No parent wants to learn that their child is addicted to drugs, yet millions find themselves in this situation. No parent wants their child to be a victim of discrimination, bullying, child abuse, sexual harassment, and other dangerous situations, but it happens every day. Every parent should ask, “What must I do to protect my children? What can I do to prepare them for the future?”
Parents need to equip their children with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle situations of potential danger. From birth on, children and adults are constantly learning new and important life skills. For example, a toddler will master the art of using eating utensils and dressing oneself and over time will learn more needed life skills.
Spending quality time with children has been shown to be most advantageous. Many parents are overloaded because of work, family, and household commitments, but time must be put aside to spend with children in the family, even if it’s only 30 to 60 minutes a month. The infant and toddler can be exposed to lullabies, fairy tales, and stories of family members. As verbalization develops, encourage the child to give a simple analysis of what was presented. For example, after telling the fable of the Three Little Pigs you can ask the child, “What was the story about? What materials would you use to build a house and why?” The parent must be patient and ask age-appropriate questions. The atmosphere of their time spent together should be non-threatening and enjoyable.
After the age of six, life-protecting skills can be introduced, such as the dangers of addiction, how to manage relationships between friends, how to handle discrimination and prejudice, what to do when bullied, sexually molested, and so forth. The information should be repeated and reinforced as the child matures. Some topics may be uncomfortable to discuss and can be tabled to a future time if need be.
For a child from the ages of six to 11, it is easier to convey the necessary feelings and attitudes about a particular subject. An adolescent child may be less prone to have an in-depth discussion with the parent, especially if the teen is rebellious. Parents may initiate discussions on their own, doing basic research beforehand so as to have the correct information.
If giving important life-saving information to our children saves anyone from addiction, physical and sexual abuse, discrimination, bullying, and decreases the number of teenage pregnancies, then the art of parenting will have taken an important step forward and will place our children on the path of achieving a successful and rewarding life.Melvin S. Rosh, MD FAAP www.RewardingLifeInc@gmail.com.