Raising a healthy child can appear to be a daunting task. Parents worry about many issues such as: Is my child going to the right school? How much exercise versus TV time is right? Does my child have enough friends? How important are after-school activities, and how many is too many?
Allow me to comfort you: No one has ever sat in a counselor's office for any of these issues.
There are three essential ingredients for successful parenting:
Number one: Provide your child with food (hopefully, healthy choices) and shelter (hopefully, safe and warm in the winter). This one you already knew. Two and three may be less obvious.
Number two: Provide a role model of loving relationships.
When you walk through the door, does your mate's face light up and the house become brighter and more alive? Or does it feel to your mate and child as if the warden just came on the cellblock? When your friends or family come by, again, is the home even more loving and animated than before? This is how your child will learn about the meaning of relationships and what to look for when they are older and seek out friends and a life partner.
And number three: Consider how you talk about your job when you are home.
When you are talking about your day at work with your mate at the dinner table or on the phone to a friend, does the tone of your voice suggest you are describing the challenges with pride and enthusiasm, or does it sound like you are going off each morning to a world of frustration, aggravation and annoyance? If it's the latter, why would your children want to work hard in school to get to this world that beats you up every day? Come home with pride, and on the difficult days make your work sound like a Lord of the Rings adventure so your child will want to enter the world of work.
So, to sum it up: Love your partner, your family and your friends, and love your work. You will give your children the greatest gift possible. Simple, but not easy.
As the visionary George Lucas put it: "In almost everything you do, you teach, whether you are aware of it or not. Everyone teaches all the time."