Introducing to you a series of small articles with the hope to support the fine tuning of parenting. Many of you are already aware of these points, but in our busy lives it is not always easy to apply each aspect. Enjoy!
TEACHING CHILDREN JOY–By Linda & Richard Eyre
When our children were born, we began to search for objectives. We began to ask what we most wanted for our children, what we wanted to give them. The trouble was, there were so many things: Love, security, confidence, creativity, friendliness, peace of mind, self-esteem, imagination, concern for others, individuality, a sense of service. The list kept getting longer.
The breakthrough occurred one evening when we had the opportunity to speak to a large group of parents. We handed out a slip of paper to each couple & asked them to write the ages of their children on one side. On the other side they were to write, in one word, the thing they would most like to give their children. We said, “If you had a one-word wish for your children, what would it be?”
The results were quite remarkable. Virtually all parents of preschoolers said the same thing. Parents of elementary-school-age children were also relatively unified, but in a different direction. Parents of teenagers had still another wish. For preschoolers, parents wanted happiness. For elementary-school-age children, parents hoped for responsibility. And for teenagers, most parents wished for more unselfishness, more service & less self-centeredness.
It was the beginning of our program of “parenting by objective.” We decided that we would consciously adopt the following objectives & sequence:
Ages 0-6: Teach our children joy.
Ages 4-12: Teach our children responsibility.
Ages 10-16: Teach our children service & empathy.
We knew there were overlaps. There were elements of responsibility within joy, & service within responsibility, but we felt that we needed a focus–a clear, strong, single goal to work on for each phase of a child’s growth.
This book, “Teaching children Joy,” was born of our efforts. Each chapter presents one particular “joy.”
One problem most parents face is a difficulty in measuring their success. Since they do not have specific goals for a “yardstick,” they not only do more reacting than acting, they end up measuring their success by the emotions of frustration & impatience that they often feel.
A parent with one basic objective each month, on the other hand, can look past the momentary crises that come to all families & can see the progress the children are making in the area of that monthly goal. This is why we recommend that you select one “joy” to focus on each month.