The basics of parenting are pretty simple…

Mother and son in carOne thing that is very apparent after more than 20 years of parent education is that there are lots of right ways to bring up kids. I know families who have done things completely differently from how I would do them and their kids are very happy and well-adjusted. I reckon there are just a few essentials to parenting and if you get them covered off, I think you can freestyle the rest and things will be just fine.

Let’s get it down to two basics – your kids feeling loved and feeling safe.

If this is happening, I think you have already got a pass mark as a parent. And since feeling safe usually comes from feeling loved, you could say that there really is only one parenting basic – making sure a child feels loved. (But I think that I’ll keep the safety thing in as a basic as well, as there are parents who love their kids to bits but allow too much chaos and conflict in their home life for kids to thrive).

Recently at a wedding, the bride’s father did a wonderful speech. While she was at University and away from home for the first time, she would call home homesick. He would ask her “Are you warm? Are you safe? Are you happy?” If she answered yes to the first two questions and hopefully the third he would know she was alright and it would put them both at ease.

By the way, please note that I didn’t say ‘loving your kids’ was the basic, I said that kids feel loved. I’m sure every parent loves their children, but things get in the way and the child doesn’t always actually feel that love. Maybe it is anger or discipline that is too harsh, maybe it is too much business in the home, perhaps a parent isn’t able to be with the child. Learning new and better ways to show love to your children should be a top task for parents.

But I don’t want to overemphasise the negatives. I want you to catch the positive message – that even with thousands of fantastic parenting books and websites that give good advice (including ours at Parenting Place!), the basics of parenting are simple. If you get love and safety right, it’s amazing how much else you can get ‘wrong’ and still give your kids a great childhood.


By John Cowan, The Parenting Place

Improving and equipping families to thrive.

Read more from John and The Parenting place here.