As far as responsible gigs go, being a parent is about as high as it goes because being responsible is pretty much our foremost duty. Yes, those in the fire service have to shoulder a lot of responsibility, as do paramedics, midwives, scuba diving instructors and mountain sherpas - but parenting tops them all. The issue is, well, there’s no guideline to parenting. There’s no walkthrough or blueprint for us to follow. It’s a journey almost completely founded on speculation, and that begs the question: what the heck does responsible parenting look like these days?
Obviously, we’re not going to pretend we are the Dalai Lama of the mommyhood-world because we’re not. All we can do is share our own lessons and whatnot with you, which could still be enough. So, without further ado, here is a checklist of things responsible parents do based entirely on our own personal and speculative experiences (both as parents and children).
1. Actions Are Way Louder Than Words
It’s pretty cliche right, saying actions speak louder than words. But it’s also been proved. That’s right. Studies clearly show children learn way more from observing and experiencing the world compared to when they are simply taught through words. That must mean responsible parenting is all about providing the right actions, examples and behaviours for their children to learn from. Forget about saying things like “will you be polite, just for once”, and start demonstrating a bit of politeness by being polite in your life, especially around your kids.
2. Enjoy Some Quality Time With Your Kids
Your kids are going to grow up faster than you can possibly grasp or imagine. But if there is one thing that beats spending loads of time with your kids, it’s spending quality time with your kids. It’s the idea of stealing an hour of undistracted, quality time with our little ones instead of being sat with them for five hours while doing the washing, staring at your phone and reading that book you always wanted to start. By doing this - spending quality time together - you’ll develop a much deeper bond, boost your feelings of love and start understanding your child more, and they will start getting you more too. It’s a wonderful thing to do.
3. Start Chit-Chatting Properly With Them
Forget what the King might have said, let’s have a little more conversation, please. Let’s start encouraging more dialogues with our kids, not just because it will make them feel like they are super-duper-important - enough to have their thoughts heard - but it will also help them hugely when it comes to self-expression, and that is of the highest importance. As everyone that has been an adult for more than six-minutes will admit (albeit through a whisper), almost every issue can be solved through the medium of open communication, which is where promoting open chit chats come in. If you want to be a more responsible parent, you need to start perfecting the art of listening to your kids - and we mean really listening - and use this to start relevant and useful discussions.
4. Get Your Future In Order A Bit More
We know this is pretty impossible and that there is no crystal ball that will help you predict what tomorrow will bring, nevermind your distant future (not that we know of anyway), but there are some things you can do to get your future in a bit more order. Start putting money aside each month, whether that be for an education fund or to help them get on the property ladder further down the line. Chat with some Wills and probate solicitors so that they are covered in anything does happen to you (which it will at some stage). It’s about thinking of their future, where the best neighbourhoods are, which have the best schools and lowest crime rates. It’s all that sort of stuff that will affect their future. It’s about exercising a dollop of forward-thinking because that’s what being responsible is.
5. Encourage More, Criticise Less
When it comes to parental responsibilities, of which there are billions, none is more important than instilling confidence in your little ones, something that can be easily achieved by encouraging them more, motivating them at every turn and highlighting what their strengths and talents are, whatever they might be. Flip that around and you’re staring at a life of constant criticism, something that will strip your child of their self-esteem quick than white spirit stripping paint. Not only that, but it could create this barrier between you, one of mistrust and secrets. So make sure you are doing all you can to build strong, confident and positive children by encouraging them and cheering on their good qualities.
6. Be A Solid Team, A Solid Couple
We came across a study the other day, or week, or month or whenever, that highlighted the ultra-importance of good relationship skills. They even had it as one of the top three most important responsibilities of a parent. Basically, the results of this study showed that those parents who enjoy a great relationship and are happy as a couple raise much happier children (weird that!). So, as responsible parents, it’s so important you act like happy, connected and madly in love couples because this will rub off on your kids like nothing else.
7. Moral Values Over Material Things
We live in a consumerist society. There is no denying that fact. But there are so many studies out there that prove moral values have a way bigger impression on children than material possessions. It’s about creating moments of magic instead of collecting more things. It’s about you placing a lot more significance on good old-fashioned values like honesty, kindness, compassion and integrity. It’s about realising materialistic things like grades, competition, expensive stuff and all that is not going to be as positive. Trust us: a good character will help your kid go a lot further than good grades and that’s because people would rather surround themselves with great personalities than anything else.