Has parenting become more difficult as the years have progressed or has parenting always been as demanding as it is now? Is it harder to be a child at Northbridge International School Cambodia growing up in 2021 or has it always been hard? These are rhetorical questions and there are no answers or there is no clear cut answer, we will all have differing opinions on this.
What is clear, is that, in today’s world, our children face intense pressure and that some of these pressures are new to 2021 and to the last few decades; if we’d have talked of online abuse or cyber bullying some twenty, thirty years ago then no one would have had any idea of what was being referred to. Our children face concerns and worries to them that just wouldn’t have existed before and sometimes even a year or two ago. Take Covid 19 and the World wide pandemic and even back at the beginning of 2020, if someone had asked you if you’ve ever had Corona you’d have thought they were asking whether you’d enjoyed the beer that shares the same name.
Growing up in a pandemic is not easy, as it is not easy parenting in a pandemic. The children are having to learn about social distancing, about not sharing toys, about the need to constantly wash hands, about not giving a hug to someone outside of their immediate family and bubble, about online learning and not being able to attend school, except virtually, and so the list can go on. The children are having to accept that their landscape can change in the click of a finger and that there is now a new kind of normal that changes as quickly as the changing of the tide. One day they can go to school, in the school building and the next it is online learning and at home. One day they can pop in a car and visit their grandparents in the Province and the next moment they are in lockdown at home. Psychologists have no idea what the impact will be upon future generations as they have lived through this pandemic, professionals can discuss and philosophize and come up with suggestions and theories but the reality is that no one actually knows.
Then there is the impact upon us, as adults: financial concerns and problems are on the rise, people have lost jobs and income and suddenly their futures can look less than certain, fear/anxiety is on the increase and no one actually knows how their body would or might respond were they to get Covid. People are going hungry right on our doorstep and don’t even know where their next meal is coming from nor when they will get it. Health services are being stretched and political unrest has been a horrendous issue for some countries. We all have our own theories and ideas of how best to keep safe and when these are not adhered to (followed) by others then how do we respond?
With the stress and pressure that we are all living under: alcohol abuse, drug addiction, physical violence and abuse and suicides are all on the rise. Perhaps now more than ever before, with the exception of war times, do we have such a weight of responsibility to keep our children safe, as best we can. So, how do we keep our children safe and secure in a time of such uncertainty? The landscape may be constantly changing but the principles of good parenting never change.
Firstly please remember that we can not be perfect parents but we can all learn to be great parents. If you’re a parent then you’re on the same journey as every other parent. I have come to see, through my experiences, that children in principle are the same throughout the world and there are some things that just aren’t cultural, they’re innate, that is, we’re just born with them. It can be helpful to be honest and open and to share the highs and lows of parenting with others. We have had some amazing times as we’ve led parenting courses here at Northbridge International School and when the world opens up again please consider coming to these. They are invaluable. Parenting is perhaps the most important job you’ll ever have and you need to give your everything to it.
Next your children need to know they are loved and that they are secure, the truth is every human has these needs deep within. When you bring your newborn baby home from the hospital you know that it’s your job to keep them safe and to provide for them for their survival but this is always true not just when they are a baby. Your children need to be loved for who they are, not what they achieve. Children need love that is unconditional, that is you love them always and forever no matter what they do in life or who they become. Ask your children if they know that you love them, if they are not sure or say no, don’t get angry with them, this is your responsibility and you need to find ways to show them your love.
Then there is the importance of communication. You need to have an open relationship where they can share anything with you and you can be trusted to not go “wild” and to hear them out. When we give our children our full attention (please put your mobile down, it can wait but your child won’t and will believe the phone is more important than they are) they feel valued and loved. Our children, as we do, need to be affirmed and encouraged. The power in our tongue is frightening and comes with a huge responsibility. Our tongue has the power to annihilate and destroy another.
Following on from communication your child needs clear boundaries and these need to be fair and your child needs to understand them. Boundaries provide our children with security and teach them right from wrong. What type of parent are you and do you want to change your style of parenting? Do you operate from a place of, your child must do exactly as they are told and there is no discussion and you are far too controlling? Do you allow your child to do anything they want and they rule the house? Do you completely neglect your child and let somebody else take on the role of parenting? These are all damaging and will impact your child negatively. The most effective approach is to be an assertive parent where there are boundaries and clear guidance and that these are discussed and shared with your child and your child is given freedom within limits. A child raised by an Assertive Parenting style will be safe, secure and more confident. We can decide what kind of parent we want to be but be incredibly wise in your choice.
Some of you find the next idea incredibly tough, but we have two roles as parents “roots and wings”. Your child needs to know that they belong, they need to understand their culture and heritage and then… you have to allow them to fly the nest and become their own independent, free thinking adult. When you try and hold on and control you will build resentment and ultimate rebellion. Your child will not respect you, nor love you, they may allow you to control them for a season but you will either build unhealthy relationships of dependency or ineffective adults who are incompetent of being married and raising their own families. Let your children go, with love, gentleness, great care and thoughtfulness and don’t confine them to a cage. Our children need to learn to make good choices and to develop the capacity to cope with whatever life throws at them.
I believe at Northbridge International School we have the next leaders of governments, leaders of education, leaders of media, leaders of art and entertainment, leaders of business and economy, leaders of religion within nations and leaders of families. Working with your children is incredible and amazing and at Northbridge International School we are passionate about your children and truly care for them as a collective body but also as the individual. Every child truly matters. Your child is unique, your child is special, your child is fearfully and wonderfully made, your child has a plan and a destiny and it’s exciting and hopeful. Thank you for partnering with us in raising your children, the next leaders and change makers but remember the greatest power of influence and responsibility is yours, as the parent. Raise up and become the parents you were always intended to be and enjoy the greatest role in the world.