How to Be a Good Parent, Even if You Don’t Have Any Children!

mother's day joy!Do you live your life as an example to the children around you?

Are you really the sort of role model you want your children to emulate?

Children are not just our future – they are our present too. The way we bring them up and the example we set is going to dictate just what sort of human beings they become one day.

In my last post about being the change before it was too late, I mentioned my vision of creating a world where children no longer died of starvation.

Let’s face it – with all the challenges the world faces today, it can be really tough for children discovering themselves and finding their own path. In some parts of the world even getting through another day is a challenge.

And yet children always inspire me and give me a lot of hope for the future.

Some children are born fighters. 

Earlier this week, I had lunch with my friend Evelyne Brink. Her son Tuffel is now 6 months old and is truly a miracle baby – he was born without any bowels and still has a number of tubes sticking out of him and will continue to do so for a long time. He is truly blossoming and basking in all the love around him.

Yesterday, I met up with another friend Phil Bolton whose son is now 7 months old – and he very proudly showed me his son’s photo. Phil is a tall and rugged looking guy – and it was so moving and a bit amusing to see him gushing and going gaga over his son’s photo.

Hm. All these babies showing up in my life. Wonder what the Universe is trying to tell me!?

Having never had children myself, I cannot even begin to imagine the joy of parenthood that Evelyne, Phil and so many other friends are experiencing. But I have been blessed with 5 amazing nephews and a gorgeous niece – and of course many other children through my extended family

Can you believe I have 44 first cousins!?

There are also the 300+ children at Nirvana School – though my involvement with the school is a lot less nowadays, my heart and appreciation goes out to all the amazing people who continue to make this school the remarkable institution it is.

The children in my life not only continue to inspire me, but they keep me young at heart and make sure I never become stuffy and grown-up! As some friends will testify, I am actually a BIG kid myself. After all, why would you ever want to grow up anyway?

With all this children around us, the challenge we face is this – how can we set the right example for them?

To me, the answer is actually quite simple – live the best life you can – a life of integrity, endeavour and contribution.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? And maybe it is. But what about day to day parenting?

I recently did some work with Alyson Schafer and I took the opportunity to ask her some questions about parenting. She is Canada’s leading parenting expert, a TV personality and the best-selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth”, “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and “Ain’t Misbehavin”.

Alyson took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some pertinent questions about parenting.

Alyson’s Interview

1. Alyson, please explain a bit about who you are and what you do?

I am a psychotherapist by training, but I specialize parenting and dedicate my time speaking, writing, blogging and teaching about parenting rather than working clinically.

I am now a parenting expert – I help give parents VERY practical tools for solving common discipline issues.

2. How did you get started on this journey of helping parents be the best parents they can be?

In a way – I was born into the job.  I am the third generation in my family to be a parent educator and my parents taught parenting classes in the living room when I was growing up.

When I became a mom, I was still lost about how to raise a child and correct their misbehaviours.  I decided to pick up the book my parents had taught out of and had so many epiphanies that it was life transformation for me.

I love giving parents that same “aha” moment.

I actually have a science degree – but after becoming a mom, I realized that parent education was a WAY more valuable legacy to leave the world.

I really had something important to say and share to help families.  I would say – it’s my calling.  It’s not a job or a career
for me. It’s a life’s mission. What a great way to be in the service of mankind?

3. Can you share a couple of funny anecdotal stories which parents can relate to?

Oh I have lots of anecdotes, in fact, parents tell me I must be spying in their windows!

My books are chock full of examples that everyone thinks are “odd” because they don’t talk to other parents about their “ugly family business” so they are relieved to know that all families have the same experiences.

I used to teach nursery school.  I was able to get 18 OTHER people’s children ready for pick up calmly — but then I would walk across the hall to my OWN children’s class and when they would dawdle or not get ready, I would feel myself going ballistic!

It’s so much harder with your own children isn’t it?

4. What parenting advice would you offer someone like me who has no children but adores kids?

Keep loving them! Spoil them! That is the joy of being an aunt / uncle /cousin / grandparent. Leave the big discipline to the parents.  Just love them unconditionally.   Big Brothers Big Sister is a great organization you could look into.

There is so much to learn about human beings and how to get along with children by reading any of the books by Dr Alfred Adler.  Books like ” What Life Should Mean To You” or “Understanding Human Nature” will go far.

But if I had to teach ONE skill to Arvind, as a “non-parent”, I would say learn the difference between praise and encouragement and develop the skill of being an encourager to every child you meet.

mother's day joy!

5. What’s the best thing a parent can do for their child?

Learn how to be both FIRM and FRIENDLY at the same time:  meaning – love them unconditionally, and trust them enough to handle the limits and boundaries that a parent must set and uphold in a warm way.

Balance being FIRM with Being Friendly….   Loving with limits.

6. Conversely, what’s the worst thing a parent can do for their child?

Pampering your child is THE biggest mistake I see.   Pampering is when you try to arrange life so the child has no hardships.   It’s our job to PREPARE our children for life, not PROTECT them from it.

When we are over protective we leave our children weak and vulnerable psychologically.

When we “do for” our children or rescue them from the struggles of life, we weaken their ability to cope in the future.

7. What’s next for you in your career?

I have a 4th book that I am writing on siblings – probably the most common complaint I hear ( how do I make them stop fighting with one another!!!) and shortly I will have video parenting tips on my website that I hope is like Anne Landers meets Steve Jobs!

I hope to speak on every continent!  I have book number 4 on its way too. It’s about siblings.

8. Finally, any final parenting tips for our readers?

Take a parenting class.  That is my big agenda.   I want post natal parenting education to be as accepted as being the responsible thing a parent does.

Currently, people think something must be “wrong” if you take a class.  NOT SO!

Can’t make a class? Take one on line, or buy one of my books! It’s all going to make life better for you and your family!

Thanks Alyson!

So there you are, some quick ideas from one of the world’s leading parenting experts.

Now over to YOU – what parenting tips can you offer? Please do share in the comments below…

My Final Thoughts About Setting an Example for Children:-

Live your greatest life in honour of those who went before you.

Live your greatest life today and inspire the people around you, young and old.

Live your greatest life so that the legacy you create will positively impact the generations to come after you.

Let’s end with some words from Einstein about Gandhi and his legacy:-

“Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as Gandhi ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth“- Albert Einstein

More About Alyson Schafer:-

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s leading parenting experts.

She is the “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.

Alyson is the best-selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.

Images courtesy of D.A.K.Photography and Ctd 2005 

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  1. 🙂 My heart (and yes) brims with love for “TuffelMaster” – brings home the fact even more strongly that life is such a gift and how much we should treasure it by doing the best we can, for ourselves and for others! Thank you so much for sharing your friends, Arvind. I am delighted to see that Evelyne Brink is a Madonna lookalike – she looks amazing and sounds great too! One could easily do a “What Madonna can teach us about……..” post. 😀

    Raising children is joy combined with a little nervousness. For me, my Mom was my role model – she knew how to let go, yet have a fabulous emotional connection. One look from her and I’d know what she wants to say. She let me grow up to be very independent and before I knew it, I became the go-to with my family, my friends and my colleagues at work. I love it 😀 I must be the “type”. When it comes to talking to their kids, they trust me to achieve what they fear they cant.

    Yet, with Vidur, my Mom was protective. Not the clingy sort – but more about being concerned for his safety. I guess being Grandmother is a different story altogether. I feel we should constantly strive to build self-esteem and self-confidence in children, because that alone will prepare them to step forth with courage. As a parent, my goal is to nurture Vidur into a kind, loving, compassionate, honest, happy person. Everything else, so far, has been falling into place.

    I loved this post. Alyson’s advice is spot on. Sometimes, even knowing that we must be cruel to be kind, it is very very hard to do it. 🙂

    Thank you, Arvind. Hugs! Love, Vidya

    • Hi Vidya,
      Thanks for the kind words. I am reminded of Dr Adler’s quote ” its easier to fight for your principles than live by them”. It so much easier to say than do isn’t it? But – each day – if we support one another we will get more courageous.


  2. The ‘Tufflelmaster’ is beautiful Arvind. What a gorgeous little face. Thank you for sharing your friends, your perspective on children and this wonderful interview. Our kids truly are our heritage, and I loved this line from Alyson: ” It’s our job to PREPARE our children for life, not PROTECT them from it.”

    And my advice as a Mum is to love, love, love. We can never love enough.


  3. Cathy | Treatment Talk says

    Thank you for sharing the ‘Tufflelmaster’ and the wonderful interview. He is a doll! Alyson has great wisdom to share for any parent. I love the quotes and agree that it is essential that we teach our kids to be strong and ready for the hard times in life. They will come in one form or another. It is inspiring to read about a mom so dedicated to making the world a better place for children.

  4. Thanks Arvind for talking about us and thank you to the wonderful comments!!! I love the sentence that children are not only our future, they are our present. That really touched me. And it’s true- it’s not all about our personal blood relations, it’s about understanding that as we are connected, we are all children of this world and we are responsible for the children of this world.

  5. As you say, you don’t have to have kids to be a good parent. Do I think I’m a good role-model? No, I think I’m a terrible role-model. Do I think i’m a better than average role-model? Perhaps – but I really have a lot to work on 🙂

    Praise vs. encouragement. Hm… Isn’t the act of giving praise a form of encouragement? I’m not sure I understand the difference.

    • I think because you worry about being a good role model, and want to improve, you make you an excellent role model! Because that is all we can do, and it is always enough when you truly try, and truly care!

    • Amit, encouragement is when you boost people and egg them on when they are attempting something.

      Praise is what follows afterwards.

      So in a way they are very similar but subtly different. It’s all about being there for a child, no matter what and helping / coaxing / coaching/ encouraging / praising them as much as possible and as appropriate.

      Hope this clarifies it a bit for you:-)

  6. Hi Arvind and Alyson,

    I really enjoyed the interview and learnt a lot from it. In particular, I can see the importance of preparing children for life, rather than protecting them for it.

    As I was reading the interview, it reminded me of some friends of mine who are coaching your people from disadvantaged backgrounds. One of the things these young people crave is encouragement, which they don’t get at home. It just shows how important it is to encourage young people.

  7. I know what you mean. There are a lot of ways to be a good parent image to children without having your own. I also have a lot of nieces and nephews and I get a lot of practice from them.

  8. The Tuffelmaster story just shows how unconditional the love of parents could be for their children. A strong evidence of courage, love, faith and hope. Your post says it all – that children are God’s sent and they all deserve love and compassion. Better be prepared before having one! 🙂

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing what another educator and mom had to say. I agree with so much of it! Can’t wait to see the sibling book. I have my ideas on that as well. Alyson – checking out your website next!

    Thanks for a great interview, Arvind!

    • i know Betsy same in here i am happy that i can see that to hope she will have succes with the sibling book , Thanks for this great interview and that you share it with all of us !Best Regards !

  10. I wish you all the good in the world and Good Luck with sibling book !

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