You can find a number of parenting schools and methods. Some promise to be efficient and quick, some advertise to be stress-free for everyone involved. Depending on what your current needs and struggles are, you may be attracted by different promises that stand behind them.
It is up to you as a parent to make research and discover what is suitable specifically for you and your family. But you can easily get lost coming across all the contradictory advice… Sleeping with children or not? Punishing teenagers or letting them experience natural consequences? Actively supporting schoolers or offering kind presence without engaging in their chores?
I do not want to offer you any ranking on which approach is the best. I want to propose criteria for reflection – how to define your parenting mission? Look at these hints, choose whatever suits you best, and be an explorer!
1. What will be the consequences of your parenting style in the long term?
Think about the long-term effects of your parenting style. How is it going to influence your child as a person? Does your parenting style help them to grow personal responsibility and self-esteem? Does it nourish your relationship? Imagine yourself having a chat with your grown-up children and hearing from them how they felt in these situations, what these methods did to them emotionally – are you ready for that kind of feedback?
2. Are you willing to back off in challenging circumstances?
If you are lost in the face of new parenting challenges and do not know how to react – don’t. Take your time. Communicate it to your offspring that you have no ready answers for these new circumstances – this is also a strong message for children. It is NOT always good to strike the iron while it is hot. You can ask everyone to calm down and come back to the issue when you are in good shape and ready to undertake leadership. Not allowing others to cross your boundaries may be helpful to prevent losing your temper and blaming yourself afterwards. Be careful with methods that offer you readymade answers for all parenting challenges, regardless of the circumstances. Every person, every family and every situation is unique, thereby there are no universal responses or reactions.
3. Children are a box of truth, are you ready to open it?
It is true that children can drive us crazy with their behaviour. Still, they are living creatures and we cannot deny any part of them without losing balance. As they say, children are open suitcases, they carry along all the issues we put in them. Therefore, it is the responsibility of us, adults, to face whatever we go through in family without blaming each other. Be ready to encounter some tough issues that may be present in your families for generations. Be ready to hear difficult truths about yourself and your relationships. This may be a starting point to your healing and leaving behind a burden in your life. If you decide to work out these challenges you end up stronger, closer and healthier as family and individuals. And at the end of the day, there is no greater pleasure for parents than seeing their offspring flourish in life.
4. Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?
When you focus on your behaviour you become a role model for your children and pass your values without words. They observe you and learn from you what is really meaningful in life, what is your self-talk when you fail, are you striving for other people appreciation at any cost or whether you have high self-esteem and communicate your boundaries with conviction. This has a much stronger impact on children than our parental preaching and teaching. Parenthood is an exceptional opportunity to grow with your children, to spot your areas for growth reflected in your relationship with children and in their behaviour. Are you ready to take responsibility for yourself, without blame, and be the authentic and vulnerable person that proves by an attitude that you are struggling together with your children, you can count on each other, forgive and trust each other with all that is happening in your lives?
5. When to say ‘I love you’ and why is it never too much?
Unconditional love is a foundation for building close and lasting relationships in the family. Saying I love you does not weaken the message I don’t accept this behaviour. On the contrary, once a child feels loved and appreciated he/she can make an effort to cooperate. Old saying ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ does not apply to real life as we are complex creatures. Depriving children of love or attention does not serve them well. They learn that to deserve love you need to obey others regardless of your own feelings or needs. And one cannot build healthy relationships basing on such a transactional image of love. When struggling (and showing it through their difficult behaviour) there is nothing children need more than love and attention of significant people in their lives. Focusing on eliminating behavioural issues, which carry an important message about their inner world, may lead to your child’s withdrawal and leave them struggling alone or under influence of peers who are not yet ready to lead themselves through life.
Children don’t need perfect parents
In last years we have seen the outcomes of the authoritarian style in parenting. That made us move towards stress-free parenting which also turned out to fail expectations. We are currently looking for a balanced attitude, family centred one which is respecting everyone’s needs and feelings and leads to growing up to be a strong, independent person able to build healthy relationships. Our task is huge and this is obvious we are going to make mistakes, this is a part of life and is natural. But that should not discourage us or make us feel guilty.
It is ok to be wrong, stay conscious of your actions, say sorry and move on.
This is also a crucial skill our children can learn from us to succeed in life. Remember, no one needs a perfect partner or parent, we want real people, flesh and bone, to build intimate relationships. They give meaning to our life and are a key factor for happiness. In short, they are a jackpot investment for parents and children!
This article originally appeared here – on Kids in the City: