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Possibilities Parenting

Carkhuff Thinking Systems

Importance Of Parenting
Parenting is one of the most important responsibilities that we assume in life. Many assume that parenting is learned naturally - that we learn this role as a result of our own formative experiences. It is interesting that a role this important isn't taught in a more formal setting. (1)

Roles Of Parenting
Parenting is a many-faceted role. As parents, we are physical caretakers, providers of basic needs, teachers, counselors, mentors, coaches and lifelong friends. Each of these roles is important, but perhaps one of the most important is the parental role of teacher.

Parents As Teachers
Parents are not only teachers: they are the most influential teachers their children will ever have. And they teach their children in many ways.

Teaching About The World
Children learn from the behavior and teaching of their parents. As parents, we teach them about the world - about the facts, concepts, and principles that we are learning ourselves. This type of teaching and learning requires that we spend quality time with our children and make ourselves available to them on a regular basis.

Providing Experiences and Relating
Children learn from the experiences provided by their parents. These experiences include nearly every aspect of home and family life. They learn how to respect authority and assume responsibility. They learn how to set goals and achieve them. They learn how to care for others and to value the things in life that have meaning, beauty and importance. Positive and enriching experiences help kids to grow, to develop and to love learning. Negative, retarding or destructive experiences cause kids to avoid and dislike learning.

Learning By Imitation
Children learn by imitating the behavior of their parents. When children imitate something, they practice what they see. If they see loving, constructive parents who reach out and support others, they will follow this example. If they see destructive parents who do not relate to or support others, they are likely to imitate that as well. The healthier and more facilitative we are, the healthier they will be. When we rate and evaluate our levels and our children's levels of functioning, we open the door to improving their health and wellbeing.

Learning By Reward
Last, children learn by being rewarded by their parents. Rewarding a child means praising and encouraging them and acknowledging their efforts and accomplishments. Kids tend to repeat the behaviors for which they are rewarded. They may also repeat the behaviors for which they are punished; hence, punishment may be fruitless. This means we need to learn to reward the behaviors that move our children in positive, growth-producing directions. We do this by being observant and rewarding their efforts and positive accomplishments.

New 3Rs Of Parenting
To summarize, you become a healthy and productive parent:

  • By relating to your children and to their experiences.
  • By rating their healthfulness and evaluating their needs and strengths.
  • By rewarding their growth, development, efforts, and accomplishments.

Relating… rating… rewarding… These are the new 3Rs of Possibilities Parenting. They will empower your children to become healthy and productive.

Remember that, as a parent:

  • You are your child's first teacher.
  • You may become their most powerful teacher.
  • You may be a lifelong teacher.

Supporting Other Teachers
Once your child enters school, there will be other teachers influencing and guiding them. You can join with these teachers by supporting their constructive efforts. You can relate to their experiences and help them become more effective. Together, you can encourage and free your children to learn at high levels.

Life Long Learning
Your children are yours forever. You will always be there for them. Therefore, you must help to empower and support them to become life-long learners.

(1) Adopted for the Web based on Andrew H. Griffin, The New Possibilities Parent - The New 3Rs skills kit. McLean, Virgnia: Carkhuff Thinking Systems, October 2000.


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