Ever ponder what you’d do different if you had a chance to do it all over again as a parent, now that you are older and wiser?
Hindsight is the only time most of us will truly experience 20/20 vision.
Pre-birth babies spend nine warm months in a cozy environment only to be suddenly thrust into the world of air conditioning, bright light, a cacophony of sounds and to make it worse, a whack on the butt. Now, my child would enter the world in a tub of warm water in dim light, without harsh sounds, and immediately placed upon his/her mothers chest after birth.
I would play recordings of Mozart sonatas softly in the background of his/her room, to present soothing sounds of perfect melody, give the baby a sense of order and instill a love of music.
I would try talking to my child in adult tones, and depart from the goochy goo so many of us introduce as “communications.” Parents often mimic the baby, instead of teaching the baby to mimic us.
I would start introducing the hazards of today’s world before the child ever stepped foot in first grade. He/she would know, in simple terms, the horrors of drugs and alcohol abuse. Indoctrinated at an early age about shunning peer pressure, those values would be and fixated long he/she steps into a middle school.
I would introduce healthy and moral-minded celebrities, besides Mom and Dad, as role models for my child. Tiger Woods instead of Dennis Rodman. Celine Dion instead of Britney Spears. Athletes who cheat, movie stars who cheat, and people who lie, use drugs and cannot speak without using profanity would be off limits to my child, as long as I had the controls.
I would curb, or stop, my own negative habits, like smoking, and drinking to excess, because I would know I am a role model with a powerful influence on my child.
My child would witness his/her parent’s work ethic. Whether it be maintaining the home or working at a job, the child would learn the difference between achievement and non-achievement.
We would share at least one meal a day, in unison, at the table. If people are too busy for any other time to meet and talk, the dinner table offers a forum for togetherness. Dinners while glued to a television set, where no one talks to each other, would be prohibited.
I would limit television throughout the early growing up years. Too many parents, in my opinion, use television as an electronic baby sitter. I would strongly monitor everything that the child watches to ensure good health of mind and morals.
No television in the child’s bedroom until it reaches middle teens. But I’d surround the room with books.
I would read more to my child, and teach him/her that reading is wonderful.
It is important that a growing child have access to a computer, if nothing else, but to utilize for education and school assignments. However, for his/her protection, Internet would not be available in the child’s private bedroom until after the age of eighteen. A family computer with Internet would be set up in a common area, which is not private.
Material objects would take second or third place behind activity and accomplishment. As the child gets older, more joy would be stressed about giving instead of receiving, especially at holiday celebrations.
At an early age, I’d do all I could to help the child learn a second language, preferably Spanish or French which are the international languages.
The proverbial dog would wag the tail. I would tell, not ask, the child what we’re having for lunch or dinner. I would tell, not ask, the child that he/she is going to learn to play the piano, or take art lessons, or play sports, or help mom or dad around the house.
I would do as much listening as speaking, including rather than excluding, stroking rather than criticizing, and do more to develop self-esteem.
As the child grows, he/she would learn that work brings positive rewards in many forms. He/she would learn that there is nothing free in the adult world, and it’s good to earn money — even around the house — because it develops appreciation for the dollar.
Love and loyalty supercedes selfishness and ego. He/she would learn how important it is to be there for others in the tough times, as well as the good times.
I’d help my child learn a hobby or special interest that will stick with him/her throughout life. If someone can do something really well, whether it be music, art, writing, history, collecting coins, making model cars, whatever, it will abate the loneliness of dark times.
In the teen years, I’d place more emphasis on education and sights toward the future.
I would teach my teenage kid to cope with adversity. Not every day will be a good day, and he/she would have to handle the tough times like a man or a woman, not a child.
I would also shed the role of authoritarian as soon as possible and try to become more of a mentor, guide, and above all, always letting my child know how much he/she is loved.
Finally, I would try and share these reflections with my adult child as he/she becomes a parent also.