I think all parents would like to parent with greater confidence while creating the relationship they want with their kids. In this post, I’m going to make some very frank points about what that entails and how to do it in a way that isn’t painful. (Reader Discretion Advised)
There are countless ways to learn how to be the parent you’d like to be. Trial and error, for example. Trying the things that other parents tell you about or suggest to you, or spending hours reading hundreds of books.
I told you I was going to be honest with you, so here it is: That’s just not going to work. I can hear you now: "Wait, what do you mean, that is ‘not going to work’? Tons of people do that!"
I know. That doesn't mean, however, that it's smart or effective.
To be the parent you want to be, you need a set of clear, simple responses that are effective and evidence-based. Parenting can be simple, but with all the information and advice out there, parents tend to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed. It doesn’t have to be this way.
It is possible to stop guessing your way through parenting challenges.
Think about it: Maybe you have spent hours or even weeks of your life reading the latest (and quite possibly conflicting) parenting books, articles and blogs. You’ve spent so much time and energy reading that you don’t actually know how to apply what you have read or what to say when your child misbehaves.
That is crazy. CRAZY! It makes no sense, and I get flustered just thinking about parents who do this. Even though they have the best intentions, they are not investing their time and effort effectively or efficiently
So, how should you invest your time to improve your parenting?
You get clear on your parenting goals.
You commit to parenting practices that align with your personal goals and values.
You practice just a handful of tools and strategies, because focusing on too many will leave you confused, frustrated, and ineffective.
You love your kids, and you want to see them thrive, but you need to stop yelling, bribing and threatening them. They need parents who can set clear boundaries and who can respond with both love and kindness while holding the line.
Start ENJOYING the time you have with your kids now—their childhood won’t last forever, right? And realize that you can’t enjoy these years if you are flailing about in your attempts at parenting
Here are three reasons why NOT investing in your parenting right now would be a big mistake:
1. You waste a lot of time and energy.
Honestly, parenting is not easy for anyone! (Including me.) In my private practice and live workshops, I work with a ton of parents who are pediatricians, preschool teachers, and child therapists, and they struggle with parenting their own children. Many parents think that those who work with children have it all figured out when it comes to parenthood. That is false!
Raising a child requires specific knowledge, understanding, and skills. Everyone needs to invest in their parenting, or it can feel like a serious drain. Without a specific set of skills and a plan, you start to feel depleted and simply insane. (Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.)
2. You’re not having as much fun with your kids as you would like.
If you’re spending your time and energy dealing with all the day-to-day challenges, you are missing time that could be spent having fun together. Having clear parenting tools and a plan will not only help you right now, in this stage of your child’s development, but it will help you throughout their entire childhood.
Nip some of those bad habits in the bud or avoid them all together. If you invest now, there will be a much greater return on investment over the 18 years of your child’s childhood.
Are there things you would like to be doing together as a family that you avoid because you fear how your child might behave?
But avoidance is not a long-term strategy and isn’t sustainable. And if you value your family time (which I know you do, otherwise you would not be reading this) you should be spending it creating memories together.
You need to FOCUS your energy and time, and you can’t do that if you’re constantly hesitating and second-guessing what to do every time there is a new challenge or misbehavior.
3. You’ll lack confidence in how you parent and sometimes feel out of control.
If you do not have a clear understanding of what your parenting philosophy is, or how to respond to or avoid parenting challenges, then you will constantly be second-guessing yourself. This is one of the biggest reasons to invest in your parenting. If you want to be the parent you aspire to be, you need to get clear, confident and educated now.
Don't be the parent who waits until things are really bad!
Here’s the thing:
You can’t throw your children in time-out, tell them to stop being rude, bribe them into cooperation, and expect that they will begin to cooperate and take initiative.
Raising a child is not the same as programming a robot. It’s not a relationship that is one-sided in power. Our job isn’t to get kids to comply and follow orders. It is to encourage them to be cooperative and to contribute.
Take a look at the difference:
Old Way of Parenting:
Demand that your child show respect for you and do what you ask by using shame, punishment, rewards or bribes. Ultimately, use fear and power to cultivate a submissive child.
New Way of Parenting:
Develop a loving relationship with your child based on mutual trust and respect, by sharing power and control, setting clear limits and expectations, using encouragement and modeling the behavior you expect from your child.
With any investment, whether or money or time, you need to develop a clear, coherent strategy. Fail to do so, and you will squander your resources. A financial advisor will spend some time with you, discussing your priorities, your values, and how much money you have to invest. Why not do a similar investment analysis when you consider your approach to parenting? Think about your priorities and values, and consider how you want to invest your time with your children. That is sane.