Important things all parents should teach their children - Let your child simply be a child

When I was a child I had the feeling that my relatives, including my parents, did not always treat me as a child that I was. Before I even finished primary school, I had to cook, do the laundry, work in the garden or in the fields, depending on whether we were in town or in the village. Here is a good example. One day, a few weeks before my final high school exams I decided not to go to school. The plan was to stay at home and catch up on some school stuff that I new I had not absorbed very well. It was a difficult decision for me to make because I was the kind of guy who enjoyed school and did not like missing a day of school. Anyway, there I was putting my books and other materials together, getting ready to start learning when my mom woke up. When she noticed that I was at home, the first thing she asked me to do was to go and do some work in the garden. There was not much I could do to escape from the garden work because where I come from children do not discuss with their parents. What the parents say, you do. No questions and with a smile on your face. 
Fireman - Your child can be anything. The sky is the limit
My master plan
There and then, I decided that I would raise my children under more favourable conditions. I would give them the chance to say what they think about any decisions I make. Wondering why I am telling you all this? That's because this is the beginning of a series of posts where I write about things that I think parents should teach their children. Let me emphasize the point by repeating that the series of posts will contain my ideas of what I believe my parents should have taught me or the way I believe they should have raised me. These are things that I am teaching or have taught my children in the hope that they will be prepared to become better citizens of this global village we now live in, when they reach adulthood. There is a summary of the 10 main things I think parents should teach their children in my post located here, for those of you who are in a hurry.
Things children will always do, regardless of what you think or say
The topic for today is "Let your children be children". Don't deprive them of their childhood. Allow them to experiment and do not put them on a leash. By the way, this reminds me of a certain lucky Japanese father whose son was considered to be a genius. When asked how he had managed to raise a genius, his answer was surprisingly simple. He said he believed the reason was that he was so busy that he just let his son do what children do best, i.e. play, learn and experiment without restrictions. This allowed his son to do what other children normally do not get a chance to do because their parents are always setting limits for them. Of course, the idea here is not to completely leave your children to their own devices, but let them be children. Do not expect them to be small adults:
  • who eat at the table without dropping a single thing,    Policeman - Your child can be anything. The sky is the limit
  • who do not forget to do things they are told,
  • who do not scream and make noise when they are happy,
  • who do not fail a test once in a while,
  • who do not have moods,
  • who are always happy,
  • who are always responsible and do what is expected of them,
  • who can work from 9 to 5,
  • who do not procrastinate,
  • etc.
I could go on forever, but that's not the point. The fact is, I think it would be hard to find an adult who fulfils all those requirements. I know I am guilty of a few accidents like spilling a glass of orange juice right at the beginning on an important business meeting or not doing stuff I know I should be doing. In other words, as a parent you need to remember that the saying "no one is perfect" does not apply to adults only.
No pushing, please!
We, parents, all had our ambitions when we were young. I know I wanted to be a pilot. It's good to have ambitions, but it's also good to remember that your ambitions are yours and only yours. Don't push your children to fulfil your ambitions. Remember they are also human beings and most probably they have their own ambitions, which are probably not similar to yours. Let them go through the standard stages of wanting to be policemen, firemen, pilots, teachers, nurses or doctors. Just like we all did. Remember the sky is the limit for your children. They can be anything. So why would you want to set limit for them? Of course you can gently stir them in a certain direction if you believe they are talented in someway, but no pushing please. 
Solving problems
Now here is an idea that may sound contradictory to what this post is all about, i.e. allowing your child to simply be a child. I believe that when it comes to raising children it's important to apply the "completed staff work" principle. The idea behind the principle is that when someone identifies a problem, they should present the problem and possible solutions to their boss. The boss' task is then limited to saying yes or no or just selecting  one of the proposed solutions. When applied to parenting, you should encourage your child to come up with a solution every time he or she comes with a problem to solve. Not only does this teach your child problem solving, which is a fundamental quality in adult life, but it leaves you with less work to do or gives you the opportunity to discuss and explain the pros and cons of different solutions. That's part of spending quality time with your children, if you ask me.
Mind the toes
But I regress, because the topic of this post is to let your children enjoy their childhood. To cut a long story short, always try to understand that your children are not perfect. There is a time they will piss you off and there is a time you will be so proud of them. Do not expect them to make you proud all the time and you will both be able to enjoy life without stepping on each other's toes.
Your turn. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
Photo credit:  Duncan , Annethelibrarian 
Thu, 31 Jan 2013