As a parent, you want to do what’s in the best interest of your children. Parents may look for “right” & “wrong” answers about parenting, but is there really a right way to parent?
Bette Davis, regarded as one of the most influential actresses of Hollywood, once said, “If your child has never hated you, you’ve never been a parent.” If you have a toddler who you’ve had to say no to touching a hot stove, you know what she means. In other words, being a parent doesn’t mean winning a popularity contest; it means being present for the good of a child.
An essential part of parenting is helping your child build healthy self-esteem & confidence so that they can become anything they set their minds on. Let’s explore the theories that have endured the test of time to allow for positive, loving, & effective parenting.
ALL CHILDREN ARE UNIQUE / What worked for your first child may not work for baby #2 or #3. In some ways, being a parent is reliving your childhood & recalling what helped you & what hindered you.
YOUR WORDS = YOUR CHILD’S INNER VOICE / Speak with respect & positivity, never lash out in anger. That said, toddlers & teens can fray your patience. Vent, but not on your child. Instead, go to parent groups, have play dates, talk to other mothers & fathers to share & laugh about the challenges you face.
UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR CHILD RESPONDS / Children respond to different parenting styles in different ways. For example, you may have been a bit overly protective of your firstborn – from homemade baby food to only buying interactive toys. With child #2, you may be less particular. Both children turn out fantastic & you begin to realize certain incidentals aren’t as critical as you thought. However, responding to each child as an individual is. Treating children with respect & allowing them to evolve into their own person is essential. It helps them explore themselves without judgment. Notice how they respond to music, movement, nature, reading a book together, & playing with others; this will help inform you of your child’s likes & gifts.
BE AS CONSISTENT AS POSSIBLE / Consistency helps children understand boundaries & feel safe. They learn that hitting is not okay & the consequence is a time out. When they lie, they know they breach your trust, & there’s an aftereffect. Conversely, praise & affirmations light up your child’s potential. When they hear & see positive results, they’re reinforced. As you & your children grow together, consistency helps them understand their environment & make sense of things they don’t yet comprehend.
DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION / Like all of us, children must learn by making mistakes. Have reasonable expectations & cultivate compassion. You can’t expect a 9-month-old to understand why you don’t want them to put everything under the sun in their mouth. Rather than overreacting or labeling your child, escort them through any rough waters. Your job as a parent is guiding them through varying terrain. Some phases are as easy as walking on a beautiful beach, others as difficult as walking through a desert without water. Allow your children (within the confines of safety, of course) to experience life & try out their newly learned skills. It’s through practice & patience they learn to master things. That said, you can encourage older children to be their best & be there to discuss when they are having a rough time.
COMMUNICATE / Spend time talking to your children & laugh with them. There’s no substitute for communication & spending quality time with your kids. It allows you to develop a relationship, a bond, & trust, so when you have to say no, (something all parents do), your children (eventually) realize it comes from a place of love. Don’t feel bad about saying no, explaining your rationale, & giving explanations that your child will understand. Maybe you can’t afford to give them something they want, seize the opportunity to have a conversation about money. Communication is critical to parenting. Keep an open mind without deviating from your standards.
The bottom line is families are made up of individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, & cultural influences. You are a wonderful blend. Try not to set limitations. Instead, allow them to grow in ways that may not interest you. You may be a businessperson, & your child is passionate about the arts or vice versa. Be kind to yourself. You’re going to blow it sometimes; it’s part of being human. Be okay with admitting when you are wrong; this is a powerful lesson for your children.
Above all, be loving, kind, & keep growing in your individual life as you parent. Children need you by their side to learn valuable tools about independence; This becomes vital as your children get older. Be okay with no right or wrong way to parent. Be present & open to change. Embrace the principles of being a positive & courageous parent who is doing their best to build a strong foundation for your child’s well-being.