Nancy's Columns

Nancy has written over 700 columns and essays on the subjects of education and parenting. We're in the process of making them all available for download, but in the meantime please enjoy a few from the archive. Click below to display a new one.

Load Another

New Years Resolutions

Under topic: communication

Every New Year we make resolutions to do things differently in the future. Parents aspire to have a positive influence on their children.

No matter how hard they try every year, overpowering negative outside influences work overtime to thwart them --- violence on the streets and on TV, dishonesty and greed in the workplace, the message of hopelessness and despair--just to mention a few.

Begin this year by believing in yourself as a parent.

Remember you know your child best and have his or her interests at heart. You can seek another's advice and ideas, but do not disregard your own feelings because you think you know less. You are the highest authority concerning your own children.

Try to communicate to your children that they are acceptable to you completely just as they are. This does not mean that you accept everything they do. This is called separating the deed from the doer. Never say anything negative about your child as a person. Saying: "Your room is messy and I want you to clean it." is much different from saying:"You are a messy person and the condition of your room proves I'm right about you."

Avoid sentences that label.

Many parents want their children to be perfect and are disappointed when they are not. However, parents are not perfect either.

The most important but most difficult thing to acknowledge as parents is that we are our children's role models.

We cannot get by with the philosophy of : "Do as I say not do as I do." Children imitate us and they learn by observing and by listening to what goes on around them.

Most children admire and love their parents and want to be like them.

For good or ill, they are the product of the adult models around them.

If parents always communicate with each other in a sarcastic, derogatory way, children conclude that that is what husbands and wives do.

If children are physically struck when parents feel they are in the way or have not done what parents expect them to do, then children learn to be secretive, to be evasive and to be untruthful to avoid abuse.

We cannot expect anything different. We need to be aware of our young audience in everything we do.

The wonderful part of this, however, is that it works the other way too. Parents who treat and communicate with one another with respect even though they might disagree, model these skills for their children to learn.

Many parents want their children to be perfect and are disappointed when they are not. However, parents are not perfect either.

Some drink but get upset when their children do so. They smoke but do not want their children to smoke.

They lose their temper and become abusive but get upset when their children act the same.

They are inconsiderate with each other but want their children to be considerate with them.

They use foul language but punish the children if they say the same words.

They talk about something dishonest they did at work but get upset if their children steal or lie.

We cannot have it both ways.

Set high standards for yourself and your children will reflect them. You may make mistakes but that is how we learn. Try not to be too hard on yourself. You will be a better role model for your children if you can relax a little and laugh a little when things go wrong.

I encourage parents to begin this New Year by rethinking their role as models for their children.

While you cannot control the outside influences on your children, you can control what happens in your own home. I wish you success in the New Year in what is your most important, and ultimately, your most rewarding responsibility.

First published in 1994