Parenting can be easy as well as challenging, depending on the child and the circumstances. While it is helpful to follow some general guidelines, ultimately, one has no choice but to rely on their own common sense and judgment. 

Parenting is serious business and must not be taken lightly: if children are not raised properly, no society can even survive let alone thrive.

With the above backdrop, I have developed a few general guidelines on do’s and don’ts of parenting, based on the personal experiences of my parents, my siblings, and my own. These guidelines may or may not be mentioned in typical parenting books or magazines. Also, I must warn you that I am a 75 year old grandfather, therefore, folks of the younger generation may totally disagree with some of my ideas, which is fine with me. 

Do’s of Parenting

  • Have a child only if you are physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially ready to have one. An unwanted child can be disastrous not only for the child but for the entire family. 
  • Parenting is too crucial to be outsourced. At least one parent, and that parent doesn’t have to be the mother, must be fully responsible for taking care of the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of the children, if the other parent has a full time job.
  • There is an old axiom, “The best gift the parents can give to a child is a good marriage.”
  • Parents should discuss issues calmly, peacefully, and rationally. They should not indulge in heated discussions in front of children; it sets a bad example for them to emulate.
(Pixabay photo/Creative Commons license)
  • Be a good role model for children. 
  • Children must be treated with care, empathy, and compassion. They are miniature human beings, with feelings, sensitivity, and self-esteem. 
  • I have always been concerned about poorly run public schools, with their culture of drugs, violence, and bullying, and general lack of discipline. Therefore, I always preferred to send my children to private schools, although they are expensive. However, in the long term, this strategy paid off, because my children ended up in top colleges. 

No Child Will Exceed In Every Area

  • Children need to be exposed to various activities — sports, musical instruments, science camps, math clubs, coding classes, art classes, debate clubs — to determine their strengths and weaknesses. No child is going to excel in every area. But parents can determine where the child has a potential to excel. And those are the areas the child should focus on most.
  • Teach children to compete with no one but themselves and try to become the best versions of themselves.
  • Children need a lot of unconditional love, encouragement, and honest positive feedback in order to build their self-esteem.
  • When children make mistakes, try to listen to them patiently. Help them analyze the problem, take corrective actions to address it, and take preventive measures to prevent the recurrence of the problem. This would teach them to grow up to be responsible adults.
  • Put a limit on access to addictive activities like watching TV, playing video games, and interacting on social media.
  • Block children’s Internet access to pornography, hate speech, and other questionable material.
  • Tell the children that they are not accountable to anyone except to their parents. Hopefully, this will lessen the impact of peer pressure.

Don’ts of Parenting

  1. Don’t compare one child with one another: each child is unique, with one’s own aptitude, personality, and skill sets.
  2. Don’t take sides if there is a conflict among children. Instead, listen to all of them, and see if they can resolve their conflicts on their own. 
  3. Don’t criticize children in front of outsiders: that is detrimental to their self esteem. “Criticism in private and adulation in public” is always a good policy.
  4. Don’t get angry when children make honest mistakes. If you do, they would learn to lie and hide their problems from you. That just exacerbates the problems. 
  5. Under no circumstances should you resort to physical punishment, not even timeouts. Resorting to violence sends a wrong signal to the children. You are telling them that violence is an acceptable means to resolve conflicts. That is not the case in a civilized society.
  6. Never allow children to get into physical fights, for reasons stated in the previous section.

I hope the guidelines provided above would be of some help to at least some parents.

Pradeep Srivastava is a retired engineer, who currently lives in Albany, California. He has been writing for more than three decades. Column: A Grandpa’s Guide To Getting By - Our grandpa-in-residence...