New Internationalist

Let’s talk about parenting

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There are no hard and fast rules on parenting. Some parents are lucky enough to produce good and effective adults; some just wing it. But parenting expert Carrie Lupoli stresses that the important thing is to come up with a parenting goal.

Travelling without a destination isn’t always effective, after all, and sometimes you can miss out on many things, she said in a recent seminar called ‘The joy of learning’ held in Manila.

‘Do we have a goal? Do we know where we’re going? Or did we used to know where we wanted to go but now have no idea how to get there?’ she asked.

Lupoli assured us that parenting is challenging for everyone, even for mothers who already have many children or those who are parenting ‘experts’.

‘Parenting is as much a challenge for me as it is for you,’ she said.

But the good news is that with technology and the many modern advances in the world, parents have the toolbox of ideas and resources they need to raise effective adults. There is also immense joy in raising a little person: ‘Don’t miss out on it!’

In reality, the measure of success as parents is when the children grow into independent adults. Such independence, in turn, should lead them toward contentment in life, according to Lupoli. Each day is an opportunity to lead a child toward this goal.

‘We need to remember, daily, that each teachable moment and parenting decision we make is to ultimately lead them towards this target. The art is knowing and managing the balance of how we do this to ensure success. We only have one chance at this parenting thing so I, for one, am going to take every opportunity to reflect, learn and implement what thousands of years of experience have taught us.’

Lupoli said the first five years in a child’s life are very important, because the brain isn’t fully developed and so ‘is like software’.

‘Make everyday life experiences count. Children learn how to form healthy loving relationships. Bonding is necessary to help build connections. Spend time together and support them when they need it,’ Lupoli explained. ‘Adults should provide a safe, stable environment, comfort children in times of stress and celebrate their progress.’

Play is a good way to develop a child, said Lupoli, a mother to two girls.

‘Interactive, play-based learning can teach children the essential skills necessary for healthy brain development; no other approach, programme or system can make those same claims. Let’s think about this: when children play with each other the interactions, negotiation, sharing, turn-taking and leadership foundations are being set. Giving them real life opportunities to learn helps them to develop a better understanding of the world, thus allowing them natural, organic experiences to develop the skills essential in any independent, smart and successful adult.’

She recommends play-based learning initiated by the child, as this allows children to sort their feelings and handle difficult situations: ‘Creative play with art, dress up, make-believe, music and dance all teach children pivotal skills using their imagination and abstract thinking.’

In closing, Lupoli encouraged parents to make the most of their time with children.

Quoting from BusyMomsParenting.Com, Lupoli said, ‘childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at a pace that’s right to reach the individual child’.

Another parent, Mariel Uyquiengco, blogger and homeschool advocate, spoke in the same seminar, on the benefits of reading to one’s child.

Uyquiengco, who documents her home-schooling and parenting activities through The Learning Basket, a blog and online shop, said reading to children builds their listening skills, vocabulary and memory skills.

She also said that reading provides information about the world and becomes a jumping point for all kinds of learning.

As such, both Lupoli and Uyquiengco encourage parents to be proactive in raising their children. Childhood is fleeting – and it only happens once. 

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