10 top parenting tips by Paul Lawrence

Let’s face it, there is no magic bullet to stopping the violence on the streets. There is no single programme or organisation capable of reversing the current state of affairs in the short term, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying and trying to fleece you of your money or your time. And in some cases both.

It is my considered opinion that the long-term solution relies on the actions of the next generation of parents. I’m talking about the people who either have children under five, or are yet to have children. Ever since writing my first book, 101 Lessons I Taught My Son, I’ve been inundated with requests from parents for parenting tips. So, in light of recent events, here are my top 10 tips to ensure your child doesn’t make it onto London’s most wanted list. But, before I go into my list, here’s what qualifies me to make such a list – and why you should listen.

Firstly, and most importantly, I have a 23-year-old son. Born and raised in Lewisham. For the majority of his youth, he lived with his mother only. He has never been in trouble with the police – not even once. He doesn’t carry a knife and never has. He doesn’t smoke and never has. He loves music that I don’t understand, and hangs out all hours of the night with his mates – just like millions of others do. He’s been making his way home from school by himself since Year 7. In other words, he’s just a normal boy.

10 tips for parents

1. Think long and hard about who you are creating that child with
This might be the difference between raising your child alone, and having decent support. Remember, even having hubby under the same roof does not mean you’ll have help raising your kids. Mothers, what example of womanhood are you giving to your daughters, and fathers, what tone of manhood are you setting for your sons? Remember, present or absent parents are the first role model for their children.

2. Your child is your responsibility – not the government’s, not their school’s and not their grandparents’
You had them, so they are your responsibility. You are responsible for everything about them: who their friends are; what they eat; what they learn; how they dress, and how they behave. Controlling these things is the job you signed up for the moment you both decided to set certain wheels in motion. So stop making excuses, make some rules – and stick to them.

3. Be consistent from day one
Children are incredible creatures; they can adapt to almost any environment. As their parent, you get to decide what that environment will look like and, trust me, this has nothing to do with income. Rich or poor, if you set the right tone from day one, and hold fast throughout their childhood, very little will go wrong.

4. Be fair and explain your actions
Get into the habit of explaining things to your children. “Do it because I say so” is not good parenting, and you’ll find they’ll only do it when you are around. If you explain, they’ll learn how to self-parent when you’re not around, and even parent other children.

5. Get help
Over and over you’ve heard the phrase: ‘There is no parenting manual’. That’s entirely true. But what is also true is that other people have experiences which can help you. Associate yourself with people who have the type of parenting style you think creates great people. Join a community mentoring scheme and share best practice. If you are not careful, your       children will outnumber you, so start your own ‘gang’ and redress that balance.

6. Bedtime
In line with Tip 3, start the bedtime thing early and be consistent. No child under 14 needs to be out of their bed after 8pm. None. All school-aged children should be fast asleep by 10pm UNLESS they are studying for an exam, and even then, only because they cannot find a good place to study after school. So bedtime by 9pm during exam time. That said, no child of school age should be out of the house after 7pm, unless they are coming from a sanctioned after-school activity. As a parent, if this means shutting your house down to set the right example, then do so.

7. Eat together
This is a hard one, but the ROI is fantastic if you can pull it off. Daily mealtimes together may be unrealistic, but make it a thing on weekends. Dinnertime is a great time to catch up and give everyone – no matter their age – a chance to speak about their day. Oh, push the boat out and get a dining table. Sell a couple of the games consoles if you need to.

8. Recognise threat
Don’t walk around with your head in the clouds. If your gut doesn’t trust Billy’s new friend, terminate that relationship. If Billy’s behaviour suddenly changes, it’s time for an unscheduled room search. Question everything and trust nothing.

9. Set the example
From day one your child is watching you. What you do and what you do not do. Children always react to what they see. For some, the reaction could be to do the opposite, and for others, it could be to model the behaviour. Be very careful with this one, because it also extends to the adults you bring into their surroundings.

10. Check yourself
Now and then take a break and check yourself. Ask what are you doing to improve your community. Ask yourself that age-old question: “Am I a part of the solution or the problem?” Building the type of community you want your child to grow up in is an essential part of parenting. After all, ‘it takes a village…’

Those are my top 10 tips. To get a copy of my book, 101 Lessons I Taught My Son, visit www.101lessons.co.uk and order your copy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.