With today’s climate, there seems to be more focus on the concept that “more is better.” We seem to allow our kids to participate in “more” sports, “more” music, “more” friends, and “more” toys. Somewhere along the way, have we lost the focus of parenting and substituted indulging in its place?
I think the key to good parenting is to focus on your own behavior, respect your child, share time with your kids, and make your child a priority in your life.
Focus on your own parenting skills and behavior
Before trying to build a relationship with your child, take time to re-assess your own behavior. Do your children trigger emotional outbursts from you when they act out? What can you do to keep your own reactions in check and be the adult in the relationship? Consider ways that you can remain calm and still authoritative as you connect with your child. It begins with you. Consistency and honesty are two absolutes as you develop your parent-child relationship because you want the bedrock of the relationship built on your core values and principles.
Respect your child
As your child grows, help them to make their own choices. You may not always agree with these decisions, but let them learn and grow. Each child is different, so let them guide you with their unique personality. As the child grows, grow with the child. If you listen — really listen — your child is likely to talk. And he’ll talk about everyday stuff—not always the heavy things like rules, discipline and how to behave. Kids resent parents who get into the judgment habit all the time. Weren’t you a kid once, too? Model pride in what your child is trying to accomplish and respect his efforts. Such modeling behavior is something the child can learn and practice as well. You might find that the parent-child relationship deepens with respect at its core. It takes time, but it isn’t something you would want to rush anyway.
Share time with your child
Parenting is a life sentence, so enjoy the journey. Believe it or not, the childhood years fly by. If you’re spending a majority of your time preoccupied with work, you’ll miss out on experiences that can’t be replaced. Enjoy the childhood years by seeing the world afresh through their eyes. The wonder and amazement of the little seed in the Styrofoam cup; the roots go down and the plant goes up — always. It is great to carve out some one-on-one time with each child you have because you will be the wiser for it. Parent-child relationships deepen over time. Be patient, and see what you can learn from your child each day. Sharing time comes in all formats, from eating meals together, playing games, reading books, or making music together. And above all else, share your faith with your child.
Make your child a priority in your life
There never seems to be enough time! And there are so many things that take up your time every day. But it’s important to know why you are doing what you are doing—why the things you are attending to matter. Your children are a priority, but that does not give them free reign to dictate what and how you run your life. As a parent, you are responsible for feeding, clothing, educating and protecting your offspring. Let them know that they are a priority but that they are not in control of you. It’s a delicate balance but you, as a parent, still need to be in charge of your own emotions. Sometimes, children try to push your emotional buttons so that they can cause you to react in their favor. The real fact of the matter is that you set your priorities—your children do not.
A healthy parent-child relationship is nurtured and developed by you until your children have reached adulthood. Use the common sense you have. You know more than you think. Trust yourself—you’ll stress less.
About Dr. Ann Gatty
Ann Gatty, Ph.D.is a life coach, inforpreneur, author and organizational strategist. She has taught in classrooms and organizational training sessions and now works as a life coach for professional and personal development. Dr. Gatty has developed curriculum for college courses, organizational training and personal development. From her work and personal experiences, she finds a continuous need among women, of all walks of life, to find a life balance between professional goals and personal responsibilities. Ann Gatty hosts a website, www.stress-management-4-women.com, which offers stress management strategies, life skill development, and a means of finding your true passion in life. She has also authored Discovering God’s Recipe for a Healthy Body, Heart and Soul. Ann Gatty earned a Ph.D. in Instruction and Learning from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Education. She is married, the mother of two young adult boys, and shares her home with her husband, two Great Danes and a Bassett Hound.