Tuesday, 31 January 2017 07:46

Parenting 101: Back to Basics

Written by  Jessica Gibbs-Fernandez, Ph.D.
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Everyone seems to have an opinion about how to be a good parent. Books by experts and personal stories abound. You can find research testing a number of theories about different parenting styles showing the benefits and limitations of each one.  As much as the new parent educates him or herself, this information is of limited use until you deal with your own children, their personalities, and the other important part of the equation – the other parent’s own ideas. Children, families, and parents are unique, thus it is hard to have a recipe book on how to do this amazing job perfectly. However, parents need to keep in mind the general focus on their obligation and responsibility for their children’s spiritual growth, emotional and physical health, and ability to become good citizens of the world. But how?


These are very general ideas that are hard to define and put in practice on day-to-day living.  This is especially true when parents deal with their own set of challenges and stressors like financial problems, marital, mental health and emotional issues, lack of support system, etc. Additionally, parents deal with specific issues like the child’s eating habits, sleep, discipline, schooling, etc. Therefore, it might be important to go back to the basics and have a simple view of what a parent needs to focus on: needs and values. The rest will usually fall in place, especially when you trust God in the process. 


Matthew 6:34: So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


NEEDS: Parents must define and make sure that the fundamental needs are met for the child to thrive. Abraham Maslow in 1943 proposed Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The most fundamental level of needs are at the bottom starting with a) physiological needs, like shelter and food, b) safety, like personal, financial, health and illness, c) love and belonging, including the sense of family, friendship and intimacy, d) esteem needs come from feeling valued, important and respected, and finally to e) self-actualization, the process of the individual fulfilling his or her full potential. One cannot focus or fulfill the upper level needs until the lower ones are met.


Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it.


VALUES: Values are essential in parenting. They are the beliefs of what is important, what has worth, and / or what influences self and others. Values define, guide and impact behaviors, attitude, and goals of humans in general. Parenting requires defining, teaching, modeling, clarifying and guiding the values you want your children to live by. These will ultimately steer and define whether the children can strive toward the pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy pyramid of self-actualization.


Therefore, parents need to start by defining – and, if there is another parent or caretaker at home, outline together – the values you would like to live by and instill in your child or children. Not only talk about the values, but model, practice, and correct yourselves. Find moments to teach life lessons according to your values. Be intentional.


Here are just a few to start with:

1. Respect

2. Compassion

3. Faithfulness

4. Friendship

5. Honor

6. Independence

7. Health

8. Justice

9. Love

10. Peacefulness

11. Reliability

12. Tolerance

13. Trust

14. Humility

15. Integrity

16. Modesty

17. Loyalty

18. Religion

19. Cleanliness

20. Knowledge

21. Patience

22. Morality

23. Service

24. Gratitude

25. Trust

26. Wealth

27. Joyfulness

28. Gentleness

29. Creativity

30. Excellence


Titus 2:7:Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity.


In conclusion, consider two basic imperatives in parenting 101: First, meet the child’s critical needs for love, support, and protection, and second, with personal and genuine integrity, select and intentionally model the long-term values that you pray your child will live by. 




Last modified on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 16:00
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