Today I feel like ticking a few people off, so I’m going to do the thing every parent hates: Be someone without kids telling you how to be the perfect parent. Sure I have no practical experience as a parent, but why should that stop me from handing out my brilliant ideas. On the plus side, blissful ignorance (and ten years of counselling) helps me see truths beyond any potential blind arrogance that having all easy or all terrible kids can bring. Regardless, this list will inspire whether out of agreement or hatred, which is sometimes a more powerful motivator.
- Relax, no matter how good or bad you are as a parent, your child will benefit from therapy when they’re older. Being a parent is hard, and perfection is impossible, so lighten up on yourself (or if it’s “easy”, take it more seriously)
- How well your kids turn out doesn’t always reflect how good you were at raising them
- Take care of yourself enough to be the best parent you can be. For instance, get therapy to help overcome the junk in your past before you pass it onto your kids
- What you do is more important than what you say. For instance, if you’re always anxious, you’re kids will become anxious; if you don’t read or learn, you’re kids won’t likely value it either
- Stress-oholics and Work-oholics enjoy life less, so don’t make your kids become either of these by your role modeling, demands, and/or pressure to perform
- Embrace failure so your kids can see you don’t have to be afraid of it
- We are all just human; no one’s more “special” than anyone else and no one changes the world by themselves; don’t make your kids feel this is something they need to do to be good enough. Help your kids embrace those around them as equals and not as inferiors or just competition to proving their worth
- If you try to make your children be the perfect kids they won’t be… and they’ll likely resent you
- Gifts and throwing money around to buy love is more likely to damage your relationship than build it
- A child who never suffers never grows up. Not being able to give your children everything you want to give is better for their development
- Your job is to make your kids feel that you’re proud of them, and not to make them proud of you
- What looks like a strength can be a weakness and vice versa depending how you look at it
- Being a parent is not a competition with other parents over who sacrifices more for their kids
- Acting like you have all the answers or the perfect family will only tick off everyone around you. Don’t try to show up other parents or they’ll hate you
- Be quicker to listen to your kids than to give advice
- Limit how much advice you listen to from other people or you’ll go crazy trying to make everyone happy
- Sometimes physical pain helps teach a lesson better whether letting the child fall or spanking them in a loving way (yes, I’m not afraid of spanking. As a child I remember preferring to be spanked than yelled at; physical pain made sense whereas I was too young to get the emotional hurt and what to do with it)
- If your child doesn’t get angry at you every once in awhile, you’re not doing your job. If they’re always angry at you, you’re doing something seriously wrong
- Push your kids to do things they don’t like when it’s good for them whether eating vegetables, exercising, doing chores, being nice to those they don’t like, learning to swim, learning a new language, or reading my brilliant blogs.
- Being a “friend” with your child should only happen when they’re grown up
- Success is finding joy, peace, and love (and really smart people know success means having faith); money and prestige can be a bonus, but cam reduce happiness.
- Let your kids experience religion even if it’s just to know better understand the world, art, culture, and history
- Your kids are allowed to feel sad, angry, hurt, confused, overwhelmed, etc. just like you are
- Support, don’t crush. Your kids aren’t going to be professional athletes or celebrities, so ease up, and let your kids discover what they like to do by giving them opportunities; ever child is different
- Everyone is good at something; no one is good at everything
I hope this list proves I still know a few things about parenting… can you tell I see a lot of perfectionist parents who put too much pressure on themselves, and their kids? May you find peace in knowing all parents suck on some level and at some point. There are times I suck at my job, and times when things just click. That’s just the way life works as it continues to push us to grow.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people