Friday, December 07, 2007

what I learned (about parenting) from my Dad

Today is my Dad's birthday. As I get closer to being a parent myself, I'm realizing how many lessons he's taught me about being a good parent. Thought I'd share them with you, too.

1. Hugs and affection make everything better. 'Nuff said.

2. If you're also teaching the right values, you can't spoil a kid by giving them things they want. Mum always accuses dad of spoiling us. The truth is, he was often the one to indulge us in what we wanted... but he was also the one to remind us to be respectful, and to consider others' feelings. By being generous with us, he set a great example so that we could learn to be generous towards others.

3. Don't let your kids get away with intellectual laziness. Anytime we used a big word, Dad would ask us what it meant. If we couldn't define it (even though we knew how to use it), he'd send us for the dictionary. Sometimes we flat-out refused - and then he'd go get it, and read us the definition. Same for questions about geography, history, etc. He never let us get away with not knowing. Thanks to Dad, I learned to use reference books and seek out answers instead of being content with only a little knowledge.

4. Sometimes it's best to say very little. When I first started dating Mr. December (at age 17), Mum wasn't convinced that he was right for me - and she was afraid we were getting too serious too quickly. While out walking with Dad, he turned to me and said, "it's really nice to feel that way about someone, isn't it?" That was his only comment, and it meant the world to me.

5. Be explicit about the connection between your family's values and your child's actions. If I cried about having 'wasted' my time playing at the grandparents' house instead of being with my friends, Dad would remind me what a mitzvah it is to honour your elders and to bring happiness to those who are lonely. If I got too far into bad-mouthing someone I didn't like, Dad reminded me of the Jewish laws against Lashon Hara. A phone call from my grade 3 French teacher (and my subsequent rant about what a bad teacher she was) prompted Dad to ask me if I knew the meaning of Derech Eretz and whether I was aware that we are supposed to respect our teachers' authority and position, if not their personal conduct. To this day I still think about my actions in terms of Jewish values and ethics.

There's much, much more... but I'm probably rambling, and you get the idea.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your parents' example?


Susan said...

As I got older I began to realize how much my parents meant to me. I was very lucky to grow up in a very loving household. I spent a lot of time with my Dad and he was very patient with me. He taught me so much--how to take care of myself, if something is worth doing--it's worth doing write (I had to rewrite the envelopes for my Valentine's Day cards the one year. I was not happy, especially since all the other kids in the class had their mothers write out their cards), I was a very slow runner on the Track and Cross Country teams and he was always there to cheer me on. I improved my time by a couple of minutes the one year on CC and I thought I was going to get the award for most improved. I did not. My Dad went out and had a trophy made that said "Most Improved Runner". My parents--I love them so much!!

Susan said...

oops--if it's worth doing--it's worth doing well

Aurelia said...

Hmm, these sound like good things to go with. Definitely good parenting ideas!

Anonymous said...

I think I learned a lot about how NOT to parent from my mom. I know when the time comes to parent, I will have a list of how not to do things, especially with teenagers.

If you need help in a few years, I have lots of advice. :)

Ben & Sandi said...

sounds like some great advice/parenting ideas. my parents, esp my dad, has always been a big influence on my life and they both have always been there for me to lean when things seemed so rough. i know when we have kids i'll be trying my best to set the same example my family set for me. i remember as a child thinking some of my parents ideas seemed fishy and odd to me but now as i look back i see that everything they did for me was because they were always looking out for my best interests. i appreciate it so much more now being older and understanding their reasoning, i love them so much. i hope you and lumpy are doing well today. :) p.s. our dad's share the same bday's.