Many young or soon-to-be parents often ask themselves “Should I be bringing up my children the way that I was brought up?” We’ve repeatedly been asked the same question by our Youtube audience. But the answer is not as straightforward as you may think.
Our answer is both yes and no, to be exact. How is that possible?
It’s difficult to decide how exactly we should be parenting. What genre of books to read to our children, or if parenting without saying ‘NO’ is the new trend we must follow.
What is a successful, acceptable and modern way to prepare our children for the rest of their lives?
Let me tell you from experience, this becomes even harder when both parents come from two completely different cultures and backgrounds. Since my parenting style is influenced by my Nigerian roots and David’s from his German roots, we’ve had to consistently find a beautiful middle ground.
Who else is in a similar situation? Leave a comment below 😉
When it comes to raising your children, It is not uncommon to feel pressure from everyone – friends, family, in-laws or society in general. However, I believe it is important to create a parenting style that is unique to you as a family. This unique parenting style could be a blend of your core values, beliefs, up-to-date credible research, culture etc. It can therefore be the case that sometimes you look back at your own upbringing for inspiration. As I mentioned earlier, we occasionally dive into our childhood for parenting inspiration, and sometimes to our families for advice.
It can be a thought-provoking and interesting conversation to have with your spouse about what values matter the most to you. And what values you both would like to instil in your children, even before they’re born.
Here are some of ours and why we think they are important.
The most important value of all. It is crucial to show children your love for each other as parents and simultaneously your love for them. Be generous with your affections. Say ‘I love you’ as often as you can to your children and to your spouse. Give hugs, cuddles, compliments. Also try to demonstrate your love in unusual ways: by cooking their favourite food, surprising them with their favourite movie or giving an extra scoop of ice cream when they least expect it 🙂 Most importantly BE VOCAL about your feelings.
“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone” – Gladys Bronwyn Stern
2. Consideration for others
This is the core of good manners. Teaching kids to act in a way that is polite, and being mindful not to upset others by their behaviour. ‘Savoir vivre’ – The knowledge of how to properly act in polite society is taught over time. It is important to instil in them early on the importance of consideration for others.
“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use”- Emily Post
3. Equality and Diversity
As an interracial feminist couple, it is crucial for us to teach our sons about equality and diversity. In essence they too are diverse. They are a reflection of the concept of human diversity. We want our boys to grow up very aware of the different races, cultures, languages, religions and so on. But we want them to also learn about diversity in terms of disability (mental and physical), and that we all look different yet at the core are the same. We treat everyone with equal respect and our boys observe our behaviour towards other people in day to day interactions.
“The great secret…is not having bad manners or good manners, but having the same manner for all human souls” – George Bernard Shaw
Equality matters no matter the race, gender, or status. But we need to teach our children these values and show them that this is not a movement or a concept – it should be a norm.
‘The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles’ is a very important value to have. I wrote this article ‘Integrity & Authenticity: Are they a thing of the past’ a few months ago. You can read it here.
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching”. C.S Lewis.
Being a person of character, keeping your word, being authentic and genuine. There is not much advice to give here, except children mimic what they see. So show them integrity. Be truthful always, even when you make a mistake. Make the right decision, even when it’s difficult. Children subconsciously internalise these things.
5. Respect for life
This encompasses so many things. Respecting your own human life and taking care of your health. That is a crucial lesson you can teach your children by educating them about nutrition, taking them grocery shopping and serving healthy home cooked meals. But we also want our kids to be respectful of the planet and environment around them by making sustainable choices. Teach them about trees, pollution, nature . Try to live your life in a more sustainable way and explain your choices to your kids. We want our children to learn that life is a beautiful miracle worth of admiration and we must all do our part to preserve its beauty.
“When we learn to respect all life, we learn to love all life”– Anthony Douglas Williams
“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” – anonymous
While many kids are born kind and sweet, we still need to nurture that seed of kindness in their mind. First help them to understand what kindness means – talk to them about it. Then show acts of kindness towards them, your spouse, and other people you encounter in your life. Use kind words, smile, praise them when they deserve it. Listen to them and give them a chance to apologise if they misbehave.
“We must all suffer one of two pains: Pain of discipline, or pain of regret” – Jim Rohn.
I’m a strong believer that if you enforce discipline early on in your kids, you will be establishing lasting positive personality traits. Believe it or not, kids thrive a lot better when there is discipline in place. They’ll try to overstep boundaries just to test if the rule you put in place yesterday is still valid. It’s our duty to enforce any house rules, although as a parent I know sometimes the easier thing to do is to look away. The benefits of discipline go beyond raising ‘well-mannered’ children, it helps them set and achieve life goals which ultimately leads to a fulfilling life.
What are some of the core values you are instilling in your children?