Dear Future Child,
There are different approaches to parenting practiced today. I hope that the methods that I will use to raise you will help you become a better person in life and enable you to face any challenge that may come your way. Although I love my parents and appreciate all the efforts that they placed in raising me, there are some areas where a few improvements would have made life better. I hope that you will be able to enjoy the privilege of having both parents throughout your childhood and youth as my father died while I was six years. Because of his death, I missed having a father figure in my life and relied on my grandfather and other people for guidance. I also plan to offer you a loving home and remind you each day that I love you unconditionally. Although I do not plan to send you to boarding school as my mother did to me, I plan to offer you access to the best education that I will manage to sustain. If you will have siblings, I plan to treat each of you equally. Through the parenting principles that I will ***
- I vow to teach you to build relationships and positive friendships
What: I vow to help you build healthy relationships with your peers. I plan to teach you how to develop long-lasting friendships and relationships with people. While I will always be here for you as a parent, I would also like you to have good friends that you can rely on when you are in need.
Why: Friendship is an important aspect of a person’s social life as it helps people to build their confidence, develop positive behaviors, and reduces loneliness or risk of depression. Good relationships can have a positive impact on the child’s wellbeing and overall health. The relationships that children form at a young age influence their social lives and may reduce risk of mental health problems such as depression, social-anxiety, and the perception they have about themselves. Studies have shown that social relationships have a strong influence on people’s risks of death, which can be compared to the risks that alcohol consumption and smoking has on mortality rates (Mental Health Foundation). From my personal experience, having unhealthy relationships with other people will affects your psychological development. My grandparents and my mother did not get along well, which affected my perception of family relationships. As such, I vow to help you develop healthy relationships with other people and resolve conflicts or grudges that you may hold against others.
- I vow to teach you how to be emotionally intelligent
What: I want to raise you be emotionally intelligent, to have a heightened sense of self-awareness, to be sensitive to how others feel and have a better ability to manage distressing emotions. In order to raise you to achieve this we need to have open communication around the home to create an atmosphere of self-expression. I would teach you how to effectively manage your emotions and accommodate the emotions of others in order to build strong relationships with others.
Why: Research suggest that children that are well natured often have better control of their anxiety and often learn to calm down when upset (E.Garcia-Sanchoa, J.M.Salguerob and Fernandez-Berrocalc). I want to raise you to make sound decisions and not act on aggressive impulses when angry or upset. I want you to be able to express your feelings openly and avoid instances where when you may feel ignored or misunderstood.
- I vow to take you to a school that is closer to home
What: I vow to home school you during your early years of life and take you to a school that is closer to home. I will strive to offer you the best education. If you decide to go to a boarding school later in your high school years, I will support your decision.
While I was 12 years old, my mother took me to a boarding school in the United States. I travelled alone and was not accompanied by anyone else. I believe that being in a boarding school at such a young age affected my performance in school and might have affected my mental health status. I would not wish to make you feel isolated and lonely by taking you to a boarding school at such a young age. Boarding schools have been reported to expose young children to bullying and may affects their psychological development (Laiser and Makewa). It also robs them the opportunity to spend time with their parents and family members.
- I vow to prepare for you healthy meals and encourage you to practice good nutritional habits
What: I vow to promote healthy eating habits in our home by buying and preparing healthy foods. I believe that consuming nutritious foods supports proper growth and development. I also vow to encourage you to participate in physical activity to improve your health status.
Why: This vow is ties to my need to protect you and promote your well-being. As such, I vow to always prepare healthy meals at home, eat dinner with you, and exercise with you as much as possible. My grandmother was diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension at an early age in her life. Her illnesses were associated with her dietary patterns and lack of physical activity, which contributed to obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Research shows that prevention of childhood obesity through intake of healthy diets and involvement in exercise reduces risks of developing complication of obesity during adulthood (Pandita, Sharma and Pandita). My vow is also based on the need to reduce your risks of developing childhood obesity.
- Expect effort and not perfection (not put excessive pressure on you)
What: I vow not to put excessive pressure on you and to allow you to pursue a career of your choice. I also vow to love you unconditionally even when you face challenges or failures.
Why: I believe that putting pressure on children contributes to defiant behavior. While I was in boarding school, the strict rules that were implemented promoted rebellion and rudeness among some of the students. Excessive pressure makes children anxious about might make children stressed and might affect the child’s health and well-being. Children receiving excessive pressure from their parents have also been reported to experience more learning difficulties that their counterparts (Nauert). As such, I promise to encourage you and help you with the challenges you face without pressuring you to workhard.
- I vow to limit distraction while at home to ensure that we spend quality time together (limit tv watching and video games time, promote reading together)
What: I vow to ensure that the time we spend together at home is will be dedicated to bonding with you, helping you with your studies, and sharing memorable times together. I believe that people waste their time focusing on things such as video games and the television and forget about giving their attention to their loved ones. Spending too much time on smartphones and the television also interferes with children’s development (Solon). As such, I promise to put away my laptop and phone while at home and focus on bonding with you through reading books and playing games that develop your mental status such as scrabble.
Why: I vow to spend quality time with you while at home. As a child, before my father died he was a busy man who focused on his work more than his family. Although he worked so that he could provide for us, he died before I had the opportunity to interact with him and get to know him well. People never know when they will die. As such, I believe it is important to spend as much time with your loved ones as possible.
- I vow to teach you to develop self-compassion
What: I will teach you how to treat other people with kindness and being mindful of people’s feelings. I will also encourage you to share you toys with other children when playing, be fair when dealing with people and assist your friends when they have problems. As such, I will punish you for behaviors such as hitting other children, being rude to people, and not being mindful of others.
Why: I believe that your social skills are as important as your intellectual intelligence; I vow to help you develop compassion for others. Pediatric experts believe that children learn by example and are more likely to follow what their parents practice. As such, I vow to be a good example to you and treat those around me with compassion. I also plan to limit the time you spend watching the television or playing video games as these might expose you to the violence and bullying portrayed as entertainment (Ohtadmin). I will also monitor the time you spend with other children to ensure that you treat them with kindness and compassion.
- I vow to praise you for your hardwork when you accomplish your tasks
What: I want you to feel appreciated for your work and the effort you place both in your school assignment and in other tasks at home. I believe that this will help you to be more productive, improve your self-esteem, and perception about yourself. I also promise not to praise you too much as this could make you develop a narcissistic approach to life.
Why: I vow to acknowledge the help that you will give me at home and praise you for any achievements that you will accomplish in your life. I also promise not to praise you too much and to be honest with you. According to psychological research, praising children too much contributes to development of narcissistic behaviors, which might make them view themselves as being more important that those around them (Firestone). I will also point out your mistakes when you are wrong and correct you accordingly.
- I vow not to micromanage you and let you discover some of the things for yourself
What: I vow to let you make some decisions for yourself and not micromanage everything you will be doing. I believe that this will prepare you for the challenges in life that you will face as you grow up.
Why: Although as a parent I will be your guardian and protector, I vow to let you make some decisions for yourself. While I was growing up my mother and grandparents sent me to the United States alone. I was scared because I did not have any friends or other people I could relate to in the foreign country. If you get the opportunity to move to a different country for your studies, I vow not to force you to move to that country and to let you make that decision on your own. Aside from that, I also promise to let you make other critical decision by yourself while guiding you on necessary steps and let you discover things by yourself. According to clinical psychology, parent should differentiate between having a highly enriched interest in the growth and development of their children and micromanaging or overscheduling their children’s time as it can exhaust them and contribute to stress when they do not achieve their parents expectations (Feiler). As such, I vow to not micromanage your life and let you discover your interests and the things that challenge you by yourself.
- I vow to educate you about the risks of alcoholism, drug abuse, other behaviors common among youths that affects their health
What: I want you to grow up knowing that you can approach me and consult me about anything. As such, I promise to educate you about the risks of alcohol addiction and effects of drug abuse.
Why: I have seen many youths lose their lives to alcoholism and drug use. While the initial experience might be exhilarating and be based on peer pressure, addiction often ruins a person’s life as they become dependent on these substances. I promise to help you overcome peer pressure by educating you on positive values and morals. Approximately 2.5 million deaths each year are related to alcohol intake. Treating addiction is also costly (Chakravarthy, Shah and Lotfipour). As such, I promise not to assume that you are aware of the effects of alcohol and drug abuse and to discuss these topics with you openly.
I hope that through this list, I will be able to become a better parent to you and offer you more than I was privileged to get as a child. Although I might make mistakes, I trust that the joy of having you in my life will guide me on how to correct them. I would also like you to know that I might change my mind on some of the things on this list but all the decision that I make will be based on offering you the best that I can in this life. For all the moments that we will get to share together, I hope you will always remember that I love you unconditionally and that will never change.
Looking forward to meeting you in future
E.Garcia-Sanchoa, J.M.Salguerob and P. Fernandez-Berrocalc. “Relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Aggression: A systematic review.” Science Direct 19.5 (2014): 584-591. Accessed https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359178914000779
Feiler, Bruce. Overscheduled Children: How Big a Problem? 11 October 2013. Accessed <https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/fashion/over-scheduled-children-how-big-a-problem.html>.
Firestone, Lisa. Are We Overpraising Our Children? 10 December 2013. Accessed <https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201312/are-we-overpraising-our-children>.
Laiser, Sophie and Lazarus Ndiku Makewa. “The Influence of Boardign School to Young Children: A Case of Two Boarding Schools in Hai District Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.” International Journa od Education and Research (2016): 4(6). Accessed https://www.researchgate.net/publication/306841193_The_influence_of_boarding_school_to_young_children_A_case_of_two_boarding_schools_in_Hai_District_in_Kilimanjaro_Tanzania.
Mental Health Foundation. Relationships in the 21st Century: The Forgotten Foundation of Mental Health and Wellbeing. May 2016. Acessed https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/relationships-21st-century-forgotten-foundation-mental-health-and-wellbeing. 1 December 2018.
Nauert, Rick. Parents Should Not Put Too Much Pressure on Kids. 1 December 2016. Accessed https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/12/01/parents-should-not-put-too-much-pressure-on-kids/113269.html. 1 December 2018.
Ohtadmin. Experts say It’s Never too Early to Teach Compassion and Empathy to Children. 22 May 2017. Accesed https://www.journal-topics.com/articles/experts-say-its-never-too-early-to-teach-compassion-and-empathy-to-children/. 1 December 2018.
Pandita, Aakash, et al. “Childhood Obesity: Prevention is Better than Cure.” Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy (2016): 9: 83-89. Accessed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4801195/.
Solon, Olivia. Does Spending too much Time on Smartphones and Tablets Damage Kids Development? 6 June 2016. Accessed https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/does-spending-too-much-time-on-smartphones-and-tablets-damage-kids-development-a7067261.html. 1 December 2018.