Part of what I do as a Therapist is work with families with regard to parenting skills. I have taught classes on the subject and assist parents on a regular basis in counseling sessions. Most parents know very little about parenting so they tend to do what their parents did – or drastically different if they did not like the model they grew up with. In a two parent family there can be, and often is, disagreement between the parents on how parenting should be done. In stepfamilies the disagreements usually are more pronounced. Even if divorced both parents can cooperate and co-parent in raising their child(ren). Not easy, but necessary!
Parental “mistakes” are over and above certain desired prerequisites. The most basic needs of a child growing up in a family are: 1) Two parents who love each other and demonstrate it consistently. 2) Two parents who love their child, are able to demonstrate it consistently, and want to be the best parents possible. 3) Two parents who have a clear united understanding of their expectations of their child, state them clearly, and are consistent in rewarding or punishing the child dependent on the behavior of the child in meeting such expectations.
Unfortunately, these “prerequisites” are not present in every marriage. To the extent that they exist then the probability of raising a successful well adjusted child is high. Beyond these desired “prerequisites” are other important factors for being a good parent. However, these “mistakes” hinder.
- Protect, but don’t overprotect. You need to keep your child safe but as s/he grows older the opportunity for exploration needs to expand. The overprotected child will have low self esteem and will either be unassertive and meek or at some point rebel in a destructive manner.
- Always be the parent, not your child’s best friend. When your children become an adult the friendship factor can be added. Being the parent does not mean to be overbearing, harsh, or demanding. It does mean that you are in charge, giving and receiving respect, while mentoring your child.
- Help your child see the many positive possibilities ahead. Do not use fear as a motivator or tell them that they cannot do or be such and such. Age appropriate, let them make their choices and find out for themselves if it is good for them or not.
- You are to be a role model for your child. Do not be a hypocrite. Do not be that parent that tells a child not to do something and then do it yourself. Abuse of food, alcohol, or drugs, lying and stealing, would be some of the salient examples.
- Always be present to your child, but not invasive. Being present will vary according to the age and stage of your child. Kids need to know that you are there for them-forever. The parent-child bond is unique and so special.
This writing is a basic “starter Kit” for being a good parent. Certainly there are many other facets for being the best parent possible. It is both an exhausting and rewarding vocation, never to be taken lightly. May you, Respected Reader, make a responsible choice to be a parent and do your best to put into practice the things that your child needs to thrive. There is not greater role in life!
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates