Once you have kids the responsibility of raising, educating and loving these little people is instantly bestowed upon you. As parents we have a very important role in shaping our kids to be good contributing members of society.
Parenthood is a journey. A long journey. As our kids grow up they are constantly changing and new challenges present themselves at every turn.
A sense of empowerment as a parent will help you when it comes to raising your kids. Empowerment leads to greater confidence, consistency and dependability in whatever life throws at you.
One thing I think we all have in common, as parents, is that we want to be fantastic ones.
Here are 10 ways that we can get closer to that goal:
1. Begin with the end in mind. Take a minute to think about the type of parent you want to be. Close your eyes and picture what it means to you to be a fantastic parent. By starting with the end in mind we have something to work towards. We can live each day with this end goal in mind and align our actions with it.
2. Family schedule. Things can get a little hectic when you and your kids are active outside of the home. Keep everyone on the same page and prevent activities from slipping through the cracks by creating a family schedule or routine. Involve all family members so you each have a say in how your days, evenings and weekends will unfold. Being well organized will make this part of parenting just a little bit easier.
3. Revisit your priorities. Set your priorities and don’t expect to be able to do it all. It is very true that when you say yes to something you say no to something else. Don’t over commit. What we usually say no to is down time, time with loved ones or hobbies and activities that we are passionate about. When kids are napping let the laundry sit, do the dishes when they wake up and just rest. After the kids are in bed does it really matter that the floor wasn’t swept? Likely not. Leave it and get started on that book you’ve wanted to read.
4. Solicit advice from people you trust. When you first start a family there is a wealth of advice out there and make no mistake you’ll get it whether you want it or not. Some advice can be really good like “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “trust your instincts” but there is also some advice that is not so good. Solicit advice from people you trust, people who have been there before and who’s opinion you value. Listen to what they have to say, be open to it and try their suggestions if you think it’s something that might work.
5. Spend quality time with your kids. There is nothing your kids like more than spending time with you. Play a game, laugh, reminisce, and be silly. Curl up and read a book, watch a movie or just talk. Talk about your day, what they want to do in the future, places they’d like to visit. Spending time with your kids just talking will give you a lot of insight into who they are.
6. Show them respect. These little people are just that little people. They have feelings, needs, and wants just like us big kids. They should be shown respect for their ideas, their abilities, and their strengths. We all have personal space and know how it feels to have it violated by someone who stands just a little too close. Our kids are no different. Standing too close and towering over them is intimidating even if you don’t intend it to be. Respect their personal space.
7. Love your kids but set limits. It’s important to show our kids we love them. Be affectionate and say the words “I love you”. It won’t hurt and it can’t be over stated. You may think well of course I love my kids and they know it. Maybe … or maybe not. Showing your kids you love them doesn’t mean giving in to their every demand. You still need to set limits. Instead of punishment I like to think of it as teaching my kids. Teaching them what’s appropriate and what’s not as it applies to the real world. Believe me I’m not perfect, but this is what I aim for.
8. Lead by example. Kids rarely “do as I say, not as I do”. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Kids will mimic what they see. They learn by watching their parents. If you want your child to be respectful and mindful of others be respectful and mindful of others yourself. Tell the truth, have integrity, be courteous and polite, if these are in fact the values you wish to instill in your kids.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi
9. Cultivate gratitude. Teach your kids to be grateful for what they have instead of longing for what they do not. There may be less of a sense of entitlement if they are taught to value people, life and relationships as opposed to things. Talk to your kids about what being a good person means. Ask them for examples of things they are grateful for each day. Start a family gratitude journal.
10. Relax. In our effort to do everything right we run the risk of becoming uptight or “by the book”. When we relax and let things go the relationships we have with our kids can grow and thrive. Let kids be kids. Let them get dirty and play outside. In fact get out there with them and spend quality time with them. Relax the rules a bit where they don’t really matter. Pick your battles your relationship is more important than being right or proving a point.
Like many things being a fantastic parent takes a lot of work, and I think it’s worth every bit of effort. Live intentionally, get active and feel empowered. There’s a fantastic parent in you too!