PARENTING is one of the hardest and most challenging jobs you will ever have, but also the most important and rewarding. You are rearing the next generation, I have yet to hear anyone tell me a job that is more important than that!
A good parent is someone who really tries to make decisions in the best interest of their child. This is not always easy. Try to remember there is no such thing as a ‘perfect parent’ or a ‘perfect child’ so be careful what you are striving for. Always remember the importance of your behaviour, your beliefs, your values, as you will always be your child’s number one role model.
Be a good role model
Whether you are talking about someone on the phone, killing a spider in the kitchen, not listening, judging someone, giving up on something, remember, you are your child’s number one role model so, the more you work on you, the better parent you can be.
Humans are programmed to copy others’ actions, understand them and incorporate them into our own. Children, in particular, watch and listen to everything you do and say. Be the person you want them to be, lead by example.
Love them and let them see that love
You cannot love your child too much, ever. Loving them cannot spoil them. When you choose to show your love by buying them material stuff, not setting boundaries, not expecting anything from them, then you have a problem. This is not love.
Love can be as simple as giving your child a tight hug, listening to them when they need you, spending quality time with them (even if it is only 15 minutes), having fun and enjoying each other, accepting them for who they are.
There are so many ways to show our kids love.
When our kids know we love them, truly love them as they are, we build a sense of calm, comfort, security and contentment around them. How beautiful is that.
Stick to your boundaries
‘I wish they cared enough to say no’, I have actually heard this more than once from teens I work with. Setting boundaries is a protective element of your parenting skills. We all need boundaries to function in a healthy way, what kind of a world would we live in without boundaries. It will always be harder to say ‘no’ then it will be to say ‘yes’. Be a parent first and foremost (not a friend), set the boundaries and stick to them.
Be fair, discuss them with your child and understand they will keep changing as your child grows. You cannot have the same boundaries for your 14 year old as you do for your 10 year old, this just does not work. Kids get used to boundaries if we stick to them, the usual issue is we get tired or frustrated and give in.
Babies are born with the ability to grow new brain connections every second of their lives. They are created through experiences which then create thoughts, actions and make up who we really are. What are you showing your kids through your actions; kindness, understanding, love, acceptance or cruelty, hate, judgement, negativity? Worth a thought for us all I think.
As a mum of four daughters I know how hard this can be. At times our kids have something important they want to say, something they may need to get off their chests - try not to interrupt them. Practice not speaking until they have stopped. Yes, I fully understand how difficult this can be but I can promise you it makes a huge difference to your relationship with your kids. Most of us will drop our advice in, without being asked, give our opinion before they have actually finished what they were saying - just practice staying silent until they are finished speaking.
I heard about active listening many years ago, (mostly while training for my job) but, I can honestly say it is one of the best things I have learnt. Do I always practice it? Absolutely not but I do hope I listen a lot better than I used to. “When people say to me, “What should I tell my daughter?’ I always say; The most important thing is to listen. This is how she learns she has something to say.
Sometimes we want to parent our kids differently to the way we were parented. Sometimes we bring the same things into parenting our kids that we really did not like when we were being parented. Give this one a little thought, most of our parents did the best they could with what they had, was this always what we needed or wanted? Possibly not.
Try taking the positives from the way you were parented and leave the rest behind. Don’t carry any negativity with you or you will pass it on to your kids. Be the change your kids need and the change you may need too.
You are not supposed to know it all
You cannot know it all, you are always learning as you go. I have found that my kids have taught me so much over the years as the world is always changing and I, at times, needed to see this change through their eyes.
Be open to seeing the world as your kids see it. Be kind to yourself, you can only do your best but your best is good enough.
Remember you cannot pour from an empty cup - look after yourself first and you will be in a much better position to parent your kids.
Finally, parent your child/children the way your believe is right for your family. Let the opinions of others (family members, friends, parents at the school gate etc) where they belong, at the front door. Look after your family the way your know is right for you. You do know best.
“Behind every child who believes in himself, is a parent who believed in him first.”
About the author: Eileen Keane Haly, is the Director of jumpstartyourconfidence.com and author of The Parent. Eileen is a qualified Parent Coach, Kids Confidence Coach and Teenage Mentor, with a background in child psychology. Contact: Eileenkeanehaly@gmail.com.
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