What I learned from saving the whales – 4 ways to invest in your children’s lives
In the early 70’s I had a teacher who was passionately political and passed that onto her class. During the ‘Save the whale’ campaign to stop commercial whaling in Australia, we raised money as a class. I passionately gave my pocket money and earnings from selling our chook eggs to neighbours and my side business of propagating African violets. The thermometer measuring our contribution grew. We played our part in ending whaling (albeit very small). The last commercial whaling station in Albany, Western Australia closed in 1978 (current day picture below).
Why am I telling you this? This week, just shy of four decades later, I reaped the benefit of my investment. My mum and step-dad have moved to a coastal town where you can watch whales on their migration route as well as the females who come into sheltered bays to calve. The increasing whale numbers are a tourist attraction. I have watched in awe these large, magnificent sea creatures frolic, body roll, tail slap, head lift and loaf. The cliff top crowd gasping with the wet blow noise (at least you can see the clifftop people in the photos below watching the whales).
I might not have learned much spelling that year at school, but I learnt about the environment and how we can make a difference. My investment as a child has paid off.
Raising kids is a bit like this – a long term investment that you don’t see and experience the benefit of for many years, even decades as you lay a foundation in your children’s lives.
Most parents want the best for their children and are willing to invest in them. As a single parent, the investment can be harder due to the increased demands on you and the difficulties experienced by single parent homes. Here’s my 4 ways to lay a foundation in your children. You may not see the result straight away – it’s a long-term investment.
Build the foundation of family.
You are a family. See yourselves as one. Do things as a family and ignore any value judgments from others. See blog 8 steps to see yourself as a family – not a broken one
Love your kids.
Understand the impact of single parenting on filling your children’s love tanks. Develop strategies to ensure their tanks are filled and learn about love languages. Practise this knowledge to ensure your kids are feeling your love. See blog and video: The dos and donts of love tank filling as a single parent and How to use the 5 love languages to better fill your child’s love tank
Identify and build their strengths.
Identify their strengths. What are they good at? What are their passions? What creates positive emotions and behaviour, rather than stressing them out? Click here to read about how strengths have 3 elements – performance, energy and use.
Once you know these, how can you help to develop and encourage your child to grow in them? My son struggled at school due to dyslexia but came alive when he was performing. So, we offset the negativity that classroom learning created with opportunities to learn acting, dance and singing. He is now pursuing these as a career. See resources below.
Meet their emotional needs.
Your children have emotional needs. If they went through the end of the relationship, like you, they will grieve and experience confusing emotions. It’s hard when you are gripped in your own emotional turmoil to see this and manage it. Recognise how your children express their emotions. My daughter expressed her thoughts and emotions fluently and often, with words. My son didn’t say much, but his behaviour was a barometer for his emotions. You may need to find expert help for your children. The next post on August 24th will explore this further. Help your children recover and grow through this experience.
In the day to day slog of parenting, it’s easy to only focus on the battles and making it to the end of each day with everyone intact! But with hindsight I can say that you are actually laying a foundation moment by moment that you and your children will reap the benefits from in later life. I have two amazing young adult children, pursuing their purpose in radically different areas. It has been so worth investing in them.
Putting legs on it
Use the table below to help you discover the areas you are doing well and where you can improve
|Build the foundation of family|
|Love your kids|
|Identify and build strengths|
|Meet emotional needs|
Identify one area to learn more about and action change.
Do you want more than just to survive single parenting? Do you want to be your best and flourish as a family? Click here for ‘Successful Single Parenting’ chapter
Child Magazine: 5 steps to strength based parenting
L Waters, ‘The value of strength-based parenting’, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2016, viewed 24 July 2017 https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/the-value-of-strength-based-parenting
N Richie, ‘5 steps to strength based parenting’, Child, 2016, viewed 24 July 2017, http://www.childmags.com.au/family/parenting/8899-parenting-strong