Parenting is best learned by doing the job of parenting — through trial and error. It is the hope of the parent that errors are few and far between, because the consequences of parenting failure affect the child. Parenting requires getting to know your child and assisting them to become what is possible for them.
I have begun to walk with my daughter when I get home after work. It is a good time. I learn so much about her and she learns about me. We talk, we laugh and catch up on the day’s activities. I believe in being outside, because in these spaces, our minds are free from clutter and pressure. The two of us are going through changes: she as an almost teen, me almost in hot flashes. Being in her presence, and she in mine, has created comfortable space for honest communication.
Some people believe that children are born leaders, and some believe that leadership comes over time and through experiences. I think it is a combination of both. Looking on the playground, one sees the differences in children. You can immediately pick out the child who wants to be the boss, the child who is shy, the child who is the thinker, the child who others like to be around — and the child who is really in charge. This child possesses an ease about him or her that can be felt by others on the playground. This is the leader. What parents and the world do to children like this can affect where their natural leadership ability will take them. It could take them as far as the White House — or to the back alleys of Nowhere-land. The decision and choices are, at some point, up to them.
Children are born without a manual. They have to learn to communicate with their parents, and their parents must learn to communicate effectively with them. Parents should always be teaching. When our children are infants, we should speak to them and touch them constantly. This way, our children become comfortable with our voice, our touch and our smell. They learn. As our children’s bodies and mind expand, so too must we. We must listen, we must observe and we must be vigilant to hear what our children are saying.
At the end of the day, we are the parents. Our children will follow us when we lead with authority, kindness, expectation, discipline and consistency, with a bit of laughter thrown in to take the edge off.
• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears monthly in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.