Parenthood is a remarkable journey that many of us may embark on someday, and as teenagers, it’s essential to reflect on the profound impact parents have on our lives. On the occasion of the Global Day of Parents, we celebrate and honour the incredible dedication, love, and sacrifices that parents around the world make to nurture and support their children. While we may not be parents ourselves just yet, this day serves as a reminder to appreciate and understand the role parents play in shaping our lives and society as a whole. Let’s explore the significance of this special day and gain insights that can enhance our own relationships with our parents and prepare us for the future.
Understanding the Global Day of Parents:
The Global Day of Parents, observed annually on June 1st, is a United Nations initiative recognising parents’ critical role in raising children. It is a day to highlight the importance of parental guidance, support, and involvement in promoting the overall well-being and development of young individuals. This occasion serves as an opportunity to express gratitude to parents worldwide and create awareness about their challenges while inspiring conversations about the responsibilities and joys of parenthood.
The Profound Influence of Parents:
As teenagers, we are in a phase of discovering ourselves and navigating the complexities of life. It is during this time that the influence of parents becomes even more apparent. Their guidance, love, and support shape our values, beliefs, and aspirations. While we may occasionally have disagreements or misunderstandings, it is vital to recognise the intentions behind our parents’ actions and appreciate the sacrifices they make for our well-being.
Valuable Lessons from Parenthood:
Though we may not be parents, we can learn much from the experiences of those who have walked this path before us. Parents have gained wisdom through their journeys, and their insights can be invaluable in shaping our understanding of parenthood and preparing us for the future. In this article, we asked one of our team, Dorothy Dyer, to share her insights.
Having children brought me great joy – as well as many grey hairs! I loved being a parent, and seeing my small boys grow and develop. I also struggled, like many others, about what the ‘best’ way of parenting was, and spent a lot of time worrying over details.
My sons are now adults out in the world, and here is some advice I would want to give my younger self, and to other young parents out there:
- The most important one: your children are who they are. This has been something I have learnt over the years, after things like wasted music lessons and unread books, and seen my friends learn it too as our children grow into adults with different political and religious beliefs. You can help to guide your children, but you cannot make them into copies of you or who you want them to be. Love and appreciate them for what they are, and measure them on their own abilities and goals, not yours.
- Trust yourself and your own instincts, and do what seems right to you. When my children were young, especially when they were babies, I would get lots of often conflicting advice – only feed them every four hours/feed your babies on demand. I realised over the years that are many ways of parenting, just as there are many ways of being a friend. There is no one right ‘blueprint’. So those other perfect parents (or parents-in-law) who are full of advice – only take what makes sense to you and your style.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. I would spend far too much worrying about if they had eaten too much sugar, watched too much TV, or that they had stayed up too late, or their ears were dirty. Later I realised these things really didn’t matter in the long run… What was most important, really, was whether they were happy.
- It is the daily habits that are influential though, and actually, those will be based on your own choices and habits. Children will watch what you do, not what you say. So however much my husband lectured my children about how bad smoking was, the fact that he lit up himself every day meant that this lesson wasn’t learnt very well… and my one son remains a smoker. (Can I blame my husband? Well he certainly didn’t help in that regard..!)
- Listen to them – and encourage them to talk to you without judging what they say. Sometimes I would realise, when my sons were teens, and my life was busy, that I had hardly had a proper conversation with them for a while. I think I missed things that were worrying them at the time, because they would just say they were ‘fine’. Later I discovered all sorts of things that actually weren’t ‘fine’ from that time.
- Know that parenting doesn’t have an end date. My older son is turning 30. And although he is an independent adult, when he is suffering, or when things don’t go his way, it’s hard to see – even harder than when they are little, because at least then you could just kiss it all better!
My sons are now two lovely grown men – kind, compassionate, funny and clever. And I think it’s true to say that I learnt as much from bringing them up as they did from me. Perhaps that’s the key piece of advice too – to be open to learning and changing. Enjoy the journey!
How has the role of your parents or guardians influenced your journey as a teenager or young person and shaped your aspirations for the future?