I am a parent-to-be, please help . . .

Advice on raising children is plentiful in supply – grandparents, uncles, aunts, our neighbor, and even the lady behind us in line at the grocery store. How will you know who’s advice is the correct one for your situation?How do I get information about raising my children? We can read books, and there are many books on how to raise children and how to discipline them.

We can ask our parents, our friends, our physician, or even our neighbor. Discussion groups are also a way of getting information, and sharing experiences. You can organize a parent group, and invite an expert to talk to you about matters that may interest you.

One day when I marry, I want to have a happy family, a close and wonderful family . . .A family is a circle of people who love each other. Whatever form your family is - remember that it will be whatever you have the courage to make it! With wisdom, patience and love, you can create a place where your children can feel safe, secure, and free to grow and learn, and where they can become responsible, respectful, and resourceful people.

Remember . . .From the child’s earliest moments, even before they are born, the decisions we make as a parent will shape his or her future, and will determine who they will become. Someone who will make you proud, or will you regret that you have not done more, or have done things differently. Each action we take should nurture those qualities we want to encourage. And remember, mistakes are valuable opportunities to learn. Our love, our inner wisdom, and our common sense are valuable parental tools - use them!

Children do not always do what they are told, but they see what we do, and follow us. . .Your child will not only imitate you in pushing the vacuum, or washing the floors, or doing the dishes, they will also imitate the values you live by, such as honesty, kindness, and justice. Our actions are more effective than a thousand words!Let your home be a place where they are loved and respected. Let them know that choices have consequences, and that their home is a safe and wonderful place to be.

It is good to share the joys and duties of parenting . . .Love for your children requires that you set wise boundaries. Say ‘no’ when you must, and help them learn to live peacefully and respectfully in a world with other people. A child feels a wonderful sense of belonging and security when both parents take an active role in raising them. Setting boundaries . . .Children need secure loving boundaries in order to feel safe. Children will try to test these boundaries just to make sure they are firmly in place. Love for your children requires that you set wise boundaries. Say "no" when you must, and help them learn to live peacefully and respectfully in a world with other people.

Routine . . .Toddlers thrive on routine, consistency and encouragement. Routines can be created for every event that happens over and over: getting up, bedtime, dinne, shopping and so on. As soon as your child is old enough, let them help you create routine charts. Routine charts simply list sequences of events, to act as guidelines for common tasks. Routines are very important in a child's life.Mealtimes . . .Eating together as a family provides wonderful opportunities to teach children different skills, like good manners, how to share, how to communicate, how to listen. There are so many possibilities you can go on and on.Bedtime . . .Plan you day so that you have a calm and relaxing time with your child before bedtime. You can help him or her to get ready for the next day, you can read to them, sing to them, play a quiet game, try to calm them down and help them to go to bed as happy as they will wake up in the morning. This is a wonderful opportunity you have, while your children are still small.

Family meetings . . . Have you tried to have a family meeting? Try to have one at least once a week. With family meetings the possibilities are endless and children can learn so much. During family meetings you teach mutual respect, how to give compliments, acknowledgement and appreciations to all the members. Family meetings also teach logical consequences. They provide an opportunity to enhance family values and traditions, and much more. Parents can avoid most hassles with their children by suggesting a problem be put on the family meeting agenda to be solved. There are eight building blocks for effective family meetings.

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Self-esteem. . .Children learn about their own worth, and value during their early years. They observe the members of their family, and their interactions with one another. By the age of five a child has decided whether or not they are loved and wanted, smart or dumb, a joy or a nuisance.Should I stimulate my child?Ibuku says, in "Kindergarten is to late" . . .“The only purpose to early development is to educate a child to attain a flexible mind and a healthy body and to be bright and gentle.” . . . Any child provided he is given what he should be given at a proper stage in his life, should grow up with a bright mind and a solid character.” (1977 21, 22)

There are windows of opportunity (sensitive, or critical) early in a child’s life during which important learning takes place. If these windows are missed, it becomes much more difficult for a person to acquire those abilities.Did you know you can change your child biologically?Relationships are important . . .Babies and young children learn best in the context of relationships, and what they most need to learn in the first three years of life isn’t on flash cards or television, but how their parents and other caregivers relate to them – how they talk and play and nurture – is by far the most important factor in a baby or toddler’s life.

Children need to know that we belong and have significance . . .We all need to know that we belong, that we have a special place in life, and that we have value to those around us. Take time to simply love and enjoy your child. The quiet moments of wonder, the laughter and giggling, the delight we take in the special qualities, first words, and adorable actions of your child are not wasted time, but a precious investment in the future of your family. Enjoy your child, times speeds by all too quickly. The first three years . . .

No one is perfect – and we don’t need to be. Your child doesn’t require perfection; he only needs you to be warm, loving and aware of his needs. Be aware of these things and this knowledge will help you make choices and decisions that are in the best interest of your child. Remember, a child’s first three years last for the rest of his life!Albert D. Beaver in: “The Fine Art of Living Together”He sent questionnaires to 750 couples he had married. In answer to the question, “What in your judgment, is the greatest element for happiness in your home life?” The largest number replied that “It was religion lived daily in the home.”Children can sense the wonder of God’s world . . .Find some time to take a sleeping bag and lie with your family under God’s heaven. Speak of the stars and listen to the noises of nature, the wind whispering in the trees and small sounds of unseen creatures. Together with your children take a half hour each day at sundown, see how God paints and frames a new picture with beautiful colors.

Talk about how God lets the curtains of evening fall, while painting the afterglow of gold in the western windows. See how God lights the sky with the stars, visibly recreating the world during the darkness, making all creation ready of each new day.Children are learners, they learn everywhere and at all times . . .There is no place in life where the personal influence is stronger than in the family life. Each parent stand as a link in that chain, and it depends upon the influence, the sense of values, the spiritual tone that is passed on from one generation to the next. Parents need to cultivate their relationship with God and live in the joy of the Lord. If they give attention to keeping up their own spiritual and emotional health, they will influence their children for good.Am I giving too much to my child, and am I expecting too little in return?

Have you at one time given in to a child because you felt guilty about something you have not done for them?Are you a thankful person, and do you show gratitude to your children?It is so important to teach your children to be thankful. Thankful for all the little things they enjoy. This helps to develop a beautiful character. What about overprotecting a child? Never do something for your childern if they can do it for themselves. This can be worse than neglecting your children physically. How do we protect our kids, but not become overprotective?Spend time with your children . . .Say, “Please forgive me” when you need to.

Establish and maintain family rituals. Rituals are the glue of family life. Family meals together, birthdays and parties, Mother’s day and Father’s day celebrations, Sunday afternoon hike or picnics, visits to Grandparents etc.

What is the meaning of “discipline”? What kind of discipline style do you use? We as parents need to have a healthy attitude towards discipline. Before you discipline, ask yourself the question, does his or her behavior demand disciplining? Discipline with the one hand, and comfort with the other. Both parents are responsible for disciplining.When you discipline a child, he or she must understand why they are being disciplined. Don’t discipline when you are frustrated or mad, and be sure not to take it out on the child. Continued treats have no meaning. Consistency in discipline is very important.

Children learn responsibility when they have opportunities to learn in an atmosphere of kindness, firmness, dignity and respect. We need to provide these opportunities and create a warm atmosphere in the home. Do not raise your children in an atmosphere of blame, shame and pain.Remember to . . . Enjoy your child!