Balancing work and family life poses huge challenges for many working parents. Grandparents and domestic helpers are often heavily relied upon for childcare while parents are juggling their home life with busy careers. In today’s society, it is common for parents to use material goods as a substitute for the quality parent-child bonding time they have lost. A lack of proper parenting and home education eventually results in children who are overly dependent, have low emotional intelligence and are vulnerable to adversity. So, the question is – what makes a qualified parent? And more importantly, how do you become one?
Material goods are never the solution to parental alienation
Today, long hours and pressure at work are common predicaments faced by most working parents. We’re seeing an increasing reliance on grandparents, domestic helpers or even private tutors helping with childcare and home education. Guilt-ridden parents then spend a fortune on treats for their children as a form of “compensation”.
However, “too busy with work” is never an acceptable excuse for not spending time with, or properly raising, your children. No parents should underestimate the importance of the role they play in a child’s growth, as well as the impact of parental education on their kids’ future. Any problem in a parent-child relationship arising from this misconception is no laughing matter, and it is definitely not something that can be fixed by material goods.
Excessive love for your children could be harmful
There is nothing wrong with having expectations of your children – it only becomes problematic when parents start to see things only from their own perspective. Is crying always an act of disobedience? Do grades necessarily reflect intelligence? No matter what the answers are, these are not effective ways to measure a child’s true potential. To be able to weather future storms and overcome life challenges, a child should possess some basic qualities, such as creativity, social/interpersonal skills and the ability to take care of themselves.
In a traditional family where the mother is the primary caregiver, children often feel more secure in their mother’s love and care, but over-protecting your children could also have a damaging impact on your kids. On the other hand, although the father usually shoulders the responsibility of financially supporting the family, this does not exempt him from his duty to take care of his children.
Tips for effective parenting
When a child with a difficult temperament is emotionally volatile, it’s easy for the parents to lose control and start yelling. What the parents should do is to acknowledge the child’s feelings and respond accordingly. In other words, be your child’s listener and let them know that you will always be there for him/her. You may not realise it at first but this gives your child the best comfort they could ask for.
Mothers who are considerate and attentive are often better at helping their children develop empathy, so that they are able to walk in other people’s shoes and solve the problems at hand with heightened interpersonal skills. Letting go at the right time is the first step to help your children develop into caring individuals who are able to take care of themselves and fully reach their potential in life.
That said, it doesn’t mean a father’s role is in any way dispensable. Before the age of six, children are encouraged to interact with the outside world and develop their corresponding gender identities. Appropriate involvement of the father in any parent-child interaction can help children develop social cognition and people skills, and ensure their gender identities align with their biological sex. In addition, a father’s involvement in the family is conducive to maintaining harmony between the two parents, creating a perfect environment for the kids to grow up in.
“Invest” 60 minutes a day to get to know your kids
The Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF1 encourages at least one hour of “play time” with your children each day. This is the time to leave your work behind, put down your mobile phone and engage in parent-child interaction, such as playing games or simply reading with them.
Through these valuable parent-child experiences, parents can learn more about their kids’ personalities and potential so that, when the time comes, they will know how to choose the right school for them – be it an academic school or a school that focuses more on personal development activities – instead of forcing them into elite schools just because they are prestigious. The bottom line is to choose a school that enables your children to reach their full potential
Most parents regret not having spent enough time with their children during the early years, but it doesn’t make them bad parents. Start today and make a difference! Take better care of your family by properly planning and managing your insurance, financials and family assets. It’s not easy balancing work and family, but how well you manage this can make a huge difference to your relationship with your family.
- Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF Newsletter ISSUE 34
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