Monday, 13 February 2012

What is a 'good' parent?

I know this post is off-concept for my blog, but it's something that's been on my mind so I thought I'd share.

Last week I was fortunate to sit down and spend some time catching up with a friend who has twin girls who are exactly, and I mean born on the same day exactly, as Mason.  While they were playing we noticed a number of similarities in our parenting styles and had a brief discussion of what it means to be a good parent.

Then a couple days later I saw a video of a Dad who was reacting to a disrespectful post his daughter put on her Facebook wall.  At the end he took out a gun and shot her laptop.  I will say that it was the second time his daughter had done something like that, and I agree with consequences, but the way he dealt with it and the whole gun thing really didn't sit well with me.  The video has, of course, generated a ton of attention (feel free to read about it & view the video here)
The whole notion of how to be a good parent constantly rattles around my head.  I grew up with divorced parents who remarried and each had children in their second marriages.  I benefitted from this because I was able to experience different family dynamics and parenting styles and from these I've come up with some very specific ideas of what I do and do not want for my children mostly based on how I felt while I was growing up.

Interestingly, the most influential parenting model on how I've been raising my children came from a very good friend of mine and her husband.  They were much more child-centric in their philosophy and methods than either of my two families were and I loved how much they respected their daughter's needs even from infancy.  There was a deeply rooted desire to understand why she was doing what she was doing and they reacted based on the cause rather than the resulting behaviour.  This isn't to say that their daughter was allowed to behave any way she wanted or without rules or consequences, in fact it was the opposite because she had very specific and consistent parameters established by her parents, but at all times she was shown love and respect.

I think what struck me most about their parenting style is that they led by example and are building the foundation for a very self-aware, empathetic yet self-confident little girl who knows she is loved no matter what.  I suppose those are exactly the things I wish I'd felt when I was younger and I hope with every inch of my being that I'm able to give that to my children.

Then today as I was browsing through Pinterest I came across a post about 22 Life Lessons for my Daughter on Babble.  I don't think there's one of these that I disagree with:
  • You are more then ‘just’ your looks.
  • Positive self talk will get you further then negative.
  • Let go of ‘perfection’ and embrace the perfectly you.
  • Tell people you love them often, but always with heart.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Always listen to and trust your instinct.
  • Don’t settle for ‘good enough’.
  • Give people a second chance, but never a third.
  • Take care of your body so it will take care of you.
  • Always try your best — at everything you do.
  • Don’t wait for things to happen – make them happen.
  • Marry someone who you can have comfortable silence with.
  • Don’t stop yourself from feeling what you’re feeling – acknowledge — don’t suppress.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you there’s something you can’t do.
  • Say you’re sorry.
  • Don’t wish away your life — cherish even the small moments.
  • Learn and practice empathy.
  • Have friends of all different flavors — they will broaden your life perspective.
  • Time does not always heal and some days the pain will seap through – that’s ok.
  • Laugh hard and often.
  • Learn how to manage your money — it will save you in the long run.
  • Seek out a mentor in all areas of life — work, love, happiness.
This made me start to think about what I want for my children on a bigger scale and how I could do a better job of shaping what I do with them now to achieve that end.   I suppose you could call them my 'outcome goals'.  The reason why I think this is a good term is because once I have my list, I can evaluate what I do each day against the desired outcome(s) and if my actions don't support my goals then I need to re-evaluate my methods.  A little analytical, yes, but it's really hard to assess things without a framework and then make the appropriate changes. 

Off the top of my head, here's the start of my list.  I want my children to be and/or feel:
- Loving/Loved
- Respected/Respectful
- Worthy (not entitled)
- Hard working
- Empowered (not invincible)
- Accountable for their actions
- Empathetic (not push-overs)
- Generous
- Self-aware

It needs some tweaking, but it's a good start for now.

What strategies do you use to be the best parent you can be?

- Jacs

1 comment:

  1. No strategies yet, but I'm going to start listening and learning to others' so I can start developing some ;)