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Parent or Friend?

manuelita otero


Parenting can be a little confusing to say the least, and all the information out there makes it even harder. The guidelines go from the very strict to the extremely relaxed, but sometimes too much information is more harmful than helpful. When I got pregnant with my first child I got the book What to expect when you’re expecting. I read the first pages full of excitement, but after some days I got too busy and couldn’t continue. That was the first and last book on parenting I have ever read. One and a half years later, two babies and a relocation to Australia set the tone… no time for reading about trending parenting advice. We did it our way, which turned out great! Are my children perfect? No, and that’s ok because that was never the intention. They are wonderful young adults and I am so proud of them. The journey has been unbelievable and I have loved every minute of it.

Parenting is no easy task, but you don’t need to make it harder than it has to be. You may feel pressure from every side, worried that you may not be doing everything you are supposed to, when in reality you should be enjoying it as the treasure it is. There is no perfect method. Like everything, parenting takes a lot of love and a lot of patience.  Here are some thoughts about my parenting experience:

-Children need limits. They can’t do whatever they want whenever they want. If they don’t learn limits at home where will they? Online? Their friends? Society? Don’t be afraid to set limits.

-Children need to hear “no” once in a while. They can’t have everything they want because everything they want may not be what they should have and even if what they want is good for them, they need to develop persistence, discipline, and learn to work for what they believe in. Taking things for granted is a great danger.   

-Sometimes children have to do what they don’t want to do, and that’s ok. They may not want to wash dishes, visit an elderly family member, stay off their phone during dinner, but that is just too bad, because sometimes we all do what we don’t want to do because we know it is for the greater good.

-Children need to see you do what you are telling them to do. They need to learn manners by watching you, they need to speak properly by hearing how you speak and how you treat others. They are watching every move you make.

-Children need schedules; they need to learn how to create habits and how to organize their time. They learn that at home from the limits you set from the time they are young.

-Children need to explore their talents, know what their passions are and learn to develop them. They need to share their gifts and feel happy being who they are and that starts at home. They need your support.

-Children need to know they are loved no matter what. They need to know that even when they mess up you love them, that way they will open up and speak to you about tough things. They need your guidance even if they don’t think they do.  

So, should we be friends or parents? How about both? Be the friend who is honest, who can say things as they are. Be the friend who tells the truth, who is always available without judgement, but who is willing to guide and correct. Be the parent who is not expecting a perfect child, who is willing to listen to different points of view and different perspectives, who has rules and lovingly enforces them. Be a leader, an example, be vulnerable, and be strong, but above everything,  be you because your child doesn’t need the latest parenting trend, he or she needs you.     

Manuelita @manuelitaotero