Friday, March 7, 2014

Paramount Parents

It's no secret that I'm a most emphatic supporter of the family. I have always been this way, from day one of my earliest memories. I will be shamelessly and unconditionally devoted to promoting happy families until my very last breath!

So today as I read an article that connected me to the UNICEF webpage, "Convention on the Rights of the Child," I had a mighty strong gut reaction. Here is a snippet of what they are promoting:
"Nearly 25 years ago, the world made a promise to children: that we would do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential...
"In spite of the overall gains, there are many children who have fallen even further behind. Old challenges have combined with new problems to deprive many children of their rights and the benefits of development.
"To meet these challenges, and to reach those children who are hardest to reach, we need new ways of thinking and new ways of doing."
I found it interesting that 192 countries have ratified the treaty, and The United States is not one of them.

Before I continue, please let me clarify that I am so very happy for people trying to help the children of the world! I absolutely high-five! their wonderful life-improving efforts. I want support and love for all of our Heavenly Father's (God's) beautiful babies! Oh, how I love babies! I want all babies/children to be loved, safe, protected, happy, healthy and intelligent. My list could go on and on!

Yet, in that same child-adoring breath, I'm frustrated with the seemingly lack of good parents. As a society, we need to find a better way to prepare the young people of our world to become paramount parents! (I'm not talking about the movie company, but the definition of paramount, which is supreme or very important!) Truly selfless, honest, kind, thoughtful, caring, loving, good parents are THE answer to all of the problems that UNICEF is trying to solve!

It's so important to raise children well, but what happens when those children are raised—what then? They've been taught many things, like how to take care of themselves, how to learn, how to work, how to be financially responsible, and hopefully how to serve others, but have those "saved" children been taught how to become good parents? It's worth serious consideration because those babies turn into the children who become the adults that are the parents who might end up neglecting the very babies they've created!

Parents need to be thinking of their children's best interests at all times—yes, it's an actual need for all children.

Before anyone gets all "Oh, what does she know?!", please let me state that I understand the need for self-care. I understand the value of making sure a mother or father is well-nourished—in every sense of the word. Whether spiritually, physically, mentally or emotionally, parents absolutely need to be well-cared for—just like the airlines clearly state in their flight-prep speeches they give before take-off. We parents must put on our own oxygen masks first, so we can attend to our children's oxygen-masks and other needs. If we're unconscious, we can't help at all!

That said, I've seen way too many parents more interested in promoting their own life agendas, than in taking good care of their children and it absolutely breaks my heart.

I admit, I've had my moments of "just a minute, honey," or "I'm almost done, just wait one more second," when I should have responded much more quickly. Does that mean we should spoil our children? Well, in terms of love, I don't think we can ever fully spoil our children!

*Seriously, we need to do everything within our power to help our children unequivocally understand that they are loved by their parents! There should be no room for doubt in this area.*

If we're talking about too much permissiveness, or things we give to our children, then, yes, we can absolutely spoil our children. Parents must learn to make the distinction between unconditional love and spoilage.

I could go on and on about this topic for hours. But I guess what it really comes down to is this:
Parents need to be the paramount figures in their child's life.

Parents need to constantly evaluate their lives and ask themselves, "Am I doing what is truly best for my child?"

And I fully understand that parents aren't perfect—we absolutely have our limitations! But we parents need to look very seriously at our souls and make sure that we are doing our utmost best for our children on a daily—and sometimes minute by minute—basis! If we don't do what is best for our children, who will?

Are we going to depend on some world government organization to parent our children for us?

Parents need to remember that childhood lasts such a brief period of time. When our babies are grown, there is no going back—there is no do-over in parenting!

I know many people lament the fact that they have regrets in their lives, but I wonder how many of us think about the consequences of our parenting? Will we endlessly replay the moments of our children's lives and say, "Oh, how I wish I would have done/said ______________, instead of ______________!"

There is no debate that every child was created through the egg of a woman and the sperm of a man, and grown inside the womb of its mother. Think about that amazing fact! There is literally no other way for a child to be born—except through a woman and a man. Because of that fact, each baby born is the "perfect" combination of two people. (Yes, I fully know that no one is perfect, but you know what I mean.) Thus, each and every baby deserves to be loved unconditionally by their mother and father until their dying day!

By the way, I continually wish, hope, and pray that every child is born out of love, but sadly, I know that that is not always the case. Thankfully, that scenario is the exception rather than the rule. Hopefully those "unwanted" children will be adopted by wonderful new parents who will love them as their own.

It's absolutely magical for me to see that my children resemble their father and me in so many ways. I believe strongly that this "Hey! You look like me!" situation we parents find ourselves in was our Heavenly Father's way to endear our children to us. I'm similarly fascinated to see parts of myself in my parents!

Again, my physical characteristics endear me to my parents. I look at my parents and know that it's literally because of them that I'm here and have this wonderful body. Even though I'm a grown woman, the love I have for my parents grows each and every time I think about how I actually came from them. Every child deserves to feel that way! :)

I truly believe if every parent actively chose to spend the necessary and quality time with their child, we would not see as many problems in our world. Yet, I have complete compassion and empathy for those parents who were mistreated during their formative years, as they might not know how to parent their own children. It's a vicious cycle that must be stopped. We can do better...we can be better parents! :)

So, yes, UNICEF has the right idea of helping all of the children in this world, but we parents must step up! No matter how much money we make, or how much time we have, or where we live, or what talents/disabilities we have, or what we believe, we parents need to do for our children what no other organization can do!

Yes, I typed other organization because I truly believe the family is the greatest organization! And parents are the presidents of that organization! :)

In a child's life, there is no adequate substitute for the love, care, concern and precious time of his or her parents. Of course many other people can love and help a child when there's no option of biological parental involvement, and I'm so grateful for those wonderful, caring, selfless souls, but I believe a child's ideal growing-up situation is to be nurtured by their own flesh and blood. It's those invisible DNA threads that secure children to their parents. We parents must never stop working to keep our invisible threads tightly connected to our babies until they are grown and ready to move-on in their lives. Then, we must do our best to help our children understand what needs to be done to raise their own children well! :)

This is my beloved family, circa 2006. They mean more to me than anything!

*Followup disclaimer: I understand that there are certain life situations that some parents find themselves in that are less than ideal. I understand that adoption is a wonderful option for parents who truly can't raise their precious children. I understand that adoption is a huge blessing to couples facing infertility. My post in no way diminishes what those parents—birth or adoptive—go through. I truly can't imagine the heartache involved on either side.

I also understand that there are some parents who are a danger to their children. Obviously, the safety of the child is of utmost importance.

I've simply written what I feel is the best option for children when parents are capable of raising their children. That said, I know there are always exceptions to the rule. Thankfully, children are resilient!

I'm not trying to make anyone feel badly. I'm just expressing my opinion as I see it, from my 14+ years of experience as a stay-at-home-mother, volunteering in countless school and church classrooms, and after nannying for four separate families—two full-time positions before marriage and two very part-time positions after my children were in school full-time. (Actually, in my last two part-time positions, I think I was more of a sitter than a nanny.)

Yet at the same time, if my words can help someone in this vast world choose to be a better parent, then that makes me super happy! :)

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