By Vicki Little
Most everyone agrees that parenting is a tough job, one that doesn’t come with a training manual or an overly excited co-worker to show us the ropes. And instead of getting a quarterly review that has the bad news sandwiched in between the good news, we suddenly get a child who throws temper tantrums and threatens to run away we are so mean (no worries, I hear that even great parents hear this sometimes, too) or we get the role-model child that every teacher loves to have in their class. So what is the secret of those great parents that we can’t help but envy? While there is no guarantee of how your “final product” will ultimately turn out, there are some common habits that great parents share.
1) Talk to their children: Great parents openly talk with their children and then LISTEN to what they have to say. They don’t allow “fine” or “okay” to be the answer to the question of “how was your day”, and they listen to their children without judgment, anger, or criticism. They are truly on their child’s side!
2) Are good role models for their children: Great parents realize the value of setting an example. They don’t simply tell their kids what to do or how to behave, they model the behavior themselves. Kids are impressionable, and what they see their hero doing is something they will do as well.
3) Focus on what not who: Great parents recognize that behavior does not define someone, and when a child is misbehaving it is the behavior that needs to change, not the person. These parents simply change a few words. Instead of “you are bad”, parents with great habits will say “your behavior is unacceptable.” Rather than “I’m angry at you”, they say “I am angry with your behavior”. And most certainly, instead of “you disappoint me”, they say “I am disappointed with your choices.” They focus on what the child is doing, not who he or she is as a person.
4) Take care of themselves, and their relationships: Great parents realize that in order to be at their best they need to feel their best and this means taking a bit of time for themselves. They say “no” once in awhile, especially when their calendar is already booked…and they don’t feel guilty about it. They also realize that their relationship with their spouse doesn’t need to be at a hiatus for eighteen years because they have children. They nurture their relationships and show their children what a loving and healthy relationship looks like.
5) Learn from their children: While we have so much to offer and teach our children, they have a lot to teach us as well. Their unbiased hearts and minds help us to rediscover the person we are when we like ourselves the most. How they treat their friends and family can teach us to let go of old grudges and hold on to what we have, and how determined they are to learn something new can encourage us to believe in ourselves as well. Further, children teach us how to be better parents when we make a mistake in parenting. Great parents try to be better people for their children, and they learn from their kids on how to be their best.
What is your best parenting habit?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. When she isn’t writing or trying to keep up with her kids she can be found volunteering, reading, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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