That the role of parenting comes with an enormous responsibility is hardly a secret. Centuries ago, the great writer Shakespeare said, “The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven’s lieutenants.” His words are as relevant today as they were then.
But raising children is a difficult job. And even more so today, what with the world changing at an unbelievable pace, baffling the parents and often knocking them down. Parents face all kinds of dilemmas: Are they guiding their children the right way? Are they too strict or too lenient? And what about the unending barrage of questions? Indeed many parents realise how little they know once their children begin to ask those questions.
What makes raising children a grand challenge is that most young parents start off on the wrong lane. If there’s one thing that parents want more than anything else, it is to see their children happy, healthy and successful. And yet, unbeknownst to them, most of them end up hurting their child’s real growth. Excessive criticism, unrealistic expectations, ineffective communication, dichotomous ideals, confused values—the list is long.
This happens because most parents land their job without any training or experience whatsoever. One day—a beautiful day—they find themselves holding their new baby, astonished by the miracle called life, and totally overwhelmed and unprepared for what lies ahead.
In her book 100 Ways to Build Self-Esteem and Teach Values, Diane Loomans shares a beautiful poem titled If I had my child to raise all over again, in which she says:
If I had my child to raise all over again, I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later; I would do less correcting and more connecting; I’d do more hugging and less tugging; I would be firm less often; and affirm much more; I’d teach less about the love of power, And more about the power of love.
Alas, no one gets another go at raising their children. That is why I recommend that you read this issue’s cover story with attention. In it, author, speaker and change expert Ariane de Bonvoisin shows parents how they can raise conscious children who grow up equipped with the ability and the sense to take care of themselves. The nine principles that Ariane outlines may well change your whole approach of raising children. And even if you’re not yet a parent, or if you have grown-up kids, her fresh perspective is worth savouring—and sharing.
Before I end, let me leave you with a thought: despite its challenges, I think parenting remains the most wonderful, most fulfilling of experiences that humans are blessed with. American author Marilyn French put it beautifully: “To nourish children and raise them against the odds is, in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons.”