Parenting is the process of caretaking and education through which you help your child grow from a dependent infant into an independent young adult. Caretaking is a matter of expressing love. Education is a matter of training. As a healthy parent, you must provide both love and training to raise a healthy child. Providing love alone or training alone is not enough. Training without love can become extremely oppressive, and love without training can become overindulgent. In either case, a “spoiled” child can result — a child who is spoiled for healthy relationships later on because he is too socially compliant or socially domineering.
Discipline is part of a parent's training responsibility. Your job is to help your child learn “right” beliefs and follow “right” behaviors in life through example and direction. The definition of “right” depends on the traditions and values you carry into parenthood from your own personal experiences. No two families subscribe to exactly the same definitions of “right.”
But starting out as a first-time parent can be a humbling experience. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by incompetence. “I'm responsible, but I don't know what to do!” “My child is crying, but I don't know what is wrong!” “I'm the adult, but I'm living on my child's schedule!” “I'm older and wiser, but my child is running the show!” The truth is, your children teach you how to parent as they grow. The truth is, parents are fast learners. The truth is, you know more than you think you do. The truth is, you will be able to figure out what you don't know at first.
Just to give you a headstart, however, here are six “A's” that most children want from their parents all through their growing up.
Attention — listening and noticing
Acceptance — understanding and interest
Approval — valuing and praise
Appreciation — acknowledgment and thanks
Affection — love through telling and through touch
Authority — rules and guidelines for living
Keep delivering these, and your parenting should be fine.