Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Key Strategies for Proactive Parenting! What Parents Need To Know and Do!!

Last blog, we started a conversation on Proactive Parenting!! What Parents Need To Know and Do!! Because April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, it is especially important to draw attention to our parenting, but as  parents and guardians, when we signed  up to have children or take custody of them we made a long term commitment that requires our best practices day in and day out! A significant responsibility in our parenting includes educating ourselves about social dangers such as child abuse and implementing effective strategies that will help to protect and prevent our children from being victimized. Before we discuss a few more key strategies for Proactive Parenting,  let's review from the previous blog the two Proactive Parenting Principles that we first must solidly integrate into our mindset and then apply to our parenting styles. Remember, these principles hold true regardless of the social danger, concern, or challenge.
PP #1 - The degree of access or exposure to anyone or consumption of anything is a predictor of the degree of consequence - positive or negative. 

PP #2 - The degree of innate trust ascribed to a closed system can be a reliable predictor of an abusive environment and/or where perpetrators carry out their dangerous agendas.


As we move on to key strategies for Proactive Parenting, parents and guardians, I want you to think back to the day of your child's first day of school, or day care, or time away from you.  I want you to think about your feelings on that day.  You were probably happy, teary-eyed, a little sad, and most likely worried - maybe even filled with anxiety!! You knew you had to let go, but at the same time you knew that your child was accustomed to your nurturing, loving, and protective care. And you wondered if your child would be safe in a new environment with unfamiliar individuals in charge. Given the myriad of social dangers in today's society and with the prevalence of child abuse, I believe that parents and guardians must navigate throughout their children's development with that same or increased vigilant commitment they naturally and willingly blended into their parenting when their children were entering that first environment away from home. I believe that to do less is to put our children in harm's way.

Let's take a look at a few key strategies for the on-going implementation of vigilant commitment into our Proactive Parenting.

  • Educate yourself and stay informed: Although child abuse is a difficult topic for all of us, we cannot turn away from it. Read about it, understand the warning signs or red flags of perpetrators, be able to recognize symptoms of victimization, and know how to help your child.  As I did last week, I will give you references at the end of the blog.  
  • Investigate, research, run background checks, and do your homework: Before you move into a neighborhood, before you enter your child into any day care, school, organization, etc., before your child goes alone anywhere - learn everything you can about this person or place and make sure you have reason and evidence to trust your decision.
  • Communicate with your children - age appropriately: I cannot stress this enough! If your children don't know what is bad or wrong or abusive behavior and if they are threatened by the perpetrators not to tell, how will they know what to do? There are excellent age appropriate materials available - get them now and start the conversation. Then, keep the conversation going!  See references below.
  • Get to know your children's real life neighborhood and their net neighborhood: Most parents or guardians know some of their children's friends. Get to know all of them.  Get to know their parents or whoever else is living in the home! Sadly, most parents do not know their children's net neighborhood. This is so important!  Don't assume they are safe, especially if you don't know where they are spending time and with whom! If you have not already done so, please get your family on a Family On-line Safety Agreement. This is absolutely mandatory.  
  • Monitor, supervise, and/or randomly check in on your children: When our children were little, we checked up on them constantly!  We didn't want them to get hurt! I believe we must continue to do so, especially if we have given or granted them a significant degree of access or freedom.  Parents often ask me, "Am I invading my children's privacy when I monitor what they are doing?" My short response is, "No, this is your responsibility - to protect them."  My longer response is, "If you have communicated to your children ahead of time what you expect of them and that you will be monitoring, or supervising, or checking in on those expectations, your children will  know that you care, and they will feel safer." Don't give in or give up, especially when your adolescents or teens are rolling their eyes or talking back! And, don't pull away from them; believe it or not, teens need you just as much now as they did when they were little!! Perhaps even more! They just have a different way of showing it!    
In closing, parents and guardians, contrary to what we often here from outside sources as well as from our own children...

          You have the opportunity to be the most significant influence on your children's lives. 

How you choose to parent them, how involved you decide to remain in their lives and for how long, and to what degree you maintain your vigilant commitment in support of their well-being  - all of these factors will be a strong contributor to their safe navigation through the social dangers of our time. Remember ~


     Proactive Parenting isn't about restricting our childrens' freedom,    
          It's about safe-guarding our kids as they experience what it means.       



References:

Nationally and internationally known advocates for child abuse prevention ~ 

Books by Angela Williams and Other Authors

Marie Waldrep and The Mighty Phoenix                                                                   



RAINN - Rape,Abuse, Incest National Network


Not Invisible (Advocates for our military active service members and veterans who are vitims of abuse.)

National Self Helpline - 877- 995 - 5246

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