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All Children and Youth Thrive!

To celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday May 8, OKN director, Elena DiBattista shares her thoughts on children and grandchildren, and the relationships that shape them as they grow up.

By Elena DiBattista,  Our Kids Network director

“What kind of adult do I want my child to be?” This is an important question for every mom, especially as our children are growing up. Do we want them to be happy, self-assured, creative, fun, and honest? Will they have solid, supportive relationships, a strong sense of belonging and be reliable, good people? Do we want them to have strong connections to family and friends, be independent, make solid decisions, and handle the bumps and barriers? These are questions that I asked myself when my eldest child was a toddler, and that have also helped me determine how to respond in the many situations and scenarios that involved parenting my children.

I’ve asked myself, “Do I ‘just do it for them’ or encourage them to ‘do it themselves’?, Do I respond with a quick no, or encourage her to convince me why a young teen should be allowed to stay out until 1 a.m. at an unsupervised party?, Should I intervene in an argument between brother and sister, or let them work it out themselves?” And I often wondered, “What will they learn from how I respond?” Even when I was not at my best and did not respond well, I remembered that modelling how to handle and learn from “less than perfect behaviour” is as important as those rare moments of perfection.

I am the proud mom of three grown children and “Nana” to a wonderful, young grandson. As his Nana, I have the privilege of watching my eldest child parent him, and my other two adult children as role models and mentors to their young nephew. I watch them as they determine what they feel is important for him. Most importantly, I see them developing strong, meaningful relationships with him so that he knows that there are many people in his life who think he is terrific, and will be there for him no matter what.

“What kind of adult do I want my child to be?” That question also became important when I facilitated parenting workshops and groups in my work. It was a question I often asked the parents, and the answers were surprisingly consistent over many scenarios. Some were single parents; there were two parent families; new immigrant families; families living in poverty; or families having experienced violence, but everyone had the same relationship-centred dreams and aspirations for their children. Every parent wanted to raise a child to be a happy, connected, responsible adult. Rich, powerful, “best at” only came up as an afterthought. And it did not matter which group I asked, the answers were always the same.

So this Mother’s Day (and every day), celebrate all you do to encourage those important dreams, goals and wishes that you have for your sons and daughters. Revel in the all-important cuddle and hug; the quiet talk over a cup of hot chocolate; reading a book together; cutting up vegetables together for dinner; the negotiation over when to be home at night; and the beautiful artwork made just for you. In those moments, you are shaping the answer to your question “What kind of adult do I want my child to be?”
Happy Mother’s Day!

Simple acts make a big difference! Click here for some simple ways to support and nurture your children every day.

Adults shape the way infants and young children think, feel and act.There is no right or wrong way, but being intentional about it will build great relationships with children. This  video, Family Relationships Matter: The First Six Years, focuses on five essential actions central to positive child development: Express Care; Challenge Growth; Provide Support; Share Power and Expand Possibilities. In the video, seven families show these strategies in their own unique ways.