I have been around the game for awhile. Social Work can be very interesting work and also has a way of making a social worker constantly evaluate their own family and values. 20 years ago I was fresh out of college and had only one primary concern , me. Things have changed a little, and now I rarely get the time to consider me, because with 5 children you do not have much free time to do things for yourself. Its all abut the kids and trying to be the best parent I can be.
So what exactly is a ” good ” parent ” ? After many years reading about the topic, many years practicing being a parent and many years listening to the experts talk about it, I have had many discussions about what type of people are the very best at being a parent. There are always going to be generic lists out there in publications trying to define this, and always television shows about how to raise the greatest kids. As a matter of fact there are so many parenting classes, books and shows out that I wonder if any of them even agree with the others.
I am including a link to what I consider to be a decent and reasonable list of things that may help make up a good parent. It is worth looking at and really has some valuable ideas. I also want to address some things that you don’t see written too often, some things that may not seem as glamorous as the other ideas. These are things that I myself have used with my kids, and let me tell you- I don’t like to brag, but both of my son’s probation officers have nothing but good things to say about them, and my daughters , well lets just say that daddy is proud. The girls have never been suspended more then 1x per year and they both have pulled nothing less then a 2.0 in school . You understand why I may be a tad proud.
The truth is that I have actually sat in meetings with parents where those descriptions of sons and daughters were accurate, and they were great improvements! Every child performs at a different rate, with different tools and comes equipped with baggage, whether good or bad. It is impossible to try and rate a child’s success based on what the other kids are doing. Some kids have had very traumatic upbringings and some have had it easy. Some have unusually high IQ scores and some not so high; Some have high levels of confidence and some come in with abuse issues and cant think of anything positive to say about themselves.
The point here is that while the world likes to rate everyone using one system and one teaching style, we all know from the problems schools are having today that it does not work. I think the best system for kids is the one that fits their strengths the best. I know of children that are extremely intelligent, but do poorly on tests. There are children who can get good grades with little effort and those that must study all the time to pass. Does this mean that one is smarter then the other? No, it means that one can perform better under a certain set of conditions then the other. I know from my own experience that being smart is a relative term, and we as parents would do well to stay away from terms like that when describing our kids.
At any rate, as I mentioned earlier, the link at the end of this is a good list of things to look for in a parent and worth checking out when we evaluate our own parenting style. I also want to mention a few other things that I personally have used to teach my kids some very valuable lessons.
1- Be honest about your mistakes-
One of the hardest but most rewarding talks I had with my boys when they were in their early teens, was when I shared some of the mistakes I made along the way. Getting a DUI, drinking too much, divorce and a few other things that were hard to discuss with my kids. I had this talk, and to my surprise, my kids were very interested in what happened, why, and most importantly, what I did to correct the mistakes. Having the ability to say that I no longer had the problem or did not engage in that behavior anymore made it much easier to talk about my mistakes.
2- Model what you say is important-
Everybody knows the saying ” Do as I say, not as I do ” – never use that strategy with your kids. If you are going to preach to them about the importance of a certain behavior or lack thereof, then make sure you are living it. If you are not ,living what you are preaching, it will have no value to your kids.
3- Tell them the truth about the hard issues in life, and don’t try and shelter them from the real world. I remember my kids asking me about girls that had babies in their arms, that were maybe 14-15 years old. I chose to be honest with them, and honest about the consequences of having that responsibility at that age as well. Never sugar coat the issue and never judge others when you talk. We don’t know everyone’s story, so we should not be judging .
4- Discipline them if you love them- I get a chill when I see a parent trying to be their child’s buddy. You are the parent not the friend. Do them a favor and teach them what is right and wrong by giving them consequences for their behavior. Not crazy ones but consequences . Skip that part and you are in for a very long and trying time as you run around trying to carry a pillow under your child every time they mess up. Let them feel the pain now so they don’t have to live with it forever later.
Those are a few real life tips that have really helped me in my days as a parent. I have seen them work for many other parents as well, so try them out and do your best to stick to them!