You Are Your Child’s Teacher

Whatever your profession, says Lindsay Melluish, if you're a parent then you're also a teacher

One of our older children has passed his driving test!  As you may know, when driving tests are on the horizon, the pressure mounts and tension is in the air! Inevitably we, mum and dad, played our part in taking him out to practice and while in the early days this brought some stressful moments, with mum stamping her foot on an imaginary brake or shouting ‘stop!’ to prevent a potential collision, as the weeks went by his driving ability increased, the stress reduced and I found I was really enjoying the time in the passenger seat. Sometimes we talked, sometimes we were quiet, but either way I loved the fact that I was enabling him to learn a new skill and we were spending time together in the process.

And I don’t think it’s one-way. Funnily enough, when I asked one of our younger children one day what are the things I do that show him I love him, he could list a few different things but one I especially remember was, ‘When you teach me something new, like learning to cook.'  And a friend was telling me recently how she remembers how much she enjoyed time with her dad when he helped her with her music practice.

Time with children is something all parents are encouraged to have. Time together is what builds relationships, demonstrating love, care and affection. Time together allows for relaxation and fun, it enables memories to be built, relationships to be cemented.

When we think of time together, perhaps we think of going to the park, watching a movie, going out for a coffee or getting on the floor and building a huge Lego model. And your children will certainly remember those things. But something else they’ll remember is when you enabled them to do something they couldn’t otherwise do, when you took time to teach them a new skill; because everyone grows in confidence when they learn something new. 

And they’ll remember not just the skill they learnt but the person who taught it to them. I can remember all kinds of things I learnt and the people who taught them to me: I remember my big brother teaching me to play the guitar, I remember my grandma teaching me to use a sewing machine, I remember my mum teaching me to make sponge cakes. And I remember those people and the time they spent with me with absolute gratitude and fondness.

Plan your parenting

One of the roles a parent has is to guide and shape their child. And perhaps that can feel like one of the more onerous parts of our job as mum or dad, because sometimes it involves conflict and re-directing! But one way to guide and shape is to teach. And in the right atmosphere, teaching can be fun for everyone.

I wonder what are the things you’ve taught your child in the past? There are probably hundreds. If you listed them you’d probably be amazed and very encouraged. But thinking ahead, are there skills you have that you’d like to pass on and haven’t yet? I know I’ve wanted to teach my children to cook and probably haven’t managed it as well as I’d have liked, so I’m trying to make up for lost time.

Perhaps you could ask your children whether there are things they would like to learn and which you could teach them? It could be anything from tying their shoe laces to riding a bike to sewing on a button to cooking a roast lunch! And even if they can’t think of anything straight away, the very fact that you have had them in mind will probably help them see not just that you want to help them learn a new skill, but that you care so much about them that you want to put in the time to make it happen. And it occurs to me that it might make them more willing to assist us when we need the inevitable help on the computer or the new mobile phone!

So the driving test is over. And I’m ambivalent if I’m honest. I’m thrilled for him but I’ll miss the time we’ve spent together. I guess I’ll need to find a different way...

About Lindsay Melluish

Lindsay Melluish, together with her husband Mark, has written and pioneered the Family Time – Parenting Children course, which runs regularly in their own church and in churches throughout the UK and beyond. Family Time is a collection of courses for all parents. To find out more, go to: www.new-wine.org/familytime or www.stpaulsealing.com.  Lindsay is a regular contributor to Mothers' Union's Families First Magazine - the Christian lifestyle magazine for families