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Being a Good Parent

Ministry of Education Feature by Richard Francois

Arguably the most responsible job in the life of an adult with children is parenting. Regardless of the resulting situations for which one is faced with the responsibility of raising children, it cannot be denied that being a good parent remains one of the most important influences in a child’s life. Children look to their parents for love, guidance, support and security. And parents have an obligation to cater to the needs of the children for whom they are responsible, ensuring that their children are raised to be good, responsible young adults and upstanding law abiding citizens.

Parenting defined

Parenting plays a very important role in the lives of children. Though a highly contested concept, it can be argued that parenting is the methodology by which parents seek to provide – at their very best – a healthy conducive home environment for their children. The home environment in which children are raised ought to be favorable for the transfer of knowledge particularly as it relates to the conventional rules of life by which parents would want their children to live.

Parenting is leadership; leadership is influence.

According to the Encyclopedia of Psychology (2000), parenting practices around the world share three major goals: ensuring children’s health and safety, preparing children for life as productive adults and transmitting cultural values. A high-quality parent-child relationship is critical for healthy development.

The Ministry of Education – Guyana, would like to urge all parents to continue to work assiduously at becoming the best parents they can be to the children for whom they are responsible. It is understood that being a good parent is not easy; it is challenging and demands much sacrifice. The ministry understands these challenges, and empathizes with parents in their daily struggles to become better parents to their children.

What makes a good parent?

Here again a lot of contested views prevail regarding the definition of a good parent. Some mistakenly argue that a good parent is a person with good children or well behaved children, or bright children. Another school of thought posits that a good parent is one that provides for his or her children to the best of his or her ability, an enabling environment for growth, learning and maturity to take place.  

Dr. Sarah Chana Radcliffe who is a registered member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario wrote in an article published online in 2013 entitled What is a Good Parent”, that: “Children are a product of their genes, their communities, their schools, their culture, their family placement, their experiences and their parents’ guidance-among other factors. To claim credit or blame for a child’s outcome is presumptuous on the part of parents. What parents can claim credit or blame for, however, is their own behaviour.”

She went on to state that: “Parents can do a good or poor job of parenting which embodies socializing and educating their children and providing a healthy model for them to emulate. Whether children successfully integrate parental lessons is irrelevant to the definition of a good parent; what is relevant is that the parent has done his or her part in the teaching-modeling process…what matters is that the parent has done everything possible within his or her sphere of influence.”

In Guyana, the Honorable Minister of Education Ms. Priya Manickchand has been interacting recently with a number of parents at Parent Teachers Associations (PTA) meetings at schools across the country. At these gatherings, she would exhort parents to recognise that there are a number of very simple things they can do to affect the lives of their children in very positive ways.

“Simple things like turning off the television when your children are studying, or turning off the music system when it is study time can make a difference. Ensuring that you visit the school regularly and become more involved with the teachers and understand the progress your child is making at school, can have a positive impact in the development of your children,” the minister said recently a PTA meeting.

“Being a good parent is not defined by how rich you are and how many things you can buy for your child; it is about the personal effort you put into being a role model, a teacher, a spiritual leader to your child. To be able to inculcate discipline into the lives of your children, to teach them to share and to respect each other are in my humble opinion a few tenets of being a good parent.” the minister concluded.

The importance of good parenting    

According to a study conducted in the US, it was proffered that good parenting plays a bigger role in the academic success of a child than a good school. Though this position may seem controversial to some, there is some amount of fair logic to be understood.

In 2012 a feature in the online version of the Daily Mail pointed out that education researchers found that: “Youngsters do best when their parents help them with homework, emphasize the importance of education and attend school events.” It went on to state that; “Children with supportive parents – even if they attend poor quality schools – tend to outperform pupils at good schools whose parents take little interest in their education.”

The study was led by Dr. Toby Parcel who is a professor of sociology at North Carolina State University, and examined information on 10,585 teenagers drawn from 1,000 randomly selected secondary schools in the US. Dr. Parcel commenting on the findings of the study highlighted that: “While both school and family involvement are important, the role of family involvement is stronger when it comes to academic success. Our study shows that parents need to be aware of how important they are, and invest time in their children – checking homework, attending school events and letting children know school is important.”

The above examples exemplify the intrinsic importance of good parenting as it relates to the children and their school life, but good parenting extends far beyond school. A lot of the work of parenting takes place in the home. Good parenting is as much about the establishment of rules as it is about the enforcement of them. Children must be taught how to behave and must be disciplined in ways that promote their personality growth. Being a good parent cannot be taught. It is one of those features of life that is innately known. However there are many living examples of good parents in Guyana and the world at large.

There is no perfect parent. Striving to be that “perfect” parent will surely be an exercise in futility. Being a good parent means trying to figure out what your child needs at the moment, and what he or she will need to be prepared to leave home. Take the focus off of yourself and whether you are measuring up as a parent, and focus on your child’s immediate and future needs and the many creative ways you as a parent can meet those needs.