Agrowing a child is a bit like making a feed: take a child, throw in a few ingredients, sweeten with niceness, pepper it with fun and use the tongue sparingly. Add a bit of heat so the pot is kept on the boil, but allow some pressure to be released occasionally.

Comedian Pio Terei, a spokesperson for the Parenting Place, had many little gems of wisdom about parenting, such as this one, when he visited Raglan last week to present The Parenting Show with Pio – Building Awesome Whānau.

His message to parents, both Māori and Pakeha, was to be firm, fair and friendly, to talk with and to listen to their children, and to fill their “emotional tanks” with smiles, touch, words, attention and loving care.

Pio discussed different types of parenting, such as the ‘parentus sergeant majorcus’ breed: the “bark and bite” type of parent who yelled, had lots of rules and punishments and whose catchcry was “because I said so”.

While this type of parenting appeared to keep children in line when they were younger, it ran the risk of those children later rebelling against such authoratarian rule, or the children thinking their opinion did not matter.

However, the ‘parentus jellyfish’ where nothing was ever the children’s fault and there were no boundaries was not the answer either as boundaries helped children know where they sat in the universe.
“Kids need boundaries. Even the tough little kids who think they don’t need boundaries – deep down they know there’s a big kid that cares about them,” Pio said.
‘Parentus backbonicus’ was the the happy medium, where parents were firm, fair and friendly, flexible and “didn’t sweat the small stuff”.

It was important for parents to choose the right time and the right language to “unpick” their children if there was a problem, and to be creative with the words they used so it was the actual problem, and not the child, that was attacked.

“I don’t like that expression, ‘harden up’. And if we tell our young men to harden up, they will snap. We need to tell them to smarten up,” he said.
Pio, a father of three sons, also had other advice for the 25-odd people who came to Raglan Area School last Thursday for the free presentation, which was hosted by Parent Works, Northern Social Workers in Schools, Raglan Area School and Te Uku schools.

“Fathers, you need to be the one that your daughter first falls in love with. You need to set the bar,” Pio said.

He advised mothers to not let their sons push them around: “If they’re going to push you around, then they’re going to push around the next wahine in their life, and that’s just not on.”
Pio also said it was good for parents to work on creating a good atmosphere in the home, peppering family life with fun as this was what children would later recall about their family.
“Just get creative and do something stupid,” he said.

Rachel Benn

The Parenting Place is running a six-session course for parents of 0-12 year-olds in Raglan, starting on Thursday, April 30. The cost is $75 each or $110 for a couple (subsidies available). For more information, phone Hine on 027-249-4197.

Rachel Benn