Webster's Dictionary defines backbone as "the foundation or most substantial or sturdiest part of something." Dr. Paul D. Slocumb, an educator, says the word backbone can also be used to describe the type of parenting style that society should use in rearing children.
To be a backbone parent means you have to use a rules-with-reason thinking mode. Just think about it in terms of the role our own backbone plays in our bodies. It supports our body frame as part of our skeletal system.
In the same way, we should be the support system for our children. We should be the ones they turn to for advice and help. We should be present in the mind and the body of their world.
The backbone has many vertebrae connected and working together. In the same way, parents should be a team knowledgeable about everything in their children's lives.
Though children need some privacy, almost every facet of their lives should be available to us so we are able to provide help when it's needed.
A backbone can also bend and move. Parents should move out of the way at times and allow children to make decisions and mistakes on their own and let life be the teacher.
Parents should also know when to move in, whether assistance is welcomed or not, for the wellbeing of their children.
We should be able to bend and not be rigid, because compromise is important in the relationship we have with our children. Those who can't bend on occasion will be like a tree in the wind, snapping and breaking when a storm comes.
A backbone is strong and keeps our body from falling apart. As a backbone parent, you must be strong.
A body without a backbone will not last in this world, and a parent without one will not fare well, either.
God gave you a backbone for a reason, so use it.
Cheryl Poole is an Aiken County teacher and mother.