First of all, what is a parent?
- The person who is taking care of the child’s health and safety,
- Preparing the child for life as a productive adult, and
- Communicating or transferring personal/cultural values.
The hardest part of parenting?
There is no set instruction manual when you get the baby! So what do we end up doing? Maybe we wing it, or question everything, or do whatever we were brought up with. We ask what other people are doing and follow their examples. Sometimes we learn and try to educate ourselves with what the experts advise. Parenting is a job that doesn’t just end at 5 pm and you clock out. It’s an every day – every night experience until the child grows up and is independent.
It was easy for me to be a “parenting expert” when I didn’t have children. I thought back to what my parents did and just assumed that’s what everybody needed to do and they’ll be fine! Then I had my own kids and everything changed. Here’s what I learned:
There are so many different parenting tips! Too many. There are also many different personalities! Each parent is different. Each child is different. What works for one family doesn’t work for another. What works for one child doesn’t work for another.
What does a teachable parent do?
When I was a student teacher, after every lesson my cooperating (main) teacher would sit me down across from her desk and show me her notes. The notes had a list of pluses (what I did well that day) and a list of minuses (what I needed to improve on). Often times I would end the meeting holding back tears because I just wanted to hear how well I did! Not the things I needed to improve on! But as time went on, I realized that it was so good for me! The minuses would get talked about, what did I need to adjust to make it into a plus? Why was it a minus? With time, the list of minuses got smaller and the pluses increased. It was an amazingly painful experience which taught me to reflect on my performance .
A teachable parent looks at all the stuff going on and constantly evaluates what’s working for the family and what is not. They reflect. If it isn’t working, something needs to be changed and adjusted.
The main goal for me is to have a strong connection with my children. When we’re disconnected, I need to see what went wrong and how can I fix it. When a strong connection is there, children can thrive better and listen and absorb what the parent is teaching.
What I personally learned for me
Here are a few things I’ve tried that have sometimes worked and other times miserably failed. And I needed to figure out something else.
- Cry it out method for baby
- Learned about attachment parenting and decided to go that route
- Strict bedtime
- Realized super flexible bedtime also didn’t work
- Our life schedules caused us to be adjust: later bedtime, later wake up
- Do what needs to happen to enjoy the process (bath times, multiple stories, etc.) instead of dreading it each evening
- No talk backs
- There’s a difference between respectfully disagreeing or being plain rude; had to clarify all that
- First-time obedience
- Similar as the “no talk-backs” – what if I had made a bad instruction for them? I’m a human, I fail too. So we learn obedience, as well as me listening to what kids want to say about it, which may result in a different version of the original instruction.
- Potty training chart/stickers
- Is the child even ready? Am I ready to commit? So many different questions wrapped up in this one.
- Chore chart
- Different ages can handle different things. Kids could have a say in what they can handle doing, they can choose options. Just because one chart didn’t work, doesn’t mean the next one won’t either. Biggest takeaway is that I need to be consistent.
- Eat all the food served
- Sometimes kids aren’t as hungry! Had to lower expectations, eliminate extra snacks, and then when it was mealtime, they would have no problem eating a healthy nutritious meal. Had to trust that kids can tell when their bellies are full, no need to force them to eat!
- Homeschooling – duplicating regular school and trying to get ahead if it’s doable
- Overwhelms the child! Just because they can, doesn’t mean they need to be pushed more and more! Sometimes relaxing and letting go produces better results (playing games that teach math skills, lots of trips to the library for new books, etc.)
Don’t play the Comparison Game!
The sneaky game is the worst! We look at somebody and think because it works for them, then it will work for me! And we raise expectations and then when it doesn’t work we think we fail, or we are bad parents, or something is wrong with our kids. Stop. It’s about you, and your child! What is your relationship like? Do you even like your kid? Does your kid like you? Connect with them instead of trying to do something that doesn’t work. By all means get inspired and figure out what exactly you’re looking for. And of course keep trying new things but if it’s ruining the relationship, ask if maybe it isn’t worth it?
Dear God, help me to constantly be willing to change and adjust and be flexible. 🙂