By Lavern Nissley
If you have children, or are planning to have children, what would you say is your one word job description as a parent? It could fit into the blank in this sentence: "I believe my parenting job description is to __________."
Although there are a handful of words that could easily sum up the essence of parenting, one word that fits well is TEACH.
When you think about it, that's a big responsibility! These little people come to us knowing absolutely nothing about how to take care of themselves or to navigate life. We have about 18 years to TEACH them what they need in order to be a responsible citizen on this planet.
When we raise this job description question with parents, some look at us blankly, as though we've asked them for an Einstein formula of some sort. But when they hear the single word "TEACH", their faces brighten, and they say, "Oh, yeah."
Having a one word job description is very helpful, for it helps us analyze our effectiveness in parenting. "What am I TEACHING my children? How can I become a better TEACHER? Am I TEACHING my children to thrive?"
Dr. Christian Conte, a well known mental health specialist and facilitator on parenting, offers The 4 C's of Parenting as a resource toward high leverage parenting. He emphasizes often the importance of TEACHING our children. About what? About the 4 C's below.
There WAS another positive influence that made a difference in our own parenting. It is a timeless poem written by Dorothy Law Nolte (1924-2005), a parent educator, practitioner and family counselor.
Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, They learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, They learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise, They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance, They learn to love.
If children live with approval, They learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, They learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness, They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
(Copyright © 1972/1975 by Dorothy Law Nolte)
A big thank you to the many TEACHERS who have gone before us, specifically those who TAUGHT us how to parent well.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.