Resolutions for the New Year of school
Many of us think that the first of the calendar year is not always a practical time to implement New Year resolutions. Life's ebb and flow for families with children does not revolve around the New Year as much as it does at the beginning of the school year. The transitions that are associated with the beginning of school provide a good time to begin other new changes.
Many parents make time to evaluate family relationships while the new school year brings hope that the coming year will be better than the last despite the inertia of time and busyness of life.
Russel G Robertson of the Department of Family and Community Medicine, US Medical College of Wisconsin, makes the point that a surprising number of parents tend to look with resignation at what they believe to be the inevitability of child rearing distress, and set very low expectations for their relationships with their children. A kind of survivor mentality seems to set in that yields an unspoken covenant of non-interaction in the hopes of peaceful and unintruded co-existence. This is quite unnecessary.
Robertson advises that if, as a parent, you are willing to do a little reflection, and if, as a child, you think that things not only should be better, but could be better - then take a look at the list below. It is not all-inclusive, but is a good start and most importantly, everything is "do-able" now.
- Only make promises to your children that you will fulfil. Small promises kept are an investment in your child's trust in you. Promises not fulfilled are the same as lies told in advance.
- Never leave your children without your emotional support. If you do, they will justifiably nurture a fear of abandonment.
- Never stop asking your children about their day or what is going on in their lives, even if they respond with only a few words like nothing much or just silence. Don't get angry if the response is brief. If it is, ask them to tell you about one specific element of their day rather than posing an open-ended question.
- Look for opportunities to tell them that you love them (even if you are preoccupied with something else and are not feeling particularly affectionate at the time). When possible, embrace them. Do not be afraid of demonstrating affection to an adult child. This goes equally for mums and dads.
- Don't make small things more important than your children. Do not say shush if children want to talk during your favourite TV news or show, sporting event, or activities with your adult friends. These events can all wait - one need only look at photos from the past to know how quickly time (and opportunity) slips away.
- Praise them at every appropriate opportunity, even if this is not the way that you were raised.
- Share meals together without TV or music in the background.
- Do not make your adolescent children feel alone for extended periods of time.
- Do not serve alcohol (or tobacco) to underage teens. At the same time, make sure that you are modelling good behaviour regarding the use of alcohol.
- Create an environment in your home conducive to the completion of schoolwork, but compatible with school related activities.
- Be aware of how you interact with others, including your spouse or partner. Respect for others, and affectionate gestures where appropriate, serve as a good role model for children. Regardless, you are setting an example.
- Make wise media choices with regard to what you and your family watch on TV, the movies, and what you view on the Internet.
- Have a family-centered living area (family room) in your home. Family conversation should not be in competition with TV, DVDs, PC games, radio, etc.
These are seemingly small things. But tailoring your needs with the needs of your family with some discussion and changes ahead of time especially with older children, can assure bigger benefits than one might imagine.