Although the focus of parenting articles normally is on what parents should do to assist their children with suggestions or ideas to use to be a more effective parent, very little time is spent discussing how an “effective” parent develops. This article is on how evolve into the most effective parent you can be.
The first thing an effective parent needs to do is to get rid of some ideas or platitudes that we pick up as we grow up. If you hang onto these stupid ideas they will handicap you as you try to become the best parent you can be. This is my list of stupid ideas you need to get rid
1. Raising kids is easy.
2. If my child makes bad decisions I must have done something wrong.
3. I have to be the perfect parent. If I am not perfect I will harm my child.
4. I work on being the best parent I can be for my child’s sake.
5. What the neighbors, the minister, the social worker, or my friends think is the truth.
6. If I shelter my kids from the rest of the world and teach them all by myself they will turn out better than other people’s kids.
7. I have to raise my kid the way my parents raised me. Because of them, I turned out ok.
8. I don’t need any church, group, or other people (including God) to help me raise my kid.
If you can recognize that all these ideas really are of little value then you are ready to make yourself into the best parent you can be. You do this by:
1. Recognizing that raising kids is hard. Once you recognize parenting is hard then you don’t get upset when it is not as easy as you thought it would be and you spend your time being creative and accepting the challenge that parenting brings rather than complaining because it isn’t as easy as you thought it was going to be.
2. Learning to be responsible for you own behavior. When (not if) your child makes bad decisions you spend little time blaming yourself and a lot of time deciding what you (not your child) will do to help your child decide that the decision he or she made is unwise, foolish, dangerous, or something to learn from. When you take responsibility for your own behavior and help your child to be responsible for his or her own behavior life is a lot easier.
3. Giving up the idea that you must be a perfect parent. Your child will not fall apart if you do the wrong thing. You are learning how to be a parent at the same time your child is learning how to be a kid. People who truly love each other readily forgive each other for mistakes made. The only way you or your child can grow is by making mistakes and learning from them.
4. Working on the best parent you can be for your sake not for your child’s sake. You can’t change you to a better you if you keep looking outside yourself or trying to decide if your ok by how well your served your child. You are ok if you are doing the best you can do to build you.
5. Becoming an expert on your kid. Others do not live with your child. Others do not love your child as much as you do. Recognize that you are the best judge of what is best for your child. Take the advice of others and then decide for yourself what you will do to help your child “grow up.”
6. Showing your child how to make it in an imperfect world. You have learned how to live with the problems that exist in our world today. Show your child by example how to face the trials, temptations, and injustices that exist in the world. You child will not need to experiment and learn the hard way if he or she watches you to get some ideas on how it is done.
7. Recognizing that we live in a new age and that the ways parents did it in the past may not work for you. Learn, study, pray, ask, and do whatever you have to do to keep a clear and creative mind open. Then do what you think is best, not necessarily what your parents would do.
8. Recognizing that you can’t do it alone. Take advantage of friends, relatives, the church, the community, and use the Guy Upstairs to help you raise your child (After all your child is God’s Child too.) You are going to need baby sitters, transportation, teachers, inspiration, etc. to make it through the trials of parenthood.
But most of all have fun making you into the kind of parent you want to be. If you kid decides to be an ingrate at least you will have constructed a good parent for him or her to benefit from if they so choose.