Essay Preview: Parenting
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Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. James Baldwin
The joys of parenting come with some heavy responsibilities. As parents, we are keen to give our children a good start in life, by not allowing them to pick up bad habits. And so, we instruct, guide and correct them on a daily basis. We praise them for their achievements and criticize their flaws. But have we stopped to think of the effect our incessant counsel and advice have on our children?
James Baldwin, in offering his thoughts on parenting, seems not to believe that either praise or scorn has the desired effect of refining our childs character. He has recognized that the truism, “actions speak louder than words” is particularly true for young for children. Children are not capable of rational thought, argument or learning by thinking as much as adults are. As such, the lessons of an adult are rarely picked up consciously by the child, but rather more passively, through a process somewhat like osmosis – if wisdom is received, it is learnt from the actions, not the words of parents.
For this reason, parents should not be so concerned that their children never listen to them – this is, perhaps to be expected. Rather than verbally teach the child the lessons we consider important, adults should concern themselves with the example they set in everyday life for their child for, as Baldwin notes, whilst they may never listen, children are always watching their parents.
A child forms his opinions of life and the world by the actions, reactions and attitudes of his parents. His actions, judgments and reasoning as an adult are influenced by them. It is a well documented fact that children who have been physically abused by their parents are more likely to become abusers themselves. Sociologists tell us that children whose parents dont take the effort to hold a job but rely on social security are at a risk of finding themselves in similar situations. These children have not had a good standard to live their lives by. It is therefore true that the lack of a good example is as potentially detrimental to a childs growth and learning, as is a bad one.
Perhaps parents can also learn a lesson from Baldwins thoughts. Rather than expecting or hoping our children to be perfect and setting