5 Steps for Effective Parenting
I understand you- it’s not an easy task to be a parent. We have been given the responsibility to fulfill many roles and become the guiding lights for our children. Oftentimes our unbound love for our kids and the societal expectations heavily influence the idea of becoming “that perfect parent” we look up to whenever we scroll through our social media feeds. The reality is that there’s no such thing as a <<perfect parent>>. Effective parenting is about striving to provide, to the best of our abilities, for our children’s physical and emotional needs. In this article I would like to show you 5 effective ways for more effective parenting so that you can feel good about yourself as a parent because if you don’t, it will spread like wildfire, affecting you and your child’s relationship.
1. Own your stuff
When it comes to parenting, there are a lot of things you wish you could go back and change. You may have grown up in a household where there was no real structure, discipline, or rules. Maybe your parents were strict and overprotective, and now you want to do the opposite with your own kids.
Whatever your situation was, it’s important to remember that your own experience as a child has shaped the way you parent today. If your parents weren’t very involved in what you did or didn’t do when you were young, then that might mean that as a parent yourself, you’re not very involved with your children’s lives either. On the other hand, if your parents were extremely strict and controlling when they raised you—and this is something that still affects your parenting style—it may be time for some self-reflection about how exactly this is affecting your relationship with your kids.
It may be beneficial to unpack how your childhood impacts how you parent your children presently. You can do this with your partner or alternatively with a therapist. You can talk to your loved one about some of the values that you would like to instill and whether you both agree if they can be a part of child-rearing. Make a list of some of the things you liked about your parents’ form of child rearing and some of the things you would like to do differently. Then beside each point write down how it impacted you positively or negatively. If you believe that you experienced any forms of abuse, neglect or lived with a parent who struggled with substances, this may be an area where a professional is more suited to support.
2. Be involved!
If you grew up in a very different time than today, it’s important to realize how much has changed since then—and how much more we need to continue changing as society evolves. What worked for your parents may not work for you and your parenting style. Being involved means being intentional with your time with your children. Perhaps you set up one on one ‘dates’ with each of your children. Or helping them practice for a sporting event or helping them learn a new instrument. Maybe you and your child take up a new skill together such as baking. Try new ways of getting to know your child as an individual being who has different interests and likes than you. Being actively involved in your children’s lives takes a lot of time and sometimes it means sacrificing your priorities for their well being. However, it’s the most rewarding thing you can do to cultivate your relationship.
It’s important not to confuse what it means to be an involved parent with an over controlling parenting style. Setting clear boundaries and respecting their own growth while acting as a guide and role model in their lives is crucial to develop a healthy parent-to-child dynamic. Possibly unpack parenting trauma in therapy or in discussion.
For example, maybe your parents didn’t think they had to worry about internet safety when you were 12 years old because they didn’t know any better at the time! But now that we know more about the dangers of children engaging in social media and other online expression platforms, we must make sure our kids don’t get bullied by strangers or even friends—and that means keeping them safe online as well!
3. Allowing your children to make mistakes
As a parent, one of the hardest things to do is allow your children to make mistakes. It’s hard because we want to protect our kids from feeling pain and suffering. But the reality is that we cannot protect them from experiencing negative emotions like disappointment, frustration, and sadness.
According to attachment science, the goal is for parents to have conversations with their children about the dangers of the world and what they can do if they feel like doing something dangerous or harmful. The goal is for you to teach them how to make choices that will keep them safe while trusting that they will exercise those choices in a way that makes sense for them.
When your child makes a choice that you don’t approve of, it’s important for you to empathize with them and let them know that it’s okay if they make mistakes—they’re still lovable! On the other hand, being a parent who is critical and wants to control aspects in their children’s lives can send the message that your child’s voice doesn’t matter.
4. Choose your battles
We all have our battles, but you know what? They’re not all worth fighting.
If your kid is acting out, it’s important to find out why. Not all of their behavior is a plot against you. And if it is? Well, that’s a battle that’s not worth fighting because it’s not going to help you or your child in the long run.
Instead of viewing conflict as an opportunity for control, look at it as an opportunity for understanding. By taking some time to get to know your child—and by accepting them for who they are—you’ll be able to start building a relationship that can help guide them through their teenage years without feeling like they’re being pushed around by mom and dad.
5. Validate your child
There’s so much pressure on parents today to be the best at everything, but the truth is that we’re all just trying our best. Sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we need a reminder that it’s okay to ask for help.
And sometimes the best thing you can do for your kids is let them know that you’re not perfect—and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean they’ll grow up thinking they can do whatever they want without consequences. It doesn’t mean they’ll never have to work hard or go through tough times in their lives. But it does mean that they’ll know that there are people out there who love them enough to make mistakes and still be loved in return—and isn’t that what being a parent is all about?
Finally, as parents, we want to be supportive of our child. Learn how to listen to them, how to read them, how to see beyond their distress and soothe it. Validate your child. Be there for them when they need someone. We don’t even realize the little ways that we are modelling what love and acceptance looks like even when they are not at their best.