Parenting Success: It’s More About the Parent than the Child
Parenting is a tough job. The toughest, in my opinion, because it’s 24/7, for the rest of our lives.
I’m biased, though. I’ve not only studied parenting and counseled parents in my private practice for years, but, as a mom of 6, between the ages of 17 and 5, I’m in full-time, on-the-job training, and have been for quite a while.
I’ve experienced trying to apply the parenting skills I’ve learned, only to fail miserably. I’ve seen my good intentions fall by the wayside because I’m too tired, overwhelmed, or I’ve just had it! I’ve had to pick myself back up after making too many mistakes, and get going again. And again. And again. Yes, parenting is definitely the hardest job in the world.
The Key to Parenting Success? It’s Not What We Think
Perhaps the thing that makes parenting hardest is that, though we all want our children to rise to their full potential—to become contributing members of society, to treat us and the world with respect and love—we all have times when we struggle to know just how to make that happen. We all desire parenting success, but we weren’t given a parenting “how-to” manual (and, each child would need her own manual even if we were!). We’re simply doing the best we can.
Many of us seek help from friends, family, and experts on how to be a parenting success. Whether we need to know how to handle behavioral issues, want discipline techniques that really work, or even want to understand how to motivate our kids to seek the best in life, there is a book, advice, or seminar for everything. It’s good to seek help; we gain new ideas and have new strategies to implement. And they often work. At least, for a while.
But, the truth is, knowing all the discipline techniques or the best strategies for improving behavior is not the key to parenting success. While these things can certainly help, our children don’t truly learn better behavior if we are not modeling that behavior ourselves. The “do as I say and not as I do” model of parenting simply does not work.
Parenting Success: It’s More About the Parent Than the Child
The most valuable thing I have learned in all my years of practicing and teaching parenting is this: Parenting is more about the parent than the child. As I like to say, “That’s why it’s called parenting and not childing.”
Children learn best by example. Think about yelling. Have you ever found yourself yelling, “Stop yelling!” to your children? Does it make any sense at all? Do you ever find yourself, in a fit of frustration, trying to teach your child about virtues, like patience, respect, or love? When we say one thing and do another, the only thing we get is a confused child.
The most important thing we can do to feel successful as parents is to acknowledge the work we need to do and do it. If we want our kids to be respectful, we need to model respect. If we want them to control their temper, we must do the same. If we want them to see their weaknesses and have a desire to improve, we must show them the way. If we are committed to self-improvement, to practicing virtue and values in our daily lives, to recognizing and improving our weaknesses and building on our strengths, then our children will want to do the same. They will learn not only from our words. They will be motivated and inspired by our example.
Are you on the path of parenting success?
The question for each parent, then, is, “Am I committed to being the best I can be? Am I willing to look at who I am as a parent, acknowledge my weaknesses, embrace my strengths, and strive to do a little bit better?” When we can answer a confident, “Yes!” to both of these questions, we are already on the path of parenting success.
I said it before and I mean it: You, and I, and all the other parents out there—we are doing the best we can. But, what if—just what if our true best is a little bit better than we believed?
Make the commitment today to be your best as a parent. Do your work. Then, let your children follow. If we do this, it’s not only our parenting that will be successful. In the end, we feel personally successful too.
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(More to come soon in my “Parenting Skills, Top 10” Blog series!)
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