Parenting. Is there a right or wrong way to do it? Billions throughout the world are parents, but every parent has different mindsets on how to do their job.  There are many social and psychological reports explaining the impact of family demographics, with cultural and economic influence.  There are also plenty of written guidelines, which aim to set the rules to produce the model child.

Realistically, there will be dramas, and yes, children will answer back, so how do parents stay grounded and consistent when faced with challenges?

Get Your Parenting Philosophy Straight

Ask yourself this question: what makes an ideal parent?  Even though parenting is accomplished in many different ways, the answer is roughly the same:

  • Unconditional love
  • A positive role model
  • Advisor
  • Teaching children to be independent

In today’s society, a majority of parents forget these fundamentals and veer off this well-laid path by complicating the way they parent, with devices like:

  • Expectation.
  • Reduced supervision in the home environment.
  • Helicopter parents, who hover over the child and rescue them from negative situations.
  • Drill sergeant parents, who shout instructions and control.

Most parents come from a place of love, but their personality traits and insecurities often dictate how they influence their child’s behavior.

So how does one ensure a positive relationship with their child, while not letting personal peculiarities get in the way?

1. Let the Child Fail

As frightening as this statement sounds, through failure, the child will learn. Guide and advise but do not control.  Children need to be able to make their own decisions, which is a skill imperative to their future.  This will help the relationship and fortify independence.

An example of this is homework, where helping answer the questions or constantly reminding them to complete the task, results in not suffering a consequence.  This alone can have a negative influence on the relationship, with both parties feeling resentful and complacent.

2. Quality Time

Switch off the phones, TV, computers, and sit down to talk.  Dinner time is perfect but not always possible because of activities and jobs.

Carve out at least fifteen minutes a day to have a heart to heart conversation.  It doesn’t have to be about the meaning of life, but it could be as simple as asking how the day went, or plans for the weekend.

All of these conversations open up lines of communication.  Children need reassurance that parents are always there to talk to, no matter how hectic life can get.

3. Have Rules and Set Boundaries

Starting from infancy, the parents set the rules like:  “don’t touch that, it’s too hot,” “don’t hit your brother,” “don’t draw on the walls,” and “don’t put that dress on the dog.”  The list is endless, but actions following broken rules have the greatest validity on the parent-child relationship.

What set of consequences are in place and are they adhered to?  If there is a threat of action due to a broken rule, correction must follow.  If not, children feel they can break the rules again, leading to insecurities, due to lack of boundaries.

Numerous studies have proven that humans need structure and rules to flourish and feel secure, which in turn will make interaction with children concrete.  Success in rulemaking follows these simple steps:

  • Set simple rules everyone understands.
  • Be consistent and don’t back down.
  • Don’t feel guilty; these rules are in place to ensure children’s safety
  • Teach respect and in turn empathy.

Modern day society has us clambering to the top of a competitive pile of egocentricity.  “Shoot your neighbor, get out of my way, I’m first.”  To raise children as non-narcissistic little monsters, efforts should focus on education and character.

A Harvard study of 10,000 middle and high school students, found that 4 out of 5 perceived that parents valued achievement more than caring for others.

Instead, parents should lead by example, so show compassionate actions or comments for others, and make care a priority.  This action will lead to fulfillment and children will learn that self is not all-important.  Positivity with a caring attitude will replace the anger, depression, and expectation that can shadow the “must win everything” mentality.

With communication, empathy, logic, rules, and consistency, parents have the tools to raise their kids.  The road may be full of potholes, but with a strong foundation, a good relationship will form and have longevity.  To read more about parent-child relationships, please check out

RESOURCES

https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/parenting-resources-raising-caring-ethical-children/cultivating-empathy

http://iahip.org/inside-out/issue-24-spring-1996/winnicott-and-parentinghttps://www.loveandlogic.com/about/bios/foster-cline

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