What Parents Say

As your children grow, how can you help them to learn the value of obedience? How can you impart practical skills as they continue on the path to adulthood? Note what some parents from around the world have said.

SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC SKILLS

“When we eat together and discuss our day, each child learns how to listen. When they see Mum and Dad listening patiently, it builds up their respect for one another and for themselves.”​—Richard, Britain.

“It is heartwarming to watch our children treat each other respectfully and to see them sort out their differences without our intervention. They also communicate confidently with adults.”​—John, South Africa.

“I’m not perfect, and at times I unintentionally hurt my children’s feelings. When that happens, it’s very important for me to apologize for my mistake.”​—Janelle, Australia.

“We train our children to do practical chores around the home. Teaching them to work for the benefit of others helps the family run smoothly and peacefully and gives our children a sense of accomplishment.”​—Clive, Australia.

“It is not easy, but it is vital to teach them how to understand, respect, and forgive one another.”​—Yuko, Japan.

HYGIENE AND HEALTH

“When our children were young, we taught them to bathe themselves and made it fun by using soap made into figurines, shampoo featuring a cartoon character, and sponges shaped like little animals.”​—Edgar, Mexico.

“When we lived where there was no tap water, I always made sure that there was soap and a container of water in a convenient location so that we could wash our hands as we came into the house.”​—Endurance, Nigeria.

“We give the children healthful meals every day, and we explain why a balanced diet is essential. The children are curious about the various ingredients that go into different dishes, so I have them help me prepare meals. The time we spend together doing that also encourages communication.”​—Sandra, Britain.

“Exercise is important, and as parents, we try to set a good example. Our children love it when we jog, swim, play tennis or basketball, or ride bicycles together as a family. They learn that exercise is not only important but also fun.”​—Keren, Australia.

“Time with their parents is what children need most. Nothing else can replace it​—not money, gifts, or trips. I only take morning jobs when the children are at school. Then, in the afternoon I can dedicate my time to them.”​—Romina, Italy.

 DISCIPLINE

“We have found that no single method of discipline is the best; it depends on the circumstance. Sometimes discipline involves having a heart-to-heart talk and at other times taking away a child’s privileges.”​—Ogbiti, Nigeria.

“We have our children repeat our instructions to make sure that they understand them. Then, we follow through. If we want our children to become responsive listeners, we have to do our part by enforcing the consequences if they disobey.”​—Clive, Australia.

“I have found it effective to bend down when I correct my children so that I am at their eye level. This helps me get their full attention. It also allows them to focus on my facial expression, which can convey as much as my words.”​—Jennifer, Australia.

“We try not to say to our children, ‘You never listen,’ even when it seems as if the accusation is justified. Also, we don’t reprimand our children in front of one another. We either whisper to them or take them aside so that we can talk to them privately.”​—Rudi, Mozambique.

“Children are very malleable, and they like to imitate others. Because of that, we need to counteract the corrupting influence of schoolmates, the media, and the social environment and help our children develop good morals that are based on wholesome principles. A good moral base helps them say no to anything that is harmful.”​—Grégoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Discipline needs to be firm, fair, and consistent. Children must understand the consequence of doing wrong and know that you mean what you say.”​—Owen, England.

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“Do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.”​—Colossians 3:21

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FAMILY PROFILE

Succeeding as a Single Parent

An interview with Lucinda Forster

What is most challenging for you as a single parent?

Simply being a parent is daunting, but as a single parent, I find it especially challenging to manage my time and energy. It takes time to instill principles and values and still have an opportunity to relax and laugh together. I often have to sacrifice my relaxation time to get household chores done.

How do you maintain good communication with your daughters?

After a divorce, children can feel insecure and angry. I find that when problems arise, eye contact and a calm tone of voice are essential. I wait until we are calm, and then I try to express my concern without making a big issue. I ask for their opinions, listen very carefully, and show that I really value their feelings. I take an interest in their schooling and commend them for what they do. We always eat meals together at the table in a calm and relaxed environment. I also constantly tell them how much I love them.

How do you administer discipline?

Children need definite boundaries, and consistency is essential. I try to be kind but firm. I have to reason with my children and explain why a particular behavior is wrong. I also try to draw them out before disciplining them, to determine why they behaved the way they did. If I am in the wrong​—for example, if I have misunderstood a situation—​I apologize.

How do you teach your children respect for others?

I remind them of what Jesus taught​—to treat others as you would like to be treated. (Luke 6:31) I encourage the girls to sort out their own issues as much as possible, and I teach them the value of responding mildly and kindly when they are upset.

What do you do for relaxation?

We can’t always afford to go away on vacation, so we look in newspapers for inexpensive activities. We go on picnics or take walks to see the plants growing in nurseries. We plant herbs in our garden and have fun selecting our own herbs for cooking. Recreation is important, even if we just spend time at a local park.

What joys and rewards have you experienced?

Living in a single-parent household has been difficult for us, but we have drawn closer to one another, and we have learned to appreciate the blessings we have. I love to see how each child’s personality is developing. At this age they want to spend time with me, and I cherish their company. They are perceptive of my moods and will sometimes just give me a hug to reassure me. Their expressions of love give me great joy. Most important, we have felt the love of a caring Creator who has helped us through many difficult situations. The Bible has given me strength to keep trying to be a good parent.​—Isaiah 41:13.

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Lucinda with her daughters, Brie and Shae