Wondering about the importance of the role of parents in the lives of their children?
I am a father of 3 amazing daughters ranging from age 1 to 12. I also work with hundreds of kids in my day job helping run a martial arts school.
I’ve struggled to know what to do at times and had to work hard to be a good dad.
But I’ve also wondered about the role of parents in a child’s life and if there might be things I’m unaware of. So I decided to dig a little deeper.
Here’s what I learned.
The role parents play in the lives of their kids is crucial! They learn by watching what we say and do. Thus, parents lay the groundwork for their kid’s emotional, cognitive, and physical development. We parents provide not only for their basic necessities, but also for helping build kid’s self-esteem and setting crucial boundaries that will guide them into adulthood.
But there’s a great deal more that goes into parenting and the crucial role parents play in the lives of their kids, so let’s dig in further.
How do parents affect child behavior?
Kids learn at a young age by watching what we do.
How we treat others and especially our spouse is critical. Everything you say and do is being watched, studied, and will eventually be mimicked.
Even as kids grow older and begin to understand some of your poor choices and know they are bad, they may still copy the behavior. Thus, children of smokers or drug addicts often take up the habits themselves despite knowing the dangers.
But even more than habits, if your child sees you berating waiters or flipping off bad drivers, guess what behaviors you are programming into them?
Thus, while we will never be perfect, we need to understand that the choice to be a parent means paying closer attention to our own flaws and behaviors and striving to do better.
When you make a mistake, own it. Apologize to your kids for it and explain why it was wrong. If your child hurts your feelings, however, that requires a much different response.
Kids WILL hurt our feelings from time to time. HOW we respond to that can make ALL the difference, so take a moment and review my recommended steps on what to do when Your Child Hurts Your Feelings.
What do parents provide?
All parents, like all people in general, are different.
That being said, there are some basic societal expectations that most of us would consider the bare minimum of what parents should be doing and providing for their kids, such as:
- Provide food and clothing
- Make a loving and stable home environment
- Put the kid’s needs first most of the time
- Provide physical affection to your kids
- Connect as a family
- Ensure your kids get a good education both at school and at home (it can’t all fall to the school)
What should parents do for their child?
Beyond those basic necessities, there are some great things parents can do to grow their children in a healthy way.
- Model the behavior you expect in them (no one likes a hypocrite)
- Set limits, boundaries, and guidelines for them
- Limit technology usage for them and you
- Have dinner together as often as possible (ideally at the dinner table with no electronics)
- Do things together as a family
- Also, have some times where one parent spends quality time with one child
- Don’t discipline out of anger and don’t do it in a way that makes your child afraid of you
You’ll notice I mentioned the use of technology twice there.
These days almost all kids LOVE smartphones, tablets, video games, and other devices. A little of that is fine, of course, so I’m not recommending you nix it altogether. But the overuse can have DEVASTATING effects.
So if you aren’t sure, take a moment and review the Benefits of Limiting Screen Time.
Do parents know what is best for their child?
“Best” is a pretty subjective term.
Parents are people. By our very nature, people are imperfect.
We make mistakes, have moments of weakness, can be selfish, have regrets, do stupid things, and sometimes do things to damage our relationships with others.
So all that is to say that while MANY, if not most parents genuinely have their child’s best interests at heart, they aren’t perfect and don’t have all the answers.
But I can say as a parent to 3 daughters, that while not perfect, my life experience and my wife’s life experience is significantly larger than my daughter’s.
So while they may not always agree with our choices, I can say we genuinely make our decisions under the guise of doing what’s best for our kids.
Every parent is different and many parenting experts disagree on what the best way to parent is.
That being said, there are some things that most experts agree on which can help you be a better parent. Learn more about Which Parenting Style is Preferred by Child Psychologists.
The crucial role of explaining “why” to kids
One thing that helps is to explain the “why” behind decisions that kid’s don’t agree with.
Explaining why you told them no:
- Shows them you respect them enough to explain yourself (because I said so is the worst answer on the planet)
- Helps them understand why the decision was made
- Makes them less frustrated
- They may still disagree but it won’t likely negatively impact their opinion of you
Taking the time to explain “why” is one of things that authoritative parents do.
The authoritative parenting style (not to be confused with the fear-based authoritarian style) gives clear boundaries, structure, and guidelines in a loving way.
Check out all the Examples of Authoritative Parents do and see why many experts think it’s the best way to parent.
Why parents are important in our life?
Ultimately parents SHOULD be the most important people in their kid’s lives.
That being said, I know from personal experience that’s not always the case. In my own life, I grew up with an Alcoholic Father. I never doubted his love for me, but it certainly complicated my and my brother’s childhood.
But for MANY kids, parents play an incredibly vital role in their development and well-being. This is due to:
- Parents are your safety net for when life lets you down
- They are your first and best teachers
- They love you unconditionally
- They champion you and lift you up
- They sacrificed for your benefit
These days, with the divorce rate as high as it is, some kids sadly don’t live in a 2 parent household. That’s not to make single parents feel bad; I grew up with a single mom and am divorced myself.
But it’s undeniable that kids just do better in life with 2 parents fully involved in their life. So even in the face of divorce, don’t ever forget the Benefits of Father Involvement.
Even in a reduced capacity, kids need both parents actively involved and if we need to sacrifice to make that happen or put aside differences with our ex, then that’s what needs to happen.
Do all parents love their child?
Sadly no. Not all parents love their child or are even fully capable of love.
Parents, as I mentioned above, are just people. As people, we are inherently flawed and sometimes damaged from our own childhoods.
While it’s possible for anyone to overcome anything with time, effort, focus, and help, not all damaged people will want to change or even recognize the need. Some of those people become parents themselves.
For some of us damaged people, becoming a parent brings out the best in us, and helps get us on track with being the person we were truly meant to be.
But that isn’t always the case.
Sometimes parents don’t even love themselves and thus, aren’t even capable of really loving another.
The good news is that anyone can change at any time. We can make the choice today to be a better parent tomorrow.
There’s a lot that goes into being a good parent, so whether father or mother, I highly recommend you take a moment and check out my post on the 23 top Qualities of a Good Father.
None of us are born knowing how to be a good parent, but the good news is that countless parents before us have made a lot of mistakes and figured a lot of it out for us if we just listen.
Did I cover all your questions about the role of parents in a child’s life?
In this post, I took an in-depth look into the different types of parents and how they parent their kids.
We examined some of the basic things parents should be providing their kids, and why parents are crucial for a child’s development.
Specifically, we examined the role of parents in a child’s life. None of us parents are perfect. The best we can hope for is to keep trying, keep learning, and to not make the same mistakes twice.
What is your biggest parenting struggle?
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