happy home is not like a work of magic. It’s not like a mushroom that grows in full swing overnight. There are always problems to solve, conflicts to iron out, and relationships to repair.

You have got to be realistic in your approach but as well an optimistic one. A wise father learns to accept these facts about family life. You should know that you have a responsibility to wade in, problems to solve, and a real forgiveness to offer to those who have done you wrong.

MAKE YOUR FAMILY A COMMUNITY OF PRAYER

It has been said that a family that prays together, stays together. You should, therefore, make your own family a community of prayer. In praying, though, you have to make it as natural as it can be. If you can make it short but sincere, is better. Remember, God already know what your needs are before you can even start praying it all to Him.

The importance of teaching your children how to decide on their own

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Nathaniel eats his favorite ice cream.

When it comes to teaching the children how to decide on their own, nothing is better than the parents themselves are the ones doing it for them. From simple acts of picking up a toy, changing TV channels, to more challenging, complicated tasks, a child will be tested how he or she was gaining facility using his or her will. The ability of a child to choose wisely on a given situation is indicative of how he was able to learn effective decision-making skills.

But what is the best age to start teaching your children how to decide on their own? I think it depends on your children as each child has different developmental needs in response to a stimulus. In Nathaniel’s case, I was able to introduce it to him just a few weeks right after his second birthday.

It was when we were on a grocery store and I let him decide which one to choose from two of his favorites: chocolates, or ice cream? He picked up the ice cream over chocolates. But, guess what? He asked for the chocolates when he was done eating the ice cream. The following are what I can suggest on how to teach your children how to choose wisely:

HELP YOUR CHILDREN TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

You have to do it gradually by simply starting with the simple things. Once you’re through with simple things, you have to start showing them how to engage their wills in a strong and meaningful ways. You have to make them understand that they have the power within them to choose what is right from a wrong or what is best from what’s not. Once these things are practiced, then you’re helping them build their decision-making skills.

ENCOURAGE THEM TO FREELY EXPRESS THEIR THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS OR REASON OUT FOR THEIR CHOICES

It is important to show interest in what your children are saying. Let them explain before you why they have chosen a particular thing over another; allow them to voice out their minds on a particular issue as this will help them to think better that will lead to good decision making.

INVOLVE YOUR CHILDREN IN FAMILY DECISIONS

Whether you’re planning to go to a picnic or change the setting of your living room, when you involve your children in it, they will learn how to make decisions that will not only take others into account but as well asking them to share their own views and ideas for that matter. When you let them participate in family affairs that require them to decide, you’re giving them the opportunity to engage in things that may, in one way or another, affect them and that which lead to their learning of new things while, at the same time, developing a closer connection to the family.

Here’s why the physical form of punishment to discipline a child is not the best option

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Nathaniel’s first carousel ride. He was two years and eight months old in this picture.

Nathaniel was one hyperactive toddler. He spends a lot of energy moving, giggling, screaming, playing, slapping, and doing what he likes. He scatters toys I had just arranged for him and throws things at the window.

He dribbles a ball and breaks glasses by throwing that ball everywhere. While this behavior is normal for a toddler, not all people will come to view it as such. I had to admit I had spanked my own son at the buttocks a couple of times already and that’s when I’m losing my patience or temper.

There was even a time when he stayed away from me for a while because he was afraid I would hit him again. That’s when I realized I had gone too far or I may have been doing it wrong for him. Anyways, here’s why the physical form of punishment to discipline a child is not the best option:

YOUR CHILD IS NOT A BEAST

You may disagree with me and I’m fine with it, but I strongly feel that the physical form of punishment will work out better on the lower form of animals which only have instincts to rely on. Human beings are special, a cut above the rest. Human beings are the only species in the animal kingdom who are capable of rational thinking.

The application of physical form of punishment to tame down unwanted human behavior may work out at times, but only temporary. The psychological impact resulting from physical abuse endured by these children could left a permanent scar in their beings which they will carry throughout their lifetime whether they are successful in their chosen field or not.

IT WILL NOT MAKE YOUR CHILD A BETTER PERSON

There was an old adage people are buying to sugarcoat or even promote the application of physical form of punishment in humans and especially the little ones. “When the body suffers,” the adage says, “the spirit flowers.” While this may ring true to some people, it’s not always the best form of discipline there is.

A lot of people who are product of parents known to use physical form of punishment to discipline their children tend to continue the cycle into their own children. The psychological conditioning they have acquired through their battered childhood will continue to feed their minds with something that stimulate craving for more physical assault on their subjects.

The point is, in dealing with really difficult children, when the need to inflict a little pain upon them is high in order to teach them a lesson, make sure that they understand clearly why you are punishing them. But a heart-to-heart talk with your misbehaving child explaining to him why he should not be acting that way again and that you’re raising that issue about him because you love him is the best way to do it.

The use of physical form of punishment to discipline a child will not make him a better person. You can’t make him a better person by simply pressuring him or smacking him each time. But when you’re encouraging and dealing with him patiently, then you’re doing it right for him.

ISOLATION IS THE BEST FORM OF DISCIPLINE FOR YOUR GROWING CHILDREN

When your children do not behave the way you wanted them to or the way they should, it could only mean one thing: they don’t know how to act in a community. The family is your children’s first community. You have to isolate who is that family member of yours who doesn’t know how to act accordingly and to talk to him about it.

So whenever one of your children behaved badly, keep your cool. Isolate him or her, or you could ask someone else close to him or her to cheer him or her up to divert his or her attention. It is recommended that you have to talk it out to him or her.

I hope this article was able to shed some light on why the physical form of punishment to discipline a child is not the best option. Simple as that, yet may be hard to the majority of people.

Reflecting on Saint Joseph’s model of fatherhood

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One of our family pictures. Nathaniel was two years and four months old when this picture was taken.

Saint Joseph, the spouse of Mary, should be looked upon by all Roman Catholics or even non-Catholics alike, as the best example of a human father at its finest. Although he was not the natural father of Jesus, his marriage to Mary became the juridical basis for his brand of fatherhood the world would come to know. This union became increasingly important as the love of husband and wife will find its most complete expression in the conception of their child.

He willingly accepts the challenge while remaining as faithful a husband as he can be to his wife. Of course, it will not be an easy task for him. There are lots of storms he will have to weather on a daily basis. The following are some of the many best qualities Saint Joseph possessed making him a model for fathers:

  • He was a model of humble practice of obedience.
  • He was best in his silences and even better through the hidden life of hard work he was leading.
  • He was able to rediscover the value of simplicity, obedience, trust, and respect.
  • He was a good spouse.
  • He was a loving father.
  • He knows how to rule the family and to serve it.
  • He was a man of faith.
  • He was a gentle, loving man.
  • He was a protector of the family many considered as the original cell of social life.
  • He was the first guardian when the family’s safety is in great jeopardy.
  • He was a good follower.
  • He obeyed what God wanted him to do without complaining.

A lot more could be said about the good qualities Saint Joseph possessed worthy of praise and emulation. His examples of fatherhood were for the dads of all ages, and for all time to come, to ponder about. It has to shed some light on the role of a father with all its joys and responsibilities where the murky waters of a society that helped promote the collapse of a family were.