Parenting through paraphrasing

A real life parenting manual.

Children don’t come with instruction manuals, however if you thought about parenting using common paraphrases, you might be able to come up with some simple guidelines. According to the Encarta North American English Dictionary the definition of paraphrasing is: To restate something using other words, especially to make it simpler or shorter. It seems like life is full of paraphrases. So let’s look at how you can use some of these to relate it to parenting children.

Pick your battles. This one could apply to almost any age child, from toddler to teen. Throughout a child’s life, chances are they will need some form of correction and redirection. Many have a toddler that is adamant about the avoidance of vegetables. Try to avoid food fights. Teens who are trying to fit in can be famous for dressing weird or wearing their hair in what you might think is a bizarre style. You can let that one go, and concentrate on more serious safety issues, like avoiding drugs and alcohol use.

Children learn what they live. Everything you do gets recorded in your child’s brain. You are their favorite movie, story and interactive game. Behave in ways you want your children to behave, and they will copy you. More importantly, those behaviors will shape who they become as adults. So play the part of the kind, compassionate, smart and loving person you want your child to be.

Mind your manners. This one is similar to the one above. Except manners are about the way we talk to each other in families. Most parents want their children to respect them. Yet when we are commanding and demanding of children most of the time, and don’t take the time to use please and thank you along the way, we miss setting a powerful positive example. Children will act the way they are treated. It’s okay to say to your children, “please pick up your toys,” and “thank you for listening to me and doing the dishes.”

Life is short. Yes, it is, and in the blink of an eye, childhood is over. So, enjoy all the ups and downs of your child’s life. Rejoice in being able to be a part of raising a human being. Have fun as a family, and fill up your child’s memory bank with family traditions that they can pass onto their own children someday.

Ask an expert. If you have questions about parenting, Michigan State University Extension has answers. Visit, click on the button called, Ask the Expert, and submit your question. You should have an answer within 48 hours from any number of Extension Experts from around the country.

So see, children do come with a manual. The words of wisdom are out there in our culture of language and lore. Have some fun thinking of your own parenting paraphrases, and pass them onto others. All you have to do is “put your thinking cap on!”

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