Being a parent is arguably the toughest job in the world. Parents can only give as good as they are aware of and have experienced or learned for themselves. So, how good they become really starts with self-knowledge of their own motivations, preferences, beliefs and values.
Having kids is the easy part, but once you take that step, you are taking on the most important role you will ever hold in your lifetime. The bliss and the curse of parenting is that you take who you think you are plus the opportunities and challenges that life gives you and multiply these by the factor of children. It can be scary and exhilarating at the same time.
Here’s a short list of questions to ask yourself. Honest answers to these questions will reveal how you are showing up as a parent:
* How conscious am I of my own strengths and weaknesses?
* How do I respond to the ups and downs of life?
* How calm and patient am I in a crisis?
* How good of a listener am I?
* What is my normal leadership style? Am I a boss or an inspiration to others?
* How flexible am I to changing and adjusting my style or approach as the situation warrants?
Your Parenting Roles
Whether you like it or not, your children will discover all these things about you. They will learn how you navigate through life and will eventually pick up on, choose what resonates with them, and reject what doesn’t. They are your instant mirrors. And they’re very good at it.
And as a parent you are their protector, role model, guidance counselor, entertainer, teacher, and the list goes on indefinitely. The point is, when you have kids, you become their universe when they are little, and hopefully their friend when they grow up.
Being a parent means you are taking on a responsibility, both moral and financial. It means you are officially an adult. Pretty frightening stuff, but also very rewarding.
How does this all happen? We all heard this a million times – “Kids do not come with instruction manuals.” This is true, but in essence, the instruction manual is inside us all. So what can we do to guide our kids into adulthood?
Be A Good Role Model
When kids are little, they often mimic what their parents do and say. We, as parents, need to be very careful of how we act or what we say around kids. If we display signs of aggression or give in to the urge to lose our temper, kids often pick up on that and will act out those emotions in school, the playground or even back at us.
We, as human beings, are not always perfect, but if you keep in mind that you are a role model for your kids and then ask yourself, “Is this how I want them to act?” The next time you want to scream or fight in front of them, or raise your voice at them, you will think twice.
To Rule Or Not To Rule?
How strict are you with your child? Your own upbringing, religion and culture will influence your parenting style. But no matter what you decide, never make empty threats that you do not intend to follow through on. It’s also critical for both spouses to be supportive of one another so that their child does not get mixed messages.
Be clear about what you expect from your children. If you have a problem with their behaviour, describe it to them in a way they can understand. Let them know how it makes you feel and the natural consequences resulting from their behaviour. If a difficult adjustment needs to be made, offer help by working with them on a solution.
Keep The Communication Open
Talk to your kids. A great place to do that is at the kitchen table. Try to have at least one meal together as a family. Once the communication is open, your kids will tell you about what is going on in their lives. And at the very least, you will be able to pick up on their feelings and views on different topics.
Make this a habit. If you can’t have your meals together, find some quiet time to be with your kids and show them that they can talk to you about anything. They’ll be more likely to come to you when they are having a problem.
In the process of being a parent, there are many walls we will hit and mistakes we will make. The bottom line is we need to create an environment for our children to lean into, and take with them the strengths and lessons of life they have learned in their formative years. Let us remember that our children did not come from us but through us. And, we’ve been blessed by their presence.