There have been 2 different studies and a documentary in the last week focused on defining the perfect parent and asking parents and children for the strengths and weaknesses of their parents. At Kids On Track we navigate parents through a myriad of parenting situations and have seen that there is no one size fits all model of parenting! And still.... over 40 % of parents feel a pressure to be " perfect" and compare themselves to their peers. Here is our guide to the core ingredients of good parenting that can help all parents acheive the best they can for their circumstances:
1) LOVE - Their is no greater gift you can give your child than unconditional love - that doesn't mean you have to like them at 3am or during a tantrum or be their best friend and not set boundaries but it does mean that they need to feel that you accept them for who they are no matter what.
2) KEEP THEM SAFE - This doesn't end by babyproofing the house and nor does it mean you need to be a helcopter parent! Just stay in the loop with where your child is and with whom and what they are doing online - that is your job as a parent even if at times they resent you for it!
3) BE CONSISTENT - From setting ground rules to bedtimes to amount of screen time; children need and respect structure and will gain from it.
4) LEAD BY EXAMPLE - If you want your children to share, show them how. If you want them to grow to be respectful, kind, thoughtful, and giving even when pushed to their limits - let them see you try! You are the greatest teacher they will ever have.
5) OPEN AND HONEST COMMUNICATION - Be open and honest with your children even when life isn't going well. It will show them that you are a person as well as a parent and start to teach them by example that they can talk to you about what is happening in their lives.
6) BE FLEXIBLE - Understand that your children have their own personalities and ideas from when they are very little. What worked with one child may not with another - nurture the person they are - not the one you would like them to be!
7) INVOLVEMENT : Be interested and involved in your children's lives and encourage them to be in yours. Ask them about friends, teachers, what they played with at school. Know when their deadlines are for work. Share your life with them too - you are setting the tone for how they will relate to you forever.
8) ENCOURAGE THEIR INDEPENDENCE - There is a well known quote that there are 2 things we can give our children - one is roots and the other is wings. Start with little chores around the house; then asking them to help you with things; finally to being able to things without you - build and respect their independence and autonomy and their privacy that may come with it!
Congratulations to you all for doing the best you can at the hardest job in the world!