Entering parenthood is liken an Indiana Jones Movie. You have many uncertainties, insecurities, angst and a general uneasiness about the whole adventure. Not unlike an Indiana Jones movie, you are always inadequately prepared for the 2 a.m. squelch that ignites into a thundering roar of screaming. Whether you are speaking of a newborn baby or a teenager, each stage of childhood is a personal learning curve for each parent.
Moreover, no two children are identically alike, thus being educated by one child is only the beginning of your parental pursuit. From the moment that the child is comfortably placed into your arms, you are operating without a how-to manual. While many experts can spew their literary, philosophical, academic, and ideological perspectives; children have very few absolutes. You may be asking yourself, so what are these absolutes? It is absolutely essential that all children are placed into a loving, compassionate, empathetic, nurturing, caring, and forgiving environment. Children should never be intentionally exposed to harm of any sort; whether it is forcible or not, the home must be a place of safety and care. It is absolutely essential that all parents recognize that they are not alone in their parental training.
“No one comes into this world knowing how to be a good parent. The challenges and experiences of our lives directly affect the environment we create for our own children. We know now that crime, divorce, scores of diseases, obesity and poor academic performance are directly linked to adverse childhood experiences, such as child abuse and neglect.” (Learntoparent.org,2013, Online)
Society has far too long expected that parenting is a natural occurrence. While healthy copulation (sexual intercourse) is indeed a natural experience, the parameters beyond that initial sexual act begin the parental educational paradigm. However, even in the process of having sexual relations; it is a must that we are in agreement with our partner to procreate.
ABSOLUTES OF PARENTING
“Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do.”
~ Matt Walsh
Parents must absolutely seek help for any uncertainties, questions, concerns, or feelings of inadequacies that have a chance of driving a wedge between them and their child. For far too long, we have relied upon an unwritten rule that says if you are human you should be capable of being a parent. Unfortunately, this is misleading; causing good parents to feel inadequate. If we were not born with an owner’s manual, then how do we expect that our child should be born with an owner’s manual. Moreover, if we are not born with a how-to manual, then why should we expect parents to be equipped with such an elusive manual?
If we expect parents to be fully equipped with a how-to manual, then we are setting young parents up for possible and probable failure. Therefore, such misnomers allow for the flood gates of poor parenting, abuse, neglect and traumatic experiences per childhood.
An absolute of parenting is that all parents are capable of learning. Do not fret if you are striving to be your best and you make an error in your parenting, because we are all prone to failure. Rather, make each mistake a teachable moment for the life of your child. Lift your bootstraps up, forgive yourself, and move forward. Remember that every failure is offering you, as the parent, an opportunity to achieve personal and parental growth.
IMPROVING YOUR PARENTING SKILLS
“We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future.”
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
If you are striving to improve and become an effective parent, consider the following resources and courses:
1. Parenting Classes: Parenting courses are often available through community and family service offices, as well as psychological and counseling clinics. Parenting courses are designed to:
A) Encourage parents to prove more effective and successful caregivers.
B) Parenting courses should offer parents the basic principles of child development.
C) Such courses should foster a parent’s strengths and tools and recognize, as well as correct any limitations, weakness or vulnerabilities.
D) Parents should learn skills to improve their own verbal and nonverbal communications.
E) Parenting courses should help parents who struggle with anger and behavior management issues. In some cases, parents may be better served to have both couples and individual counseling.
F) Parents should learn what are appropriate behaviors and expectations of their children.
2. Couple’s Therapy: Additionally, young parents and first time parents should consider taking couple’s therapy. Couple’s therapy will help develop the already established relationship, as well as prepare the couple for an additional participant within their relationship.
3. Individual Therapy: Individual therapy offers a sounding board for those within the relationship to discuss any concerns, frets, or stressors around the pending birth of their child. Individual therapy should aim to encourage, empower, and enable the parent to be an effective parent, as well as an individual.
EFFECTIVE PARENTING 101
“Teaching our children to control themselves is far more effective than trying to control our children.
- Model, don’t manipulate.
- Lead, don’t intimidate.
- Support, don’t shame.
- Encourage, don’t threaten.
- Guide, don’t push.
- Listen, don’t lecture.”
~ L. R. Knost
What is effective parenting? Effective parenting is recognizing that we all have a lot to learn about parenting and about life. Effective parenting is allowing ourselves to be human and to make mistakes, but to be willing to seek out solutions, remedies, and information when necessary.
As Effective Parents You should:
- Allow children to be active participants in decisions that will directly and indirectly affect their lives.
- As an effective parent, it is important that you model and incorporate personal acceptance, approval, respect and unconditional love.
- Effective parents should always seek help when needed.
- Encourage Your Child Daily
- “Parent the child you have, not the child you wish you’d had.” (Lehman, 2013, Online)
- Positively and Constructively Discipline Your Child
- Effective parents are mutually respectful and offering an unconditional spirit.
- “Children, including adolescents, must be allowed to exercise their right to express their own views freely, according to their evolving capacity.” (Unicef.org, 2013, p. 2)
- Children should be taught to respect their bodies, minds, and spirits.
- Effective parents should establish boundaries and structure in the home.
- Effective parents recognize that they are not alone trying to pilot a vessel at sea; rather, that there is an entire crew of professionals willing to lend a hand, support, and encouragement. — ASK FOR HELP.
- Effective parents are involved in the lives of their child.
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
~ Fred Rogers
No parent is a perfect parent, but effective parents strive to be positive parents. Positive parents recognize that they have limitations and vulnerabilities, strengths and successes, but are always seeking to make room for improvement.
Effective parents are not alone, but have recognized that It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.
Author: Dr. Asa Don Brown, Ph.D., C.C.C., N.C.C.M.
Block, J. D. (2003) Naked intimacy, How to increase true openness in your relationship. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill
Center for Effective Parenting (2013) The center for effective parenting. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://parenting-ed.org/
Lehman, J. (2013) Hope for parents of defiant teens: 6 ways to parent more effectively. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.empoweringparents.com/article_print.php?id=324
Hendrix, H. & Hunt, H. L. (2004) Receiving love, Transform your relationship by letting yourself be loved. New York, NY: Atria Books
Learn to Parent (2013) Finding a parenting class. Retrieved October 29, 2013, from http://www.learntoparent.org/
Wall, C. L. (2004) The courage to trust, A guide to building deep and lasting relationships. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA