The ideal parent?

I have often heard people around me say “I’ll wait till I am ready to have kids”. If that is true, no one will have kids. One thing I can say for certain though, is that I have two and my eldest is now 6 years old but I am just about as clueless about being a good dad as day 1.

I want to be a “good dad”, but am I one? What are the standards of being one? There is hardly a day where I don’t end up asking myself some questions about it.

Am I too fierce or too lenient? Should I be fierce or lenient? Should I let them play today or not? To make them study or not to study? How much homework or practice is reasonable? Should I be draconian about not letting them eat candy or does a little not hurt? Must I make them finish their food? Make them sit at the table until the end of a meal or let them watch TV while eating? Do something for them or let them do that something by themselves? Be a tiger mom/dad or a kitty cat one?

Too many questions, big headache. Are there even supposed to be good answers? Perhaps there isn’t. Perhaps the real answer is just “it depends (on just about everything…)”. When it comes to parenting, one size definitely does not fit all. My two kids are as different as night and day. What works for one may not work for the other. I would say, at the very least, be consistent.

To decide what makes a good parent, I think the first step is to identify what role a parent is supposed to play in the life of his/her kids. At the basic level, this will be to equip the child with what is needed to survive in the world. The “ends” is simple. The “means”…not so much. And there are time limits for the clay hardens quickly.

If clay is an analogy for a growing child, the parents are its molds. We shape what they will become, for better or for worse. I’ll say an unmolded or under-molded child means a lazy parent. Not molded well means a lousy parent. And over-molding creates manufactured kids, indistinguishable from the next. Not too much, not too little, it must be just right. Easier said than done…

That said, what I believe in is that I am not here as an entertainer to my kids. I am not here to make them happy and cheerful all the time. I am not here to let them enjoy a life on a bed of de-thorned roses. I am here to ensure they acquire necessary life skills. I am here to ensure they do not grow up to be lazy bums. I am here to ensure they grow up to be contributing members of society. I am here to provide guidance to what they want to be in future. By all means necessary. Everything else is a privilege, not an entitlement.

This means I do not (always) agree with the “studies” that claim we must not be hard on our kids. If they do something really wrong, I’ll chew them out. If they want something, I’ll make them work for it. Watch TV? Time to play? Finish that homework first. Eat candy or dessert? Don’t even think about it if dinner isn’t done yet. If they get lazy, I’ll crack that whip in hand (metaphorically, if literal I’ll probably end up whipping myself by accident).

Will they turn out well? Only time has the answer, cliche but true. I will be judged by their achievements in life.

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