by Sami Yacoub
part of Our Children and Marriage Series:
Our Children and Marriage 1 Our Children and Marriage 2
Today's world is characterized by its very fast pace and the amazing advancements in the methods of communication, all of which greatly impact relationships between parents and their children.
With the difficulty that some parents have in keeping up with these advancements due to their complex nature or due to the limited time available, some parents have retreated slowly from the scene, leaving their children all by themselves, to face a world full of different ideologies which may not be in line with the parents' religious or ethical beliefs. This in turn has resulted in wrong decisions from the children's side, and an increasing gap between two generations who each accuse the other of not understanding!
We, as parents, were raised and educated in a society whose ideology belongs to the previous century. Thus, many of us do not have some, or most, of the skills needed to use the computer, and even if we did, we find ourselves faced with more applications and new programs that we cannot keep up with or learn. But despite all of these enormous and rapid changes, one thing has definitely not changed. And that is the fact that parents are the first and foremost influencers in the lives of their children in the different stages of their growth. The principles taught by every father and mother inside the family – especially if mirrored practically in their lives – has great power to influence children's character, attitudes, and views.
Nothing compares to the valuable parental discussions that bring out a lot of energies and latent talents in children, and there is no power that could impact the future of children like the power of love and unconditional acceptance to every son and daughter.
If we attempted to speculate the degree of happiness or agony of the couples who live around us, we will find that most of them are affected by their family background and how they were brought up. Children do not really need a dad who is an Internet expert, or a mom who communicates with them via Facebook, even though these skills are generally helpful and enjoyable. What children really need more than any other person or thing is their parents themselves, because it is from them that they learn valuable critical thinking skills and the wisdom to make healthy choices. Practicing these skills begins from the very early years of childhood, since children obtain their information from various sources including the media, school, and friends. Therefore, the parental role is very crucial to prepare children for life, through training them on the skills of linking their head knowledge with real life, and the challenge of choosing what to do and what not to do, based on their parents’ ethical, religious, and social values.
Our children grow faster than we could possibly imagine, and on many occasions they will find themselves in the middle of crossroads where they will need to make important decisions and choices in life. Some of these decisions have a short term effect and relate to temporary activities, or to choices that are not necessarily contradictory, while other decisions could bear long-term and very critical consequences, such as the choice of a marriage partner. Such a decision affects one’s entire life, since it could either take the person on a road full of lifelong joy and fulfilment or into one of life's fiercest battlefields! Thus, since this is a very critical topic and of high importance, we should, as parents, take the initiative of training our children every day and through every situation to think ahead, to anticipate problems and to think of ways to solve them, to indicate opportunities and compare between their positives or potential negatives. All these methodologies, whether planned or spontaneous, will improve children’s self-esteem, and will help them develop a sense of responsibility towards any outcomes that will result from their choices.
If we long to see our children at their best in life, let’s adopt this parenting direction, and make it gradually a way of life in our families. Never feel that it’s too late to start, you will be amazed by your children's natural readiness, and their rapid response to this innovative way of parenting. Your joy over the wisdom of your children, and feeling happy about the way they make their choices, will exceed the pride of any other achievement they will make in life, for “a wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.” (Proverbs 10:1)
Copyright © 2011 Focus on the Family Middle East. All rights reserved. Originally Published in Watani Paper 29.5.2011