Each year as your child gets older and makes independent decisions that are not in harmony with the principals you have taught the conscious parent asks themselves, “What can I do to help my child live the best life possible?” This question is pronounced at the first of each New Year. This is the time a parent pauses and thinks about the past year and anticipates the New Year with all the challenges that being a parent brings.
In this melancholy state parents list resolutions and goals that they hope will guide their decisions during the coming year. As you go about this process please consider some of the following ideas. Hopefully, they will make the process of parenting more fun as you face the challenges of the New Year.
1. Resolve to be a "good enough" parent. Don't waste your time and energy trying to be the "perfect" parent. In his book "The Good Enough Parent" the child psychiatrist, Bruno Bettelheim, tells us that if parent spend all their energy trying to be the perfect parent they do not have much energy left to be a human being. Your child needs a genuine "human being" with all the faults intact if they are going to recognize and accept their own imperfections.
2. Resolve to recognize that the growing up process takes a long time and kids do not gain wisdom overnight. With this thought in mind, resolve to enjoy the process of guiding your child to adulthood. Some skills you will need to accomplish this feat are as follows:
3. Resolve not to rescue your child when they have gotten themselves into a mess. Recognize that it is their problem and give them time and limited guidance to work it out. If you can do this they will learn from their mistakes rather than watch you solve their problem. (This is hard to do because you want to protect them from hurt. Don't give in to this urge.)
4. Resolve to be patient. If your child is having behavior problems, think about him or her as a 65 year old. Most behavior problems go away by the time a person is 65, so be patient with your child. If the problem is schoolwork, learn to say things like, "Hope you get your school work problems solved. But don't worry. If it takes you another year we'll still love you."
5. Resolve to remember that you are the adult and your child is the child. Just because your child is upset does not mean that you need to be upset. When your child is upset say to yourself. "Looks like Johnny has a problem." Say to Johnny, "I'd hate to be as upset as you are. When you calm yourself down let me know. I have some ideas that may be of help if you are interested."
6. Resolve to say, "What are you going to do about it?" when your child brings a problem to you. Avoid the statement; "Let me take care of this for you."
7. Resolve to take care of your child's parent. Find a way to relax and enjoy yourself so that you can maintain your health and thus be a better resource for your children.
8. Resolve to improve your relationship with your spouse. The process of parenting is very demanding. Build a team with your spouse so that when you are having difficulty he/she can support/relieve you. Improving and maintaining relationship will take time but it is worth it. Remember that the parenting process is a temporary job. Build that relationship with your spouse so that when the kids leave home you have an understanding partner to spend the winter of your life with.
9. Resolve to gain some new parenting skills. The more tools you have in the "parenting tool box" the more choices you have as a parent. Recognize that the task of parenting is no easy task. If you read a book or take a class it does not mean that you are a "bad" parent. It means just the opposite. In my experience, it is the parents who are working to do the best job they can who are trying to learn new ideas on how to parent.
10. Last but not least, resolve to build memories. If your house is messy or there is a job to be done and little Sarah wants to go biking with you, go biking. The children will not remember the messy house. They will not remember that you didn't get that job done. But they will remember the good times they had with you. If you can take the time to enjoy your children and do "fun things" with them you will find that the "rough" times you have with them will be easier. It seems that when children have "memories in the bank" that somehow they recognize our "real intent" when we need to discipline them.
In Summary: If you are making resolutions, make your main resolution one of patience as you raise your children. Recognize that growing up takes time. Parents do not have the capacity to "speed it up." Parents can learn to enjoy the process. Make a resolution to learn to enjoy the process.