What your child really wants from you

What your child really wants from you

Who needs experts - when you can hear it from your own flesh and blood? What is it your kids want you to do - as a parent?



By Karen Ann Monsy (Senior Sub Editor)

Published: Fri 19 Jun 2015, 12:05 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Jul 2015, 2:49 PM

Parenting is a tough (and confusing) ballgame — especially if you are handling a teenager. It’s not unusual to see moms and pops in a muddle trying to figure out the rules of the game, at times tearing their hair out in exasperation, at times loving the new beat (we say new because the role needs reinvention every day). But have we ever thought about what the guys at the other end of the stick — the kids — think of parenting? What if these youngsters had the chance to reverse roles, and pass on a tip or two to the adults? wknd. spoke to a bunch of young guns — teenagers and one pre-teen — to get their PoV on parenting. Parents, buckle up and, as the very first tip reveals, listen.

“Listen.”

Honestly, above all things, that’s the one trait I’d say every kid wants from every parent the most. If your kid is talking, don’t just tune out or give them one ear while you do something on the side. Focus on what they’re saying. If he/she sees that you’re actually paying attention (and not struggling to remember people who’ve been their friends for the last 10 years or pointing out fingerprints on their glasses in the middle of an exciting story), that will probably encourage them to open up to you more! Parenting is not just about giving instructions — which is also very important, of course — but about listening, because then you find out what’s important to your child and that strengthens your bond.Faye Therese Francis, 17, Filipino-Sri Lankan

“Lead by example.”

Children tend to follow what their parents do (whether they admit it or not). If, for example, they see that every time their parents get mad, they resort to shouting, that’s probably what they’ll end up doing in similar situations too. Isn’t that what the social learning theory [by Stanford University psychologist Albert Bandura] is all about? If you want people to follow you, you’ve got to lead them to it. Be the change you want to see and set a good example. If children are exposed to good role models in their parents, they’re more likely to follow suit. But I think it would be unfair for parents to expect kids to develop characters that they refuse to develop either.

Ma Carmela Joy A Mungkal, 15, Filipino

“Let us know that we can count on you.”

Be the people that your child knows he/she can fall back on. The world we’re growing up in today is not the world our parents grew up in many years ago. The same morals and values stand, of course, but our world is governed by technology, activism and issues of a nature that didn’t really exist in our parents’ time. We’re growing up in a society that encourages us to be different — but expects us to fit right in [with convention]. Kids are so overwhelmed by all the options, the choices, the questions they have today that it’s imperative for parents to be there for them — not just providing for their physical needs, but looking after them emotionally too. If your kids don’t know they can come to you with whatever they’re going through, they might end up going to other sources for advice — and those sources may not always be the best ones. They need to know they can come to you.

Amona Rite Donald, 16, Indian

“Respect should be two-way.”

Children have to respect their parents, for sure, but respect should be a two-way thing. Respect can be understood in different ways; in this context, it just means giving due regard for the other’s feelings. I think it’s important not just for a child to respect a parent’s decisions, but for a parent to respect a child’s opinions as well and not force them to do what they don’t want to do. Without that two-way respect, a relationship could get damaged. On the other hand, having a mutually respectful relationship with your child can even encourage him/her do better at school.

Samuel Beard, 16, British

“Don’t ever give up on us.”

Sometimes, the relationship between a parent and child can deteriorate due to various reasons. This is often the case especially during teenage years. But, as parents, I think you can’t ever give up on your kids — no matter how frustrating things get. There’s just no excuse for that. It’s like saying you’re not proud of your child anymore and that’s a horrible message to send out. Kids will make mistakes. You can get mad at them, but instead, it would help more to find a way to communicate how they can avoid doing the same thing again. Giving up though — that’s an absolute no-no.

Carolina Patricio, 14, Portuguese

“Be kind.”

Parents should be loving but they should also be kind. Forgiving kids for their mistakes or wrongs is one way [not holding it against them]. Showing concern for what’s happening in your child’s life is another. Ask them what they did at school, what they learnt, how their day went — but also encourage kids to ask about your day too. Most parents get home tired after a really stressful day. If the kids are of age, parents can encourage a rapport where kids ask about the parents’ day too. My mom does that with me and hearing about her day, especially if it was stressful, makes me to try to help her more. I think allowing kids to understand what you go through as a parent helps them learn to be kind and considerate to you too.

Jeremy Mathew Mancha, 13, Indian

“Humour helps!”

As kids, we usually turn to our friends at school for lighter moments — but it’s great if you can bring that excitement home too. It’s one thing I really appreciate at my place. My mum’s the more humorous one and it’s really fun to be able to have that banter going on. It helps to take your mind off stressful situations, or even, sad ones — probably because you don’t really expect the jokes to come from your parents! Of course, from a parent’s perspective, the things that stress out a child may not be much in comparison to their own worries, but for young minds, it’s still a lot. Trying to lighten the mood shows you understand that. Not that the jokes are always the best — but the attempt is definitely appreciated!

William Stewart, 15, British-Japanese

“Don’t add to the pressure.”

I’ve seen a lot of problems on TV, involving kids committing suicide due to severe pressure, or because their parents want them to fulfil their wishes and dreams, instead of letting the children pursue whatever they are passionate about. Those are situations that may not end very well, and they make me sad because these are kids my age taking their lives... It just shouldn’t happen at all. Students’ lives today are actually quite stressful due to intense workload and competition. So, while parents should definitely push children to do well at school, I just think they shouldn’t go overboard and put too much pressure on them so that the kids reach a point where they can’t handle the strain and believe life isn’t worth living anymore.

Unnati Bajracharya, 16, Nepali

“Don’t hover.”

I think it’s important for parents to create opportunities to gradually allow their kids to grow independently. It could be through games, school trips, or allowing them to do things for themselves. A parent’s natural instinct is to be protective. And that’s great — I grew up in a well-protected environment, and I’m so grateful for it. The only downside is that, in the long run, you don’t develop the skill sets you need for adulthood. Something as simple as being allowed to take public transport — even though it costs time and money — can help impart a sense of responsibility and make you feel good about yourself (especially when you’re 15 and used to being driven around!). I’ve been on school trips to India, Shanghai, Yale… and I think if I wasn’t given that opportunity, I’d be a very different person today. You get to find out what kind of person you are, and that’s very revealing. So, if parents restrict kids throughout their childhood and never let them do anything for themselves, they’ll be safe — but they’ll be ill-equipped to handle situations on their own.

Oliver Knight, 15, British-Australian


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