Cathy has received three calls from the principal of her son’s school in the past week. Her son is constantly getting in trouble and she is becoming frustrated because she has no idea what to do about it.
Doreen’s two daughters are constantly fighting with one another. She can barely get anything done because one of them always seems to be running to her angry, hurt, or in tears.
DEFINITIONS & KEY THOUGHTS
Parenting is not an easy task. As a parent you are given the authority over your children and must assume control of how they are raised. One’s role as a parent is constantly changing. As children grow older and mature, one’s role becomes less active until eventually they serves as a friends and advisor to their adult children.
There are various key components that contribute to good parenting. Among the most important are:
- Love. Children need physical contact, hugs, words of encouragement and affirmation, and quality time- all of which communicate love. Love is able to break down walls and barriers that one cannot otherwise see. Although children- especially adolescents- may pull away at times, it is normal and is often due to the fact that they are simply learning how to act and think on their own. Parents are to love their children even when they are heartbroken by or disagree with their children’s actions, or feel that it is undeserved. A parent’s love for their child is always unconditional.
- Discipline. Discipline is unlike punishment in that it always intends for a better future for the child. When it comes to discipline, parents must always keep a balance, be consistent, firm, and follow through on their word.
- Guidance. As a parent, it is your responsibility to guide your children and to teach them about life. At times, this may mean allowing them to make their own mistakes. As a result, parents should be prepared to be disappointed with their children’s choices or behaviors from time to time. However, having such disappointment is better than making the mistake of helping children to get out of their difficulties too readily. By allowing children to make mistakes, parents are actually allowing a great amount of growth to take place.
When one is having problems with parenting, it is probable that a few changes may need to be made. While such changes may be difficult at first, they will not be impossible.
When parenting strong-willed or tough children, it is important for parents not to panic when they think about the future of their child. Some of the most difficult children become the more successful adults. So no matter what the case, parents should always envision the most positive futures for their children. They should also be sure to share those visions lovingly with their children and set aside plenty of time to share with them. Action steps that may be helpful for every parent to keep in mind are:
- Focus on relationship. The quality of the parent-child relationship will determine just how effective discipline strategies are.
- Focus on responsibilities and rules. As a parent, one’s role is to develop a plan as to what rules will be followed, how children will be disciplined if they fail to follow the rules, what is and is not negotiable, which chores children will be responsible for, and when the family will spend time together. It is important to incorporate the entire family’s input and ideas into the plan and to tweak the plan as needed. The plan should be designed to reward desired behaviors and should specify the consequences for undesired behaviors. Finally, it should be clear cut and understood by the entire family.
- Be consistent. Parents need to work together. Children must not think that they can pit parents against one another or get one parent to overrule the other.
- Spend time together. Spend as much quality time as a family as possible. If it is only one meal a day, then eat one meal a day together. It is of foremost importance for parents to maintain the strongest relationship possible with their children.