Positive Parenting: Ten Questions to Ask Yourself
Aug 01, 2011 09:13AM
By Diane Lang
1. What type of parent are you? If you could score your parenting skills on a scale of one to ten, with one being the worst parent and ten being the best, where would you rate, and why? I’ve had more than fifty parents answer this question, and the most common score was five or less. As parents, we tend to think we are never doing enough for our kids. In our own eyes, we may be okay—but we could always do better, and we seem to have a knack for remembering everything we’ve done wrong: I just yelled at my daughter, I wasn’t fully listening, I couldn’t get off work to see her in a school play. Unfortunately, we rarely remember the good we’ve done.
2. What type of parent do you want to be? What personality traits do you need to work on as a parent? Think of all the traits that would make you the best possible role model for your kids. Remember, most traits are learned, which means you can adopt any new traits you think you’re lacking, such as patience, listening skills, empathy, and so on. It also means you can teach your kids some really great personality traits to help guide them through life in a positive way, such as respect for oneself and others, kindness, and gratitude.
3. What have you learned from your child? My child has made me see the joy in life. I revel in her innocence, blissfully unaware that the world has a dark side. I hear her laugh from the sheer enjoyment of flowers, the sky, or ice cream. She truly lives in the moment. I’ve also learned from my daughter that we are born happy, born to love life. This gives me the motivation to find that joy in my own life and share it with everyone around me. Think of the influence your kids have on you.
4. What does my child need from me? Find out what your child really needs and wants—what her interests, likes and dislikes are. And make sure you listen to her. Don’t tune out, thinking you know what’s best for your child all the time. As a parent, you’re naturally protective, but by listening to your child and following her interests, you’ll help her grow and become her own person.
5. Do you find yourself “keeping up with the Jones”? Parents often compare themselves to other parents, and may try to compete with them. If you do, stop immediately. This will only result in failure for both you and your child. Be yourself—be the parent you want to be. Let your child grow and develop at her own pace. Encourage, but don’t push!
6. When was the last time you said something positive to yourself or your spouse about your parenting techniques? Give yourself a break. We learn how to be parents through trial and error. We have help and support, but there’s no degree for parenting. Think about what you have done right, and allow your children to see your confidence; it will help them with their own sense of self.
7. What are your expectations for your children? Are they realistic? By making a list of your expectations, you’ll begin to see what’s doable and what’s not, and you won’t set your child or yourself up to fail.
8. Write a job description for yourself as a mom or dad. And be ready to rewrite it when your situation changes, such as becoming a single parent or starting to work outside the home. Your job description as a parent may change at any time. The following is an example of a job description for a mother:
Help Wanted: Mom
Job Requirements: A beautiful smile, warm eyes and a loving touch. Highly motivated and energetic individual with the ability to multitask, negotiate and manage time. A self-starter who is willing to learn new tasks, is organized, can delegate responsibility and manage a budget. Must be patient and function well under pressure. Needs to be responsible, caring, disciplined and have good managerial skills. Listening skills a plus. Must have a reliable car. Position requires long hours, overtime, weekends and holidays. No sick or vacation time. Pay is low, appreciation is rare, but you will learn a lot from this position.
9. Who are you outside of being a parent? You may define yourself as a parent, but it’s not all you are: You undoubtedly have outside interests, hobbies, and friends. And the more well- rounded person you are, the more your children have to admire about you. A happy parent = happy children. To be a good parent, you must first be a happy individual.
10. Do you have a support network? The most successful parents have a strong support team. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, no matter how hard it may be to do so. It was extremely hard for me, because I always thought I could handle everything. We may think we’re always in control, but once we have kids, things change. Think of a few people that you can turn to in an emergency—or just when you need a break. Whether it’s family or friends, keep their contact numbers close by. Be prepared for the unexpected, and parenting becomes much easier!