Foundational parenting is a beginning place that makes all the twists and turns easier to handle. Now don’t quote me as saying that parenting is easy! No one of sound mind has ever said, “Parenting is easy.” Unless of course, they’ve never had children…
Every one of us brings our own mixed bag of experiences with our parents, the parents of friends, and others we’ve observed throughout life. Then we attempt to combine two separate sets of parenting experiences into one identity and expect the result to be flawless… kind of like the Titanic was unsinkable.
Just like everything else in life, parenting is as much about mindset as it is anything else. How do we condition our minds to help us become patient, wise, nurturing, and firm guides of our most precious gifts? I’m not going to presume I suddenly have all the answers after 1,000’s of years of parents before me (just hang out at my house for a while and you’ll know I don’t). What I want to share are some foundational pieces we can all apply to our given situations. Maybe from here, we can all build ourselves into better parents.
First, we have to understand that our highest expectations for parenting are ideals to strive for, not places to arrive and stay. Have your children, or anything else in your life, ever reached a point and stayed? No, no, and never!
If the very object of our parenting will never be still and stagnant, how can we expect our parenting skills and approaches to stay the same? Life is about movement and change. Parenting is more about staying relevant to your children than it is to always know exactly what to do.
Don’t be afraid of setting high expectations for yourself, but be willing to fall short and keep going for it. Your example of perseverance is a marvelous lesson for your kids and one you want them to model.
Second, be willing to look at the events of your past that shaped you into the parent you are right now. If you find yourself yelling in certain situations or unwilling to confront uncomfortable conflicts with your kids, why? What events from your past come to mind in those stressful situations?
By identifying pivotal moments for you, it is much easier to find and address any past resentment or guilt that causes your current reactions. Forgive those issues, learn how you want them to be different now, and take action. Be the one that breaks the cycle and improves your parenting legacy.
Third, we must ask ourselves, “am I doing this for my child’s best interest or mine?” That one can sting. Do I ask my kids to keep it down out in public because there is an actual reason or because I’m afraid it will make me look bad if my kids are having fun? Do I push for academic or athletic achievement because they are learning amazing lessons or because I don’t want to the parent of the “kid picked last?”
If I lose my patience when my daughter can’t focus long enough to get her shoes on, why? Is it because there is something wrong with her fascination of the things around her or because I didn’t get us moving fast enough and we’re running late? What are my motivations for the way I’m acting?
Finally (for now), err on the side of loving. I really believe it is impossible to go wrong here. If you display a healthy, pure love for your child in any circumstance, the outcome is always moving you in the right direction. Whether you know what to do or not, always default to the love.
This is far from an exclusive list, but maybe gets the thoughts and conversation started. What do you have to say about it and what would you like to address specifically? Let your voice be heard…but not too loud, there are others around.
Be your best,