The not so seriously taken Ten Commandments of parenting

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My son Nathaniel was only six months old in this picture.

It has been said that a passion for parenting is an indispensable complement to informed and smart family leadership. As a dedicated parent, I’m sure you may have already been engaged passionately with your own brand of child rearing just so you could see your son or daughter reach his or her potential as a social being by learning from your own experience and from what the experts in the field may have to say or suggest. Yes, families are dynamic systems that may differ in one way or another and in a lot of ways, but there are core commitments that should define how effective the family has become.

When your son, for example, reaches boyhood, one of the most important of things to consider is that you, as a parent, are ensuring how socially and emotionally healthy man he has become. In other words, you’ve got to transform the course of your son’s boyhood in the most productive and positive way possible.

But the big question mark is “How?” Well, there’s no surefire formula towards achieving it but whatever you had which you think is best could be all worth a try. The following are the not so seriously taken Ten Commandments of parenting which could help parents to help their son or daughter build the expressive and social skills that would make him or her become a happy and successful adult:

YOU’VE GOT TO BE SHOWING EMPATHY

Showing empathy before your children is very important. Empathic parenting is for the parents to see each child as the unique individual that he or she is. Recognizing the individuality of your son or daughter is one way to provide an acknowledgement that he or she hungers for.

Empathizing could also mean standing in the best possible position to respond to your child’s emotional needs. It is also about showing respect that the way your son or daughter expresses himself or herself is telling you something important about who he or she is. Empathy should be something that secures parenting decisions for that matter.

YOU’VE GOT TO BE MAKING TIME

Sure, life will have to change when you have children. It will never be the same again as your sense of time, too, will have to change with it. But yet without time all of your intentions will come too little.

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One way you could be demonstrating other people’s importance in your life is through making or spending time with them. When you are giving time to your son or daughter it’s equivalent as saying he or she is important to you and that he or she is your priority. Some parents are, sometimes, falling into the mistake of trying to fill their children up with tangible gifts, special experiences, and privileges, when, in fact, none of these things could replace the need for their time.

Making time with your son or daughter could also mean attending to him or her and to try to carefully notice what he or she thinks and says. In that way, you could respond to him or her in a way that will make him or her feel understood and important. When you make time, you’re more than simply doing something with anyone you consider special or important.

YOU’VE GOT TO BE WILLING TO TAKE ACTIONS

This is what parents should take into consideration when it comes to taking actions concerning their kids: that, in most cases, anticipatory action is more useful than reaction. A parent should be one that is proactive instead of being just reactive. When a parent is more than willing to do what is necessary just so he could raise his children well, is one of the key commitments he should be making being a parent.

However, the hardest part of taking action is in the acceptance of the fact that a particular intervention is needed or required. Timing is also another important thing to consider. The parents must know when to act, at least most of the time. You have got to get involved, as a parent, when your son or daughter is unable to resolve the problem by himself or herself and when the situation is already hurting him or her.

YOU HAVE GOT TO STAY POSITIVE

Having a positive outlook, as a parent, is something your children could learn a lot from and benefit from simultaneously. But how could you get positive in troubled times? When the going gets tough and things don’t just turned out right for you?

Well, getting positive is all about having to remain optimistic in the face of difficulties or resistance to change. Every child, just like the rest of Homo sapiens, cannot accomplish all things, but yet is one that is so capable of improvement. You don’t have to compel someone to achieve amazing results through the sheer force of your will just so it could be termed as “positive.”

As a parent, to stay positive is to maintain a problem-solving perspective of whatever challenges your child is facing. You have to feed your child with words of encouragement and not to let your own emotional ups and downs become a defining element in the way you interact with your children. You have to put in mind that your son or daughter is watching your reactions to their efforts carefully.

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YOU’VE GOT TO BE INFORMED

While ultimately you, as a parent, have to accept the responsibility for making decisions in your kid’s best interest, effective parenthood is when one has to consider different ideas and perspectives. This could be learned and accomplished much by embracing the plurality of perspectives available. Parents should be seeking useful information from both formal and informal sources.

YOU’VE GOT TO TEACH

As a parent, you don’t only have to provide for your child’s basic needs which include food, clothing, shelter, emotional necessities and many more. You had to be, most specially, a teacher. This was so because you’re going to be imparting not only “what” but as well the “why.” The moment you explain not only what you want your children to do but why is to build their social and self-awareness.

YOU’VE GOT TO BE A MODEL

Someone once said that the best way to teach is by example. It has been found out that a parent who is polite, considerate, expressive, and sincere would most likely teach his children to speak in the same way or manner. Mistakes are unavoidable and when you make mistakes before your children, don’t hesitate to apologize. What’s more interesting is that you could turn these mistakes into teaching opportunities.

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YOU HAVE GOT TO COLLABORATE

One of the key ingredients of families running smoothly and with a high degree of cooperation is through collaboration. With or without yourself knowing it, you are collaborating directly with your child when you involve him in clarifying your goals and expectations. Parents should be taking time to ask their children to help define those expectations until both of them arrive at a common destination.

YOU HAVE GOT TO PERSEVERE

Yes it is so true a phrase that not everything works the first time you try it. Perseverance is very important factor in parenting and it is very closely related to the commitment of time. So that, sometimes, when the going gets tough, it is more important to try longer than it is to try harder.

YOU HAVE GOT TO KNOW YOUR FAMILY’S CORE VALUES

Every family needs a compass, most particularly a moral compass to live by. Knowing what these core values are is very important as they interweave with all the other nine commandments of parenting. You have got to take a look at your family’s interests, strengths, and expressed values.

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Valentine’s Day, grilled pork, and a sense of humor

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Pulled pork jokes, they said, never get old.

When my three-year-old son woke us all up very early in the morning today because he wanted to pee, I immediately went on to open my laptop to check for updates. My wife was the one accompanying Nathaniel to the toilet. When I got to open my Facebook account, it greeted me a Happy Valentine’s Day on my timeline.

So today was Valentine’s Day, a day when most people became overly invested in just one day, not to mention the fact that it has become so commercialized. I don’t even remember about it until Facebook reminded me through the greeting. I’m not suggesting that celebrating Valentine’s Day is no longer important to me, but it’s just that I came to the realization of the fact that there are ample opportunities in any day of the three hundred sixty five days of the year we can show people how much we love them and truly care for them.

It was only after breakfast that my wife greeted me a Happy Valentine’s and a kiss on the cheek. “Wouldn’t you give me flowers, then?” she asked. “I’m not going to give you flowers from now on,” I said. “And what was the reason behind it?” she asked as she gave me a tiger look. “Because I came to realize you’re not a flower pot,” I told her.

We laughed together and when Nathaniel saw us laughing he joined in the laughter, too. It came to a point that I was so carried away by my laughing that I shed a tear. I started to feel a little pain in my stomach due to excessive laughing and the next thing I know was that I was catching my breath already.

Then I suddenly stopped. I wanted to tell her something serious, something important.

“But I had a garden I planted with plenty of flowers for you,” I told her.

“Where can I find that garden?” she asked

“Here inside my heart, the flowers never fade” I said pointing my left chest with an index finger.

“How sweet of you, thank you!” she said.

I went outside and tried to breathe some fresh air. It was a rainy Sunday morning but I can see a faint glow of incandescence painted upon the eastern skies. The sun must be in that particular spot, I thought, hiding behind such a thick cloud of gloom.

When it’s time to prepare what I had to cook for lunch, I had in mind about having a heavy meal but one which was easy to prepare. Grilled pork, I grilled pork (about a kilo and a half.)

Black grey smoke swirls upward as the hot charcoals burn the meat. “Why does the smoke always go up?” asked my wife. “Because of gravity,” I told her.

“But isn’t that gravity pulls objects down?” she tried to reason out.

“Yes, that’s why the smoke floats upward because it’s something that gravity can’t pull,” I explained.

“I’m confused,” said my wife.

“You shouldn’t,” I said. “There’s what they call in Physics a buoyant force, but why the smoke rise up depends on the existence of gravity.”

“Ah, was that really it?”

“I’m not even totally convinced but I had to believe it anyway,” I said.

“It’s a lot like love,” she said.

“Rising like an incense of an evening praying into the pure sky,” I said.

“The smoke, you mean?” she asked.

“Our love,” I said.

It’s okay to serve pink pork, I guess. But it doesn’t matter if I had overcooked it in the process.

 

Five important life lessons from a pencil

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The most important part of you is what’s inside you.

This morning, I noticed that my three-year-old son Nathaniel has kept himself busy doing something. He was sketching a pear-like shaped object on a piece of paper using a pencil. I asked him what was that particular object he was drawing about and he answered, “A glass.” Then he populated it with as-many-as-he-could draw short irregular lines and curves. I asked him again, “What are these lines for, son?” This time he took a very short pause, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “These are waters.”

Watching my son holding a pencil in his hand was a great sight to me. It reminds me of an article I came across with several years ago about the important life lessons people could learn from a humble pencil. Allow me then to share it here, in case you, who happened to read it before, had already forgotten and for those who will be reading it for the first time:

The pencil maker took the pencil aside, just before putting it into the box. “There are five things you need to know before I send you out into the world,” he said. “Always remember these five things, and you’ll be a great pencil.”

YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING MANY GREAT THINGS

Yes, you can do many great things but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand. This means you had to find someone who will handle you for what you’re purposed at. Without direction, purpose, and inspiration, a pencil will be just a piece of wood.

YOU WILL EXPERIENCE A PAINFUL SHARPENING FROM TIME TO TIME

Yes, you will need to undergo such a painful process so you’ll become a better pencil each time. Without it, you can be dull, ineffective, and unwanted. It will shape you to what you should be at your very best.

YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO CORRECT THE MISTAKES YOU MAKE

That’s why a pencil has an eraser. Life is not yet final. There’s always a way to make things better and to try improving one’s own. When you failed at one thing, try again. If you again failed at that, find out why and if there’s something you can do about it. Mistakes, disappointments, and failures are a part of life. If you can make a difference, do it. If you can correct a mistake, do it.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOU IS WHAT’S INSIDE YOU

When you’re beautiful within, then you’re truly a beautiful soul. But if you’re only beautiful from the outside, then people may still find out if you’re beautiful from the inside, too. How valuable your substance are, as a person, is more important than what you can offer superficially.

LEAVING A MARK

On every surface where you are used, regardless of its condition, you must leave your mark. Your good works and deeds will be immortalized by the people whose lives you were able to impact upon.

Eight proper tooth brushing techniques every parent must teach his child

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Nathaniel learns how to brush his own teeth.

Taking care for the normal and healthy growth of your child’s teeth begins even before he was born. In the prenatal stage, the expectant mom must be encouraged to eat nutritious foods (especially the foods that are rich sources of calcium) and takes time to expose herself in the early morning rays of the sun for vitamin D. Taking iron supplementation is also advisable to prevent anemia and for healthy bone marrows production which are deposited inside the bones.

Your baby’s teeth are important because these will help him to eat well, act as guide for the growth of his permanent teeth, stimulate his jaw to grow, and play a major role in his proper speech development especially the front teeth. Central incisor usually erupts during your baby’s sixth month; lateral incisor on his tenth month; cuspid during his eighteenth month; first molar on the fourteenth month while the second molar on the twenty fourth month.

But as the baby grows older, and rapidly from one phase of development to another, nourishing foods are not enough to help sustain or maintain the needs for the proper development of his teeth. This is why a parent should teach his child the proper tooth brushing techniques to prevent tooth decay and other dental problems.

  • You could start by brushing the outer part of the upper teeth from the gums downward. You should be doing this slowly as your child, having introduced to brushing his teeth for the first time, may find it an unpleasant act. Talk to him while brushing his teeth so he would not totally feel how the whole brushing thing goes.
  • After having done brushing the outer part of the upper teeth, you could now proceed to brushing the outer part of the lower teeth from the gums upward. Again, you should do this slowly and with gentle strokes.
  • Next is to brush the inner part of the upper teeth from the gums upward. While doing this, explain to him why it is important for a child to brush his teeth.
  • Now you could go on brushing the inner part of the lower teeth from the gums upward. Congratulate him when he’s done. Use the words “nice,” “very good,” or “yes, you made it,” to express your appreciation.
  • Using the short back-and-forth stroking “scrubbing” motion, brush the upper chewing surfaces of the teeth. After having done this, you could request him to smile for a moment flashing his teeth. Then tell him, “See, they look better than ever.”
  • You could now proceed to brushing the lower chewing surface of the teeth. Always remember to do it slowly, stroking gently, and give compliments in between.
  • Next is brushing the tongue. Yes, you have to include the tongue. It is part of the whole oral hygiene package. So make sure you are including it.
  • Finally, after having done brushing, use dental floss to clean in-between the teeth. Brushing alone is not enough as there are areas in the teeth the brush could not reach.

Fatherhood and the depressing needs of artistry

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My son’s birth was like an awakening to a new morning in my life.

With Nathaniel’s birth a little over three years ago, I thought that my poetry writing skills would be affected or diminished to some degree. I thought that becoming a dad would kill such a creative impulse needed for the craft I’m so in love with. I thought that I should give up writing and focus on spending most of my time raising a child.

But it never turned out the way I thought it would. Instead, I learned to discover things that could be used to even enrich the artist in me. My son’s birth was like, as it turned out, an awakening to a new morning in my life.

My son’s birth has become, for me, a discovery of such a new sense of sensibility as I welcomed him into the world with a profound sense of mystery and wonder. His birth has given me the beautiful experience, for the first time, of what it is like to love unconditionally and without reservation. His birth is why I came up with this blog, although I was only able to actually launch it a day after he turned three years old.

Becoming a poet and a dad at the same time is not easy. Poetry writing demands so much of you and there are times you would be misunderstood by people around you and all because you’re grappling with the depressing needs of artistry. Anyone could write a poem and become a poet in his own right. But a true poet by blood is someone who is a cut above the rest. You have got to be weird when it needs to, or become absurd for the sake of the needs of your craft.

Fatherhood, on the other hand, is like being a poet and a literary critic all at once. As a dad, I had to intuitively know that my child emerge from the universe as a natural part of it. I would come to understand it as patterns what I would be absorbing as verses as a poet.

I have learned that my works on my personal transformation, as often reflected in the lines of most of my deeper poems, could affect my child, who is all free to grow up to retain most of his innate personality. I have learned, too, that what I give to my child I give to myself. And like a true and honest literary critic who believes that poetry should not be judged but understood and felt, fatherhood has driven me to come up with the conclusion that there are, actually, no experts in parenting but only a child and parents who are works in progress.

The beauty of really living the life you want and having the marks to prove it

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To be beautiful is to heal from what hurts or destroys just so you could become a better version of you.

Is it possible to find joy in the midst of all the negative things happening in the world and in your life? When you try to look around, there are people carrying their own stories of pain, failures, hardships, sufferings, injuries, and the list could go on. In one way or another, you may have had went to some of these horrible things yourself.

But, again, is it possible to find joy in spite of all of these? Could you see beauty in the ugliness of things? Would you be able to see how beautiful you have become through the hurts and disappointments in your life?

The answer is a big YES. There’s beauty in your scars and in all of what you had been through. Yes, everyone has his own definition or opinion of what is beautiful but, in the end, it will come down to what is more than the superficial aspect of it and for what it can offer. It is something you could only see through the marks you had acquired while having truly lived the life that you want—through your scars.

To be beautiful is to be just who you are, with flaws and weaknesses. To be beautiful is to feel it first from the inside. To be beautiful is to heal from what hurts or destroys just so you could become a better version of you. To be beautiful is to truly live.

One of the most beautiful things happened in my life a little over three years ago when I became a dad for the first time. It was a joyful experience, something I would always cherish for as long as I live. A thing of beauty, as what John Keats had said, is a joy forever.

Let me share to you a sonnet I wrote last year titled “Sometimes Things Happen So We Could Feel Them.” The world may not be a perfect place in which to live and the living is not easy. But these are what will make life a very beautiful experience.

Sometimes things happen so we could feel them:
That there is more to what emotions are
In complete display of something; to claim
The moment’s need to fill our skies with stars
When dark clouds are all around to cover.
There’s more to what seeing truly demands
In so far as we start to truly care
What we kept as treasures, from where they stand.
The way things are accepted define us
But as we seek to find understanding
How a thing, better or worse than it was,
Could get lost, is what we are missing.
Like there is nothing we can only get
If no one’s there in our lives to have met.

 

The importance of knowing what loving your child means

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Taken when he was two years old, Nathaniel has made this chair his stage.

What is your very reason for becoming a parent? Does having a baby is more than enough to fill a void in your life? Does having a baby has become a means taking away all of your loneliness and emptiness within? How would you be able to control and triumph this special parent-child relationship from the other relationships you have failed? Do you have this ability by which you could accurately reflect on your child’s feelings and participate in his experiencing? Do you know what loving your child really means?

These questions, if answered honestly, would expose what kind of a parent you truly are from what you should be. But the last question is one that can give some huge an impact for that matter. Knowing what loving your child means is to know what you can give him best. Give him, therefore, the real gift of your love in action. You have to allow me, as a parent myself, to take it deeper in the discussion that follows.

 Knowing what loving your child means is very important to avoid the danger of fusing with your child or the danger of symbiosis. While it is true that, as a parent, one best way to show your love to your child is meeting his needs, yet there are two important things that loving does not mean. One is to put into mind that loving your child does not mean giving him everything he wants. The other one is for the parent to stop acting as though he was the child himself.

In a parent-child relationship, loving should mean establishing an appropriate relationship. It is about the honoring of the innate connection between a parent and in recognizing the fact that he is not actually his child. The parent must be aware of the fact that he and his child are two separate people.

Of course, the parent (especially the mother) and her infant should appear so fused or intimately connected from the very start, but this condition is temporary and necessary only to ensure the survival of the baby. Due to the infant’s so many needs, a parent, most particularly the mom, has to be exquisitely sensitive to her babe so she could do the things necessary for his survival. But she must resist such a tendency of merging with her child; she needs to isolate herself from the baby in proper time. Most parents evolve into symbiotic moms and dads, instead of becoming ones who are emphatic.

Empathy is one of the basic elements in fostering attunement, allowing the parent to know what should be done in order to maintain balance between nurturing and structuring. Once a mom or dad is attuned to his or her child’s needs would know when to meet these needs by saying yes and when to meet such needs by saying no. Empathizing is the best way to show you truly care for someone and, when it’s done by a parent to his child, to show what loving your child means for that matter.