THE PARENT AS LEADER by Barry Jackson

However successful we are in other areas of life, nothing makes us feel more inadequate than the feeling that we don’t measure up as parents. No feeling is more wretched than the feeling that “I’m just a bad parent.” Talking with a lot of Mums, and having been married to the mother of my own children for nearly 35 years, convinces me that such guilt trips are even more of a Mum thing!


The moment you bring a child into the world, you are a leader. Why do I say this? Because you are going to be the greatest influence on that child’s development. If you’re not, you ought to be. If someone else has a greater influence on how your child turns out, you’re storing up problems for yourself. If someone else earns more of your child’s respect than you do, you’re going to find that very distressing.

Parenting is such a vast subject that I’m going to concentrate on sharing what I consider to be three of the aspects of bringing up children over which we parents really agonise.

1. I just want my children to be happy.

2. I want my children to embrace my values but I’m afraid that if I impose them, my children will end up rebelling against them.

3. My biggest fear is that, when I get things wrong, my children will think I don’t love them.

1/ From an early age, a child needs to be exposed to as many contrasting stimuli as possible. Take them to the seaside, to castles and museums. Introduce them to live theatre and music. Take them to sporting events. This will develop a mind-set that the world is an exciting place, full of wonder and opportunity.

A child will soon let you know what excites and inspires her. Whatever gets your children excited, encourage them in every way you can. Nothing affirms a child quite like encouragement. Do you remember how important it was for you to feel that your parents were proud of you?

2/ Your children are never going to admire you if they have no idea what you stand for. Teenage rebellion is stressful for us parents; but it’s a necessary part of testing alternatives. If your values are sound, they will return to them in early adulthood. Among your values, include respect for different points of view. A difference of opinion need not result in conflict unless you allow that to happen.

3/ Children know instinctively when they are loved unconditionally, but don’t confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. Children love to live up to the principle that belonging to a family means being devoted to one another no matter what.

Finally, remember that there is no mistake from which you, your partner or your children cannot recover as long as one of you is willing to say, “I’m sorry” and the other always responds with forgiveness. The capacity of young children to forgive Mum and Dad is nothing short of divine and will bring tears to your eyes.

Barry Jackson is the author of “Heretical Leadership” (£9.99 Ecademy Press) and the up-coming “Parent: You just became A Leader!”

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