Parents leave behind two legacies to their children— one is roots, the other wings. It starts with being responsible parents.
Whenever news about a mother is sensationalized or controversial, my readers ask for my reaction. I tell them that I cannot judge on what a parent should or should not do. Like any parent, I made mistakes in the past, learned from them and never did it again. Now the next question comes up with “How do you know whether you are being responsible or irresponsible ?” How do we teach our children what it means and how to act accordingly? Ellen Schrier on “What Exactly IS A “Responsible” Parent?” gave me wonderful insights on parenting without being preachy and calls upon your better judgment, maternal instinct and being honest about your role as a parent.
Listen to the podcast episode
It is actually simple. Remember these key phrases. To be responsible means to respond appropriately.
Let’s test certain situations that you can peruse over.
What if … your two year old toddler got hold of your scissors and is about to give your one year old baby boy a hair cut? Do you watch in amusement as your toddler throws an impish smile? Does it occur to you that the appropriate response is to firmly say “No you can’t do that” and remove the sharp scissors from her hands before anyone gets hurt. Your toddler is not aware of the dangers of handling the scissors. She sees you use it to cut her hair but as a parent, it is our job to keep everyone safe.
What if … you are at a family reunion where relatives often open a bottle of wine with their dinner. Someone asks you if your 11-year-old daughter can take a little wine since the dinner is a special celebration. Your daughter is the youngest among the other family members. The rest of her cousins are allowed to drink. What is the responsible thing to do?
Well, remember the key words, to be responsible means to respond appropriately. What are the facts? Isn’t it your rule and that of Philippine laws that young children are not allowed to drink alcohol? If you allow her to drink wine, even just a sip, she gets the message that laws are negotiable. Is that an appropriate message to send to your daughter?
What if … your seven-year-old never joins you at the dinner table because he is never hungry. He prefers to snack every hour, a habit that started when he was a toddler. He looks healthy, and a overweight and you hate to argue with him. Are you being responsible in letting the unsupervised snacking continue at the expense of eating at the dinner table with the family?
Well, think about it. Is it part of your job as parent to make sure your child meets his daily nutritional needs? Of course, you nod. Is it part of your job to teach him on social skills and engage in conversations? Yes, for sure. Isn’t it your duty to check if your child does not go over his desired weight? What then would be the appropriate response? It’s pretty obvious that you have to figure out a way to break the bad habit that has been established, right? That would be the responsible (appropriate, given your role as parent) thing to do.
What if … your one year old child is restless and experiencing low-grade fever. You already took her to the pediatrician three days ago. The doctor examined her and brushed away your concerns and blamed the not-so-serious-virus. You are the person in charge of your child’s welfare. A nagging feeling inside you says something wrong. Is it appropriate to discount your own intuition? Or should you see another pediatrician for a second opinion.
What if … you overhear your 14-year-old’s friends laughing at their drunken behavior in a party last night? Would it be responsible to deny that you didn’t hear this conversation? Or, do you have an obligation to bring it out with your daughter and her friends and discuss the incident at the party? What is the appropriate response when faced with this kind of information?
Now you have an idea on being a responsible parent is. If faced with a sticky situation, ask yourself “I wonder whether I’m being responsible here.”
I believe the rules of parents are all but three. Love , Limit and Let them be. For your children to understand appropriate behavior, let them know you love them, set the boundaries, be consistent and know that you can’t be with them 24/7. There is a time to let go. What we hope most for our children is that they soar confidently in their own sky, whatever that may be.