We all wish we were better parents.
We wish we had all the answers to our kids’ questions.
We wish we knew the right response to every parenting situation.
But we’re not perfect.
We don’t have all the right answers.
And we make mistakes – many of them.
Being a good parent isn’t an easy task and there’s no manual or instruction book.
The good news is that you don’t have to allow society to define your success as a parent. The only opinions that really matter are your children’s.
Being the best parent to your children is a responsibility that you cannot take lightly. Therefore, you need to examine yourself to identify shortcomings and work on improving them. This exercise has helped me to make improvements in my life as a parent and in other areas of my life.
After several years of on-the-job training, I’ve discovered 10 ways to be a better parent.
How to Be a Better Parent: Be Present
There is much talk nowadays about living in the moment. People are so preoccupied with their mobile devices that they fail to pay attention to beauty all around them.
Parents have to learn to enjoy the appreciate the mundane things that make life with children wonderful.
Ditch the tech and focus solely on your child.
Take walks, read books together, share stories. Make her feel like she is the most important person in the world.
Nothing makes a child feel more special than having your undivided attention.
How to Be a Better Parent: Keep Your Word
I’ve disappointed my children many times because I made promises I couldn’t keep. I’ve missed programs and recitals or I didn’t play with them when I said I would. I’ve learned that it’s better to not make a promise than to make a promise and not keep it.
Trust is a valuable commodity and it doesn’t take much to erode it. Maintain it at all costs by keeping your word.
How to Be A Better Parent: Walk the Walk
My oldest son adores me. He wants to be with me as much as possible and is constantly seeking my approval.
His adulation makes me more aware of what I say and do. Knowing that he’s watching my every move, forces me to be a better parent.
As parents, we must be aware of the example that we’re setting for our children. We have to model the behavior that we expect from them. In other words, we have to walk the walk.
We may not always get it right, but we have to strive to set the benchmark.
How to Be a Better Parent: Have Real Conversations
Parents sometimes shy away from difficult conversations with their children because they believe the subject matter may be inappropriate.
We often underestimate our children’s ability to understand and grapple with the horrors of the world. However, children are savvier than we think. They can process information and deal with tough topics when presented in an age-appropriate manner.
I’ve talked to my kids about sex, puberty, domestic violence, racism, school shootings, terrorism, and other unpleasant current events.
But I also talk about things that help me bond with my kids.
My daughter loves it when I tell her stories about my youth. As a result of my sharing, she is more likely to open up about her life.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about a variety of topics. More importantly, don’t forget to listen to them. The conversation is a two-way street.
How to Be a Better Parent: Maintain a Healthy Relationship
Your kids need to see that you and your partner are united and have their best interests at heart.
If you are married to your partner, it’s even more important to maintain a healthy relationship. A strong marriage gives children a sense of security.
Kids learn about relationships by observing their parents.
Show affection towards one another, be kind and respectful, and when you fight, do so in a way that shows you can have a disagreement without being uncivil.
How to Be a Better Parent: Be Quick to Forgive
Kids make mistakes. It’s a part of growing up. Don’t be so quick to punish.
Show them forgiveness and they will forgive you when you need it (and you will need it).
Also, if you’re holding on to hurt and anger caused by your parents, you’ll experience true freedom by forgiving them, getting counseling, and mending the relationship (if possible).
How to Be a Better Parent: Admit Mistakes
You’re not perfect. None of us are. We have to be vulnerable enough to admit our mistakes and show we aren’t perfect.
I’ve had to admit my mistakes, apologize, and ask my children for forgiveness on numerous occasions.
Doing this isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary.
Admitting your mistakes will help your children to understand that making mistakes is a natural part of life.
How to Be a Better Parent: You Don’t Know it All
I used to pretend that I knew it all. That charade didn’t last long
Kids aren’t easily fooled and can recognize a phony. They also have access to Google.
Instead of trying to be a know-it-all, learn to say, “I don’t know.” Those words are quite liberating.
Trying to pretend as if you know it all can be stressful. If you don’t know how to handle a situation with your children it’s okay. You will figure it out. And that experience will make you a better parent.
Always remember that it’s okay to ask for help or advice.
How to Be a Better Parent: Be Involved in Your Child’s Education
Whether your child attends public school, private school, or is homeschooled, it is important for parents to be involved.
Research has shown that parents who take an interest in their child’s education have a powerful positive impact on their achievement at school.
You can get involved by helping with homework, volunteering at school, creating lesson plans, attending parent/teacher conferences, or simply reading to them at night.
How to Be a Better Parent: Have Fun
Life as a parent should be enjoyed.
Dance. Laugh. Play games. Bake cookies. Sing silly songs. Travel to new destinations.
Make the most of your time with your children by having fun together.
Your kids will grow up quickly. Cherish each moment and have a little fun while you can.
How to Be a Better Parent: Final Thoughts
Being a better parent takes time and effort. But it will be the best investment you can make in yourself and in your children.