Every parent wants to be a GOOD parent! We want to give our children the best start in life, the opportunities that we didn’t have, the chance to grow into the person that they are meant to be. We want to make sure that they don’t go without, or struggle with hardships or suffer like we had to. Above all, we want them to be happy.
We work very hard to make those things a reality and yet sometimes, despite that work, it all becomes incredibly hard. We dream of happy families and sometimes it feels like we are living a nightmare.
Instead of children eager to learn, going off to school all clean and shiny, with their school bag and all their equipment slung across their backs, most often they are still half dressed, their teeth are not washed and they haven’t done their homework – and the packed lunch is back at home in the fridge.
Instead of harmony and children playing, we get arguments and fighting. Instead of smiling faces as we all enjoy bathtime and bedtime, we get sulks and tantrums and demands for another story. Instead of a peaceful evening after the children go to bed, we have numerous interruptions and pleas for more attention.
How did it get like this? What we thought would be lovely is turning out to be very hard indeed and not a little stressful into the bargain! And we keep trying harder and harder!
What would happen if we stopped trying so hard?
Being a ‘good parent’ is a label. We are attempting to hit a target constructed from lots of ideas that we have gathered as we have grown up. It is pretty much impossible to live up to this bunch of ideas, no matter how hard we try!
Instead of trying to live up to the ideas about what a good parent should be doing and acting like, we could try focusing on what makes us feel good as parents. There are some useful steps to help the process:
- Qualities and skills
Make a list of what you think are important skills and qualities for young people to learn, for when they are grown and leaving home.
Be clear about what you want and expect as a parent and leader of the family. If you are not clear, how can your children know what is acceptable?
- Role Model
What kind of role model do your children need, to help them learn those important skills? Children are great imitators, so give them a good example, that matches up to your values – which means being clear on those values yourself!
- Learning opportunities
Children learn by doing and experiencing much better than being told something. What kinds of experiences and opportunities do your children need in order to learn the skills and develop the qualities you have identified above? How can you provide those opportunities – without it costing a fortune?
Attend to your self-care needs as a priority. Making sure you are looking after yourself and your physical and mental health needs is vital for you and vital for your parenting! It is also a very important role model example for your young people.
- Being present
Instead of always being busy doing something, take a few minutes to just ‘be with’ your child. Watch them play, listen to them talk about something. Show interest. Paying attention can be done in this way when it is not being demanded. This is quality time, just as much as doing activities. And it doesn’t have to be for hours! (And it doesn’t cost a fortune either)
- Stop comparison
Instead of comparing yourself and your parenting to what your friend does, or what your neighbor does, or how your mum/dad/granny did it, think instead of what you are doing today, in this moment, in relation to the goals and ideas you have seen here.
- Take a moment.
At the end of each day to reflect on these things and to pay attention to you and how you feel today, about what things you have done that provide the opportunities your children need to learn and grow.
How does that feel?